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Aqueduct Preview & FREE Picks | Busanda Stakes 2024 [Kentucky Oaks]
Shimmering Allure (Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse Sportswire)

Aqueduct Preview & FREE Picks | Busanda Stakes 2024 [Kentucky Oaks]

Dr. Miranda previews the 2024 Busanda Stakes from Aqueduct, then gives her top picks from this Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race.

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The press release:

Walking L Thoroughbreds’ Shimmering Allure will look to secure her second career stakes score in Saturday’s $100,000 Busanda, a nine-furlong test for sophomore fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Busanda is the first Kentucky Oaks prep race of the year in New York, and offers the top-five finishers 20-10-6-4-2 qualifying points, respectively, towards the prestigious Grade 1 test on the first Friday in May at Churchill Downs.

The Busanda is slated as Race 6 on Saturday’s nine-race program. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern. 

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Trained by Kenny McPeek, Shimmering Allure arrives from a runner-up effort to Life Talk in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Demoiselle on December 2 here at Aqueduct. The Enticed dark bay stalked the pace in fifth through the first turn and down the backstretch as Life Talk set the tempo through each point of call.

Shimmering Allure was asked for her best by Junior Alvarado in the final turn and passed rivals steadily with a three-wide bid, but could not reel in Life Talk down the stretch and finished 3 3/4 lengths back. Shimmering Allure was awarded a career-best 79 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

“The winner looks like she went down south [for the winter] but we stayed put here,” McPeek said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a big chance to win again.”

Shimmering Allure’s Demoiselle effort came on the heels of a strong three-length triumph in the one-mile Tempted in November at Aqueduct, where she swept from 7 1/2 lengths off the pace to take command near the sixteenth marker and drew clear in deep stretch to post the decisive score over Vino Rouge in a final time of 1:37.84.

In addition to the Tempted, Shimmering Allure’s other victory came in a fourth-out graduation going one-mile in a restricted maiden in September at Churchill Downs.

McPeek said he expects Shimmering Allure to appreciate another start at nine furlongs as she looks for her first win beyond one mile.

“No problem,” McPeek said of the distance. “She seems to be able to handle it and she’s a filly that’s very professional and uncomplicated. We’re proud of what she’s done so far.”

Shimmering Allure brings the most seasoned record to the Busanda field, boasting a 5-for-7 in-the-money rate and $239,095 in total purse earnings. Her lone other outing beyond one mile came with a fourth-place effort in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Alcibiades in October at Keeneland where she was headed out of show honors by Alys Beach.

Manny Franco has the call from post 2.

Calumet Farm’s Kentucky homebred Gin Gin [post 1, Trevor McCarthy] looks to rebound from an even fifth-place effort last out in the Grade 2 Golden Rod in November at Churchill Downs.

Trained by two-time Eclipse Award-winner Brad Cox, the Hightail bay was bumped at the start, tracked in fifth throughout the 1 1/16-mile test and failed to fire when roused by Florent Geroux in the turn.

Gin Gin earned black type for the first time two starts back when finishing a distant second in the 1 1/16-mile Rags to Riches over sloppy and sealed going at Churchill. There, she broke a step slow and raced in third through the first three points of call, making steady progress to land place honors 6 3/4 lengths back of West Sunset. It was her first start beyond sprint distances after graduating at second asking in a seven-furlong maiden tilt in September at Churchill in wire-to-wire fashion.

Gin Gin had her first work in the Empire State in mid-December and most recently covered a half-mile in 49.88 seconds Saturday over the Belmont Park training track. That work came six days after covering the same distance in 47.81.

Dustin Dugas, Cox’s Belmont-based assistant, said Gin Gin has trained well since moving north from Churchill.

“She’s doing good. She breezed on Saturday – a nice, basic breeze. She had a really quick breeze two weeks ago, so we went simple this week,” said Dugas. “She does things so easy. She’s a nice, good-looking filly – a big girl.”

Gin Gin is out of the graded stakes-placed Hard Spun mare Before You Know It, whose half-sister Instant Reflex produced Hard to Justify, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November.

Joe DeMarinis’ Princess Mayfair [post 5, Dylan Davis] makes her stakes debut for trainer Steven Chircop following a game runner-up effort against males in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming tilt on December 16 at Woodbine Racetrack.

The West Coast dark bay stretched out considerably from her pacesetting second-out graduation at 5 1/2 furlongs just two weeks prior, but appeared to relish the added ground as she led the field of six through splits of 24.89, 50.82, and 1:15.26 over the Tapeta.

She maintained a two-length advantage at the stretch call and battled on gamely down the lane, but was passed late and defeated 1 3/4 lengths by Jayhawk, who had entered from a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Grey at the Toronto oval.

Chircop said the talented filly would benefit from a more tactical approach as she faces her farthest test yet.

“To be a good horse and get her full potential, she’ll have to learn to rate a little bit,” Chircop said. “Not to say she can’t get the mile and an eighth because I think she will, but I just wish there was a little more time for that.”

A $50,000 purchase at the OBS Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, Princess Mayfair is out of the winning Speightstown mare Toast of Mayfair, who is a half-sister to 2017 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes-winner Tapwrit and multiple graded stakes-winner Ride a Comet.

Godolphin’s Kentucky homebred Most of All [post 3, Jose Lezcano] seeks to make amends from a distant fourth-place finish in the Demoiselle where she finished 13 lengths behind Life Talk.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the daughter of Quality Road pressed the pace early a half-length back of Life Talk, but faded approaching the far turn and came up empty down the lane.

Most of All was an impressive winner of an off-the-turf maiden two starts back at Aqueduct with a 10 1/4-length romp in prominent fashion over sloppy and sealed going. She began her career with a pair of off-the-board efforts when sprinting six furlongs on debut and trying turf at second asking in a 1 1/16-mile maiden route at Saratoga Race Course.

Most of All is out of the graded stakes-winning Bernardini mare Indulgent, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winner Frosted.

Completing the field is Repole Stable’s Class Act [post 4, Kendrick Carmouche], who faces her first test against winners after a third-out graduation on December 7 at Aqueduct for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

The daughter of Street Sense finished off-the-board in her first two starts at Churchill Downs with deep-closing tactics when traveling seven furlongs and 1 1/16-miles, respectively, but flourished when sent to the front going nine-furlongs last out.

The $270,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase boasts a strong female family with her second dam being Classy Mirage, a multiple graded stakes-winner who produced Grade 1-winner Dublin.