Affirmative Lady (right) missed by a neck to Julia Shining in the Demoiselle (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)
After nearly upsetting odds-on favorite Julia Shining in the Dec. 3 Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct, Affirmative Lady returns to the same track and 1 1/8-mile trip in Saturday’s $100,000 Busanda S. The Graham Motion trainee will renew rivalry with Demoiselle third Gambling Girl while taking on a trio of maiden winners venturing onto the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
The Busanda marks a turning point in the Oaks prep season, as the points scale increases to 20-8-6-4-2 for the top five finishers. With just five entered in the Busanda, all can garner Oaks points by completing the course.
Affirmative Lady has yet to break her maiden, but the daughter of late champion Arrogate made her first two starts in sprints at Keeneland. A closing third in her debut, she rallied for fourth in another maiden on the Breeders’ Cup
“Future Stars Friday” undercard. Affirmative Lady appeared to want longer distances, so she tried the Demoiselle and came within a neck of winning. A similar effort in the Busanda would likely give her that maiden-breaking win. Hot jockey Manny Franco picks up the mount.
Gambling Girl, a close third in the Demoiselle, was likewise making her two-turn debut that day. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Repole Stable runner is the most experienced entrant with six starts under her belt. Her first five outings came in New York-bred company, including a 10-length Saratoga maiden romp and a victory in the Sept. 23 Joseph A. Gimma S. at Aqueduct
Pletcher also sends out one of the recent maiden graduates, Aniston. The $550,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase showed little in her Sept. 18 unveiling here, but she took a gigantic step forward on the stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 25. Although Aniston is a full sister to Grade 3-winning sprinter Souper Sensational, the chestnut apparently takes a lot more after their sire, Hall of Famer Curlin.
The Chad Brown-trained Occult steps up in both class and distance after rolling in a one-turn mile maiden here Dec. 18. By leading sire Into Mischief and out of the Grade 2-winning Empire Maker mare Magical Feeling, Occult sold for $625,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September.
Sweetest Princess raced three times on turf before promptly scoring on the dirt Nov. 18. All of those efforts came in New York-bred maidens, so she tackles open company for the first time for trainer George Weaver.
The Busanda is carded as the eighth race at Aqueduct Saturday, and you can watch and wager at TwinSpires.com