By Casey Laughter
The $125,000 Busher Stakes takes place on February 27, 2016 at Aqueduct in New York. The race is the eighth on a nine-race card and will be contested at 1 1/16 miles over the Aqueduct inner dirt track.
The field contains evenly-matched three-year-old fillies hoping to collect some Kentucky Oaks points. The race is worth 50-20-10-5 to the first four horses that finish the race.
Let’s look over the field:
Lost Raven is one of two Uncle Mo fillies in the race. She ran last out in the Busanda, finishing third behind two stubborn fillies in Flora Dora and Scatoosh. The chart shows that she weakened late while Flora Dora and Scatoosh kept going, battling it out. This filly only has one work since her Busanda, but it was a good four furlongs in 47 3/5 seconds. The work was the third best of 101 works at the distance that day.
This filly is fast, but her best Beyer speed figure is a 73 in the Smart Halo Stakes. Her pedigree suggests she will be best at sprint distances, as her dam is a daughter of the freakishly fast Elusive Quality.
Katniss the Victor is the only New York-bred in the field of seven. She is sired by 2007 champion sprinter Midnight Lute and is making just her third lifetime start in the Busher Stakes.
The three-year-old filly comes in off a nose loss in the Maddie May Stakes to Frosty Margarita. She doesn’t seem like she should have a problem with 8 ½ furlongs, as she is out a Closing Argument mare. Closing Argument was second in the 2005 Kentucky Derby to Giacomo, defeating Afleet Alex, who finished third. This filly has had two slow workouts since her last out. She went four furlongs on Feb. 12, doing so in :52 4/5, and five furlongs in 1:04 1/5. She should be competitive here.
Dreams to Reality is coming in here off a fourth-place finish in the Busanda Stakes, where she was 11 ¼ lengths back, earning a slow Beyer of 51. This filly is a daughter of Lookin at Lucky, the 2010 Preakness winner. Pedigree suggests she should handle 1 1/16 miles, as her damsire is Salt Lake. Dreams of Reality is hoping to improve, but her speed figures are very slow, he best being only a 66.
Arch or Nothing broke her maiden in a $60,000 maiden special weight two starts back going one mile and 70 yards at Aqueduct. She made it to the gate in the Busanda Stakes, but stumbled leaving the gate, throwing jockey Ruben Silvera. Drawing a line through that race, she looks likely to improve and this race could be a coming out party for this talented filly. The daughter of Archarcharach is out of a Miner’s Mark, a son of Personal Ensign. Distance should not be a problem; she looks like a contender here.
Mo d’Amour is the second Uncle Mo filly in the race and she looks more attractive than Lost Raven. Mo d’Amour is coming in off an easy win in a $50,000 allowance optional claiming event for non-winners of a race other than a maiden. She ran just off the leaders and pounced, running like she wanted more distance. She only has one official recorded work coming into the race, but she fired a bullet on February 20, going 4f in :47 3/5, the fastest of 101 works for the day at that distance. Pedigree suggests there should be no problem going 8 ½ furlongs. She is out a Scat Daddy mare. She looks good here.
Whistling Straits is coming into this race off a clear win in a $40,000 maiden special weight where she led the entire way and just kept going at an even mile over the Aqueduct dirt course. Before that, she had an off-the-board finish and a second-place showing. She hasn’t worked that great, but the 17-point Beyer improvement from her penultimate race to her last race suggests that this filly has a lot more to offer. She has the second-highest speed figure in the entire field. The only filly to post a better figure is Flora Dora. Whistling Straits is a daughter of Scat Daddy and a Meadowlake mare named Christina Lake.
Flora Dora comes in off a good win in the Busanda Stakes. She was awarded a Beyer speed figure of 70, which is her second-best figure. She earned a 75 for her second-place finish in the Grade III Tempted Stakes, finishing a mere half-length behind Big World. Flora Dora is part of the first crop for First Dude, a Florida stallion. She is out of a Dixieland Band mare, named Aidan. Her work since the Busanda win was impressive. She went five furlongs in 1:03 2/5, the second best of 14 works for the distance on February 19. She looks like the clear favorite in this race.
The Busher Stakes looks pretty evenly matched, but the top horses coming into the race appear to be Flora Dora, Mo d’Amour, and Arch or Nothing. Whistling Straits looks like a horse on the improve as well. As previously noted, this race is worth Kentucky Oaks points. The only fillies in the field with Oaks points to their credit are Lost Raven (third in the Busanda; 2 points), Flora Dora (first in the Busanda; 11 points), and Dreams of Reality (fourth in the Busanda; 1 point).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Casey Laughter has been following horse racing since 2003, when Funny Cide stole her heart and took Louisville by storm. After that, Casey had succumbed to the horse racing bug — and has been unable to shake it after all these years.
Casey has visited tracks in Ohio, Kentucky and New York, covering events from a weekend at Keeneland to the defeat of a Triple Crown winner. As a student, Casey is hoping to break into the racing world with her photos and her writing. She has a personal blog named A World Full of Furlongs and a photography portfolio on Flickr named Casey Laughter Photography. She also writes for another horse racing website named Lady and the Track.