A Northern Ireland horse owner was today celebrating collecting more than £100,000 after his rank outsider Magical Fantasy became the longest shot ever to win the high-profile Del Mar Oaks in the United States.
Despite being the biggest outsider in the field for the California race, Magical Fantasy caused a major upset after she found an opening in the final stretch under jockey Alex Solis and bolted through it for a two-length victory.
The $350,000 (£187,000) Del Mar Oaks was Strabane owner Patrick Gallagher’s first Grade 1 victory in the States.
Magical romped home at more than 40-1 which was a major shock to racing fans as she had been overlooked in the betting due to lacklustre performances in her past two starts.
But Solis, aboard for all three of the Kentucky-bred filly’s US starts since being imported from England, said he believed she could win.
“Actually, this filly has been training out of this world,” he told reporters after the victory that leaves Mr Gallagher $210,000 (£112,000) better off.
“I've been aboard just about every time she has worked and I told Paddy I thought she was going to run a huge race.
“Today she settled really good, she had a good pace to run at and I had a great trip. I got lucky down the stretch to find some room to run and got it done.”
It was the first Grade I stakes victory for Mr Gallagher, who was an assistant to John Sullivan and Bill Shoemaker before taking over the stable when riding legend Shoemaker retired from training in 1998.
Mr Gallagher, too, said that the way Magical Fantasy performed in training gave him encouragement to enter the race. “I think you have to take a shot when they're doing as well as she was,” he said.
“Today they went a little quick the first part and that gave her a chance to relax. She had a nice kick today, which she showed in her first race. She showed that again today, so that was very encouraging.”
For the first time, Magical Fantasy wore earmuffs to block the noise and help her focus.