New York-bred Espresso Shot rallied from near the back of the pack to earn a three-quarter length score in Saturday's $250,000 Busher Invitational to close out a lucrative Gotham Day card at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Jorge Abreu for owners NY Final Furlong Racing Stable, Maspeth Stables and Parkland Thoroughbreds, the 3-year-old daughter of Mission Impazible arrived at the Busher, which offers 50-20-10-5 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks, fresh off a victory in the restricted East View Stakes at the Big A.
“It's so exciting to go from winning a [restricted] stakes with a New York-bred to come into open company and basically ensure a spot in the Kentucky Oaks,” said Daniel Zanatta, managing partner of NY Final Furlong Racing Stable. “It's pretty special. We only buy New York-bred fillies. My dream is not to win the Kentucky Derby, my dream is to win the Kentucky Oaks with a New York-bred filly, and we're on our way, so it's very exciting.”
Excess Capacity, at odds of 32-1, set a contested pace in the one-turn mile for sophomore fillies, marking a quarter-mile in 23.51 seconds and the half-mile in 46.58 seconds under pressure from Orra Moor and Filly Joel.
Filly Joel surged to the lead into the turn with the previously undefeated Please Flatter Me and Orra Moor in hot pursuit. Espresso Shot, picking off runners one-by-one under Eric Cancel, was third at the top of the lane and closed outside of rivals to take command.
Please Flatter Me, game on the inside, drifted out into her rivals as Oxy Lady, who captured the Grade 3 Tempted here on November 2, was full of run but in need of racing room.
Espresso Shot fought bravely to the wire, just holding off the late surge of Oxy Lady for the narrow win in a final time of 1:37.69 over a main track labelled fast. Orra Moor, a head back of Oxy Lady, completed the trifecta a head in front of Please Flatter Me.
Filly Joel, Enliven, Dovey Lovey, Excess Capacity and Ujjayi completed the order of finish.
“To be honest, I had a wonderful trip. I had it all planned out in my mind. I mean, it worked very well,” said Cancel. “The filly broke there with them. I was just trying to get her to a comfortable position, where we were both happy. I did have the trip, once I started getting closer to the three-eighths, I just swung her out a little bit, and just let her cruise around. Once I got to the quarter pole, it was 'let's go.'”
Following the race, the stewards launched an inquiry into the stretch run of Please Flatter Me while Jack Sisterson, trainer of runner-up Oxy Lady, claimed foul against the winner. Both inquiries were dismissed.
Oxy Lady was vanned off the course, according to drf.com, but suffered only superficial cuts.
Javier Castellano, pilot of Oxy Lady, was pleased with the effort despite the difficult trip.
“She put in a good effort,” said Castellano. “I maybe could have won the race, but the 10-horse [Please Flatter Me] was hit left-handed [by jockey Alex Cintron] and came over and bumped some of the other horses in between. I got the worse of it in that case. But it's nothing you can control.
“She has a lot of talent,” he added. “That's the way she's supposed to run; off the pace. I liked the way she finished today.”
Espresso Shot, bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm, banked $144,375 in victory. She paid $10.20 to win.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at the Big A with a nine-race card featuring the $150,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational. First post is 1:30 p.m.
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