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The Racing Dudes team reacts to Venti Valentine winning Saturday’s Busher Stakes at Aqueduct, then discuss who they like moving forward, including any potential longshots. Venti Valentine made her mark on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail. Join our replay watch-along and let us know your thoughts about the race in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
NY Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Venti Valentine rallied to a decisive victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Busher Invitational, a one-turn mile for sophomore fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Jorge Abreu and patiently piloted by Manny Franco, the New York-bred daughter of Firing Line secured maximum points in the Busher Invitational, which offered 50-20-10-5 qualifying points to the top-four finishers for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks slated for May 6 at Churchill Downs.
The victory provided the owners with their second Busher score following a win in the 2019 edition in partnership with Mapeth Stables with the Abreu-trained Espresso Shot, a half-sibling to Venti Valentine, by Mission Impazible, out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Glory Gold.
“I think this is a better horse than Espresso Shot,” Abreu said. “Not for nothing, but she just shows more determination than Espresso Shot. Espresso Shot looked like she loved Aqueduct and her distance was limited. I think this filly – the farther she goes, the better she’ll be.”
The Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Magic Circle, last out winner of the nine-furlong Busanda, led the compact field of five through splits of 24.23 seconds and 48.19 over the fast main track while being stalked by 1-2 mutuel favorite Radio Days under Dylan Davis.
Venti Valentine, traveling in fourth position early, advanced outside rivals approaching the turn as Magic Circle clung to a precarious lead. Radio Days faded late in the turn as Venti Valentine powered into contention, taking command at the stretch call and drawing off to a seven-length win in a final time 1:39.65.
Shotgun Hottie rallied late to complete the exacta by three-quarters of a length over Magic Circle. Radio Days and Sterling Silver rounded out the order of finish. Morning Matcha, who is cross-entered in Tuesday’s Main Line at Parx, was scratched.
Abreu said he was expecting a big effort from his filly despite seeing her miss two works leading up to the race.
“I knew this filly was going to run a good race. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know she was going to win that easy,” Abreu said. “She ran a really good race. She’s been a classy horse since Day One. She’s been showing that she has a lot of determination and a lot of talent. She showed it today.”
Dan Zanatta, co-founder of NY Final Furlong Racing Stable, praised the perfect trip from Franco.
“All day, I thought the track was playing to her favor. It wasn’t too fast and I thought the race was really shaping up for her on paper. It all came together,” Zanatta said. “I think we wanted to be a little more forwardly placed and get outside earlier, but he [Manny Franco] got her in the perfect spot. She fired and Jorge did a great job getting her ready off the layoff so everything came together perfectly.”
Franco said he felt comfortable throughout.
“I knew the pace wasn’t going to be that fast. So I wanted to come out running,” Franco said. “I saw Dylan went with Kendrick and I was able to go around them, and after that I was comfortable where I was.
“I was in the middle in the stretch so I was worried about somebody coming from the outside, but I didn’t see anyone,” Franco added. “She’s a nice filly. She’s improving every time she runs.”
Venti Valentine made her first two starts at Belmont Park, notching a nose win on debut in September in a state-bred maiden special weight sprint, followed by a 3 3/4-length romp in the one-turn mile Maid of the Mist over a sloppy and sealed main track. She completed her juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort to Nest in the Grade 2 Demoiselle on December 4 at the Big A.
Abreu said Venti Valentine is likely to make her next start in the nine-furlong Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle on April 9 at Aqueduct which offers 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
Bred in the Empire State by Final Furlong Racing Stable and Maspeth Stable, Venti Valentine banked $137,500 in victory while improving her record to 4-3-1-0. She returned $12.60 for a $2 win bet.
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