2016 Busher Stakes Preview

The modern standard of sophomore filly campaigns is usually cited as Rachel Alexandra or Ruffian.  Predating and perhaps eclipsing both of them was Busher, who is honored with  a stakes in her name at the Big A.  Busher turned in a three-year-old campaign for the ages with a win against her own gender in the Santa Susana (now Santa Anita Oaks), against males in the San Vicente, against elder females in the Vanity, and against open company of elder males in the Arlington Handicap.  She would be named  champion three-year-old filly and Horse of the Year for her sterling exploits.  A champion filly at two, her sophomore campaign (that also included wins in the Hollywood Derby, Washington Park Handicap, and Santa Margarita Handicap) in 1945 is even more impressive given the war-time suspension of racing in the early part of the year.  Busher went on to produce Jet Pilot – a Kentucky Derby winner – in the breeding shed following her racing days.

The Busher Stakes offers a $125,000 purse and 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Oaks point values to the top four finishers.  First run in 1978, it’s been around two turns all its life (save for two non-runnings in the 1980s) and functions as one of Aqueduct’s winter three-year-old filly preps.  it has seen only one filly take the Kentucky Oaks that spring – Princess of Sylmar (2013).  Two years prior, another blowout went on to future G1 success in It’s Tricky (2011).  The Busher Stakes isn’t the only three-year-old race of note this weekend: teammate Nicolle Neulist has a look at the G2 Fountain of Youth and G2 Davona Dale from Gulfstream.

Princess of Sylmar, now no secret at odds-on, posts another open-length score in the 2013 Busher Stakes.  Video courtesy Youtube.

Morning line odds for this race, scheduled for Saturday February 27th, were not available at original publish time.

Aqueduct  — Race 8 — Busher Stakes — One and one-sixteenth miles on Inner Dirt — post time 4:50 pm ET

For a seven horse field, this race came up with a projected contested pace.  Perhaps that pace as well as a rider switch are the ticket for DREAMS TO REALITY, whose Busanda stakes feeatured a wide trip and a middling fourth place finish.  Switching back to an inside post should do the trick here, as well as a switch to Kendrick Carmouche – a top five local rider – for a pilot, should help here.  The Michael Dilger trainee goes second off the shelf after graduating last December in a maiden claimer going a single-turn mile and had the wide trip in the Busanda.  They also went fairly slow in the Busanda as LOST RAVEN carved out  a :49 half that day.  The pace projects more lively with LOST RAVEN back in the box as well as stretchout WHISTLING STRAITS.  Such a contested pace should help ARCH OR NOTHING, whose Busanda was even worse as the rider fell.  ARCH OR NOTHING got her diploma two back over the inner oval and like DREAMS TO REALITY makes the second start of the layoff.  Like DREAMS TO REALITY, her year started in the Busanda.  Behind a tough-to-separate pair, this space slots the Busanda winner third.  FLORA DORA moves to the outside post this go-round.  While she showed she can press off a more modest piece, she’ll have to work out a trip from an outermost post seven.  The slight added distance (from a mile and seventy to a mile and a sixteenth) may help this cause, but she isn’t going to clear to the front with WHISTLING STRAITS in this field on the stretchout.  Things won’t be the same this go-round, but she’s earned respect.

Selections:

#3 DREAMS TO REALITY

#4 ARCH OR NOTHING

#7 FLORA DORA

Longshot: #1 LOST RAVEN is one of two from Todd Pletcher’s shedrow of sophomores, and she was the one who cut out the pace last time in the Busanda.  Manny Franco has the return call on this filly that won a sprint stakes at second asking last fall at Laurel and two back got on the podium in a three-year-old stakes at Laurel.  Maybe Laurel is better to her, but she doesn’t need to the lead despite being part of the pace.  If the Aqueduct Inner Dirt suddenly carries inside speed she has more than a puncher’s chance.  Regardless, she projects as the pace – but her gameness and her not needing the lead will keep around longer than the usual one-way speed.

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