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Buchu won the 2023 Jessamine Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. The Philip Bauer trainee drew away strongly from her rivals in the stretch, proving much the best in the race.
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Rigney Racing’s homebred Buchu rocketed past longtime leader Bella Haze at the eighth pole and drew off to post a 3 3/4-length victory in the Jessamine Presented by Keeneland November.
With the victory, Buchu earned a fees-paid berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Buchu completed the mile and a sixteenth over a turf course rated as good in 1:42.48 to give trainer Phil Bauer his first Keeneland stakes victory.
Bella Haze led the field of 11 through fractions of :22.84, :47.37 and 1:12.12 as Buchu raced at the rear of the field. Last going into the far turn, Garcia angled Buchu to the outside and was eight wide entering the stretch.
Buchu quickly made up ground, putting away Bella Haze at the eighth pole and drawing off for the victory.
A Keeneland sales graduate, Buchu is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Justify out of the Galileo (IRE) mare Flowering Peach (IRE). The victory was worth $200,725 and increased Buchu’s earnings to $294,955 with a record of 5-2-0-2.
Buchu returned $13.30, $7.06 and $5.46. Pharoah’s Wine, ridden by Martin Chuan, returned $11.58 and $9.04 and finished a nose in front of Crown Imperial, who paid $5.22 to show under Ricardo Santana Jr.
It was another neck back to Bella Haze, who was followed in order by Moonlight Gambler, Smooth Waves, Appellate, Abeyance, Time to Dazzle, favored Toupie and Asternia.
Phil Bauer (winning trainer of Buchu)
On jockey Martin Garcia’s relationship with Buchu:
“I think sometimes horses for courses, so maybe riders for horses. He really gets a lot of credit for developing this filly. He got her from three-eighths all the way forward and he decided to keep his tack in Kentucky, so when we went to New York, (jockey) Tyler (Gaffalione) jumped aboard. Mother Nature got in our way with the first start and then a troubled trip in the second one up there with Tyler. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he was out of town when she ran back and we knew (jockey) Martin (Garcia) loved her, so he hopped back aboard for her last breeze before her maiden win (at Churchill Downs Sept. 23), and we were confident going into that, as we were a few others, but in racing you need some luck to go with you.
“I’m just overwhelmed and really happy for (owner Richard) Mr. Rigney, now with one that he bred. Cue the Mamas and the Papas, we’re ‘California Dreamin’ .”
Martin Garcia (winning rider)
On breaking from outside:
“The last time (maiden win at Churchill) she was a little fresh and she was inside. Today I had a really good position. I knew it was going to be big speed so I just let her break and relax. In the first turn I just took it easy and took her back and she relaxed on the backside. At the five-sixteenths (pole) I just took her out and then I asked her to go, and all I could see was just going by horses. I’m like, ‘I’m going to win!’ She’s a phenomenal filly. We won again. Thanks to the trainer (Phil Bauer) and the owner (Rigney Racing) for the opportunity. She’s a superstar.”
Martin Chuan (rider of runner-up Pharoah’s Wine)
“She ran very good. It’s the filly’s first time running against a big field with more experience, but she did it very well. She responded how we wanted and I think it was an acceptable race.”
Ricardo Santana Jr. (rider of third-place finisher Crown Imperial)
“Good trip – she was going from short to long. She lasted really well.”
Flavien Prat (rider of beaten favorite Toupie, who finished 10th)
“She broke really awkward and from there was really keen. She settled down around the first turn and on the backside but then after that she was done.”
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