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Breeders' Cup 2017

Princess of Sylmar Pulls Clear in Busher

Princess of Sylmar made in four in a row as she pulled clear to a seven-length victory in the $100,000 Busher while undefeated Cluster of Stars earned her first stakes win with a hard-fought decision over favored Nicole H in the $100,000 Correction Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack.


Princess of Sylmar, whose average wining margin is better than 9 ½ lengths, ran third through the early going as stablemate Kimono took the field of five 3-year-old fillies through a pokey opening quarter-mile in 25.81 seconds and a half in 51.12. Moved into contention on the backside by jockey Javier Castellano, the Majestic Warrior filly barreled three-wide around into the turn to take over at the head of the stretch, drawing clear under a hand ride and crossing under the wire in 1:45.52 for 1 1/16 miles.


“She’s very amazing,” said Castellano. “She has a long, beautiful stride, but at the same time, when you ask her, she’s got a quick reaction. I moved kind of early because I felt the pace was too slow, and she finished unbelievable. I didn’t force her to go by the horse – I just asked her a little bit and she took off. I think she’ll run all day.”


Sent off as the 1-4 favorite, Princess of Sylmar returned $2.50 for a $2 win bet and earned $60,000. Bred in Pennsylvania, she broke her maiden at Penn National by 19 lengths at second asking, and then won an optional claimer at the Big A in December before her 7 ½-length victory in the Busanda on January 5.


Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy said the next target for Princess of Sylmar would be the Grade 2, $250,000 Gazelle at 1 1/8 miles on April 6.


“We think there is a lot more ahead of her, so our plan – Todd and I talked about it – was ‘Let’s just take our time and let her move along and let her learn how to run and be happy,” said winning owner Ed Stanco. “And one day, she’ll be at a big race.”


Kelli Got Frosty was second, followed by Let Me Entertain U, Kimono, and Marcellina d’Oro.


One race earlier, the lightly campaigned Cluster of Stars zipped to the front and led through a quarter-mile in 23.08 and a half in 46.17 before being confronted on the turn by Nicole H, who was undefeated in five previous starts – all stakes – over the Big A’s inner track. The two matched strides as they swept into the stretch, with the favorite sticking her nose in front inside the eighth pole, but Cluster of Stars fought back along the rail to prevail by a head for her third victory in as many races.


“She fought all the way,” said winning jockey Castellano. “She didn’t want to get beat today, that’s for sure. She’s very competitive.”


Cluster of Stars, who broke her maiden last February and returned after an 11-month absence to post a 6 ¼-length optional claiming victory in January, ran six furlongs in 1:09.66.


“It was impressive,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. “Nicole H is an awesome filly, and our filly is very unseasoned; this is her third career start. We’ve thought she was special all along.”


The 8-5 second choice, Cluster of Stars returned $5.40 for a $2 win bet. The 4-year-old New York-bred daughter of Greeley’s Galaxy, who carries the colors of Turtle Bird Stable, nearly doubled her bankroll to $121,200 with the winner’s purse of $60,000.


The 6-year-old Nicole H, who was seeking a repeat win in the Correction, was eight lengths clear of Singlet, with Crespano completing the order of finish. North Freeway and Ode to Sami were scratched.




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