Into Michief’s daughter Occult and Dylan Davis team to win the Busanda
Alpha Delta Stables’ Occult made her stakes debut a winning one in Saturday’s $100,000 Busanda, a nine-furlong test for sophomore fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Chad Brown and piloted by Dylan Davis, the Into Mischief dark bay secured the maximum allotment in the qualifying event for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks that offered 20-8-6-4-2 points to the top-five finishers.
Occult broke alertly from post 2 and tracked from second position as longshot Sweetest Princess led the field through fractions of :23.88 and :48.77 over the good main track with Affirmative Lady and Gambling Girl – the second- and third-place finishers in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct on December 3 – settled in third and fourth, respectively.
The Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Gambling Girl advanced up the rail to the inside of Affirmative Lady down the backstretch as Sweetest Princess continued to lead the way over Occult through three-quarters in 1:14.22. Davis gave Occult her cue late in the final turn and the filly obliged with a smart turn-of-foot to take command in upper stretch, drawing off comfortably down the lane to win by 3 3/4-lengths in a final time of 1:54.78.
Gambling Girl completed the exacta by 3 1/4-lengths over Affirmative Lady with Sweetest Princess and Aniston, who was off a step slow and eased to the wire, rounding out the order of finish.
Brown said the initial plan was for Occult to dictate terms, but credited Davis for taking hold when Sweetest Princess demanded the lead.
“I thought Dylan used great judgement to just secure that second stalking spot out in the clear,” Brown said. “From there, it seemed like she was always traveling well and she had the jump on the other two main competition in the race right behind her. I think that was really the key that she was able to – once we got by the pacemaker – run strong and steady and get there and win by a decent margin. I was really pleased with the filly’s effort and Dylan’s heads-up ride.”
Davis said Occult was traveling comfortably throughout and only needed a couple of reminders turning for home.
“She must’ve seen something into the turn, she started lugging in,” said Davis, the leading rider on the NYRA circuit in 2022. “I just pulled the left hand out and gave her a couple of flags and she went on her way again. She just needed some help and encouragement to get back to task and focus.”
Occult finished an even fourth in her September debut sprinting six furlongs at Belmont at the Big A, but entered from an impressive second-out graduation traveling a one-turn mile on December 18 here.
“After her first start, where she was a bit green and needed the race, she’s put two really nice races together,” said Brown, who won the 2021 Busanda with The Grass Is Blue. “When you have horses developing like this, all you can ask is that they do what you train them to do, and she’s certainly done that.”
Brown said the $625,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase by Steve Young, agent, could target the Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle at nine furlongs on April 8 which offers 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-five finishers. The next stop at the Big A on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks is the one-mile $250,000 Busher Invitational [50-20-15-10-5] on March 4.
“I’ll see how she comes out of this and go from there. She’s a work in progress and I know it wasn’t a fast time racing like that, but to her credit, she’s got two wins in three starts and it was her first start around two turns and she handled it fine,” Brown said. “The water’s going to get a lot deeper and she’s going to have to get faster, but I’m really proud of her. I don’t know that I would cut her back [in the Busher].”
Carmouche said the graded stakes placed New York-bred Gambling Girl, winner of the state-bred Joseph A. Gimma here in September, performed admirably.
“I got the inside trip. I think she still might be a little green and may need blinkers, but she ran awesome,” Carmouche said. “If she had some blinkers on her, she could have leveled off and taken me the last quarter and we could’ve seen a different result.”
Occult, a half sibling to multiple stakes winner Exulting and stakes winner Magical, is out of the graded stakes-winning Empire Maker mare Magical Feeling, who captured the 2012 Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park.
Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds from the Empire Maker mare Magical Feeling, Occult banked $55,000 in victory while improving her record to 3-2-0-0. She returned $4.80 for a $2 win wager.