SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Fresh off of defeating fellow New York-breds in a mile-long stakes race here at the end of December, Espresso Shot gave the Kentucky Oaks trail a jolt when she sprung to the front late to win Saturday’s Busher Stakes at Aqueduct.
Breaking from post 2 under Eric Cancel at 4/1 odds, Espresso Shot took back, then raced off the rail in midpack alongside Oxy Lady, while a four-wide wall consisting of Excess Capacity, Please Flatter Me, Filly Joel, and the 8/5 favorite Orra Moor posted opening fractions of :23.51, :46.58, and 1:11.44. Running widest of all at the top of the stretch, Espresso Shot began grinding her way to the front. Please Flatter Me, running in the middle of the still-four-wide wall, came out and bumped Orra Moor, who in turn came out and forced Oxy Lady to pull up sharply. As her foes fought to regain their composure, Espresso Shot took control and inched ahead in the shadow of the wire. The Jorge Abreu trainee crossed with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:37.69 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.
“To be honest, I had a wonderful trip,” Cancel said. “I had it all planned out in my mind. I mean, it worked very well. The filly broke there with them. I was just trying to get her to a comfortable position where we were both happy. Once I started getting closer to the 3/8 (pole), I just swung her out a little bit and just let her cruise around. Once I got to the 1/4 pole, it was, ‘Let’s go.'”
Despite having to check hard to avoid running up on Orra Moor, Oxy Lady managed to re-rally and take second by a head over that foe, with Please Flatter Me fading late to finish another head behind in fourth. Shortly after crossing, Oxy Lady was pulled up lame on her left front and vanned off, but Daily Racing Form’s David Grening reported that a post-race inspection found that she had just suffered superficial cuts, likely from Orra Moor.
Filly Joel faded to fifth ahead of Enliven, with Dovey Lovey, Excess Capacity, and Ujjayi completing the order of finish. It Justhitthe Wire, Shelley Ann, and Always Shopping were scratched.
The Busher is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Espresso Shot earned 50 points for the win, with Oxy Lady receiving 20 for second, Orra Moor 10 for third, and Please Flatter Me 5 for fourth.
Espresso Shot’s win was her third in as many starts going at least 1 mile on dirt and improved her overall record to 6-3-1-1. The 3-year-old daughter of Mission Impazible increased her earnings to $262,975 for co-owners NY Final Furlong Racing Stable, Maspeth Stables, and Parkland Thoroughbreds.
“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.”
Espresso Shot returned $10.20 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.10 to show. Oxy Lady brought back $5.20 to place and $3.10 to show, while Orra Moor paid $2.80 to show.