Danny Chen’s Yorkiepoo Princess flashed speed in her sprint stakes romps, but successfully changed tactics in her first two-turn attempt in Saturday’s $150,000 Busher S. at Aqueduct. Rallying from off the pace for Irad Ortiz Jr., the 9-5 favorite passed Full House en route to a 1 3/4-length decision.
Yorkiepoo Princess thus captured the year’s first U.S. race worth 50 Kentucky Oaks (G1) points to the winner. Trainer Ed Barker had been preparing her for the step up in trip.
“We actually changed the training on her,” Barker said. “I’ve been breezing her from the finish line seven-eighths of a mile, three-quarters of a mile so that we could take the speed away from her going into the first turn and that’s exactly what happened.”
Ortiz explained how the training translated into the winning ride.
“I wanted to break out of there and I could see myself sitting first, second, not too far off [the lead],” her jockey said. “But he [Barker] told me, ‘I’ve been working her, don’t worry if she gets behind horses because I’ve been working her like that.’
“So I was able to put my hands down, relax, save ground, everything worked out good with her. She makes the lead and she waits on horses all the time, that’s just her. She handled it perfect. She did everything right.”
Barker thought that Ortiz did everything right too.
“I thought it was a great trip,” the trainer said. “He rode her perfect. She ran the race basically like we trained her: to rate a little bit and try to come off of the pace, and she was able to do it.”
With Yorkiepoo Princess biding her time, the front-running job fell to Tiz Rae Anna, who showed the way through the fog and posted fractions of :23.75, :48.14, and 1:13.42. By that point, the stalking Full House was serving it up to the leader, and Yorkiepoo Princess was creeping into contention. No sooner had Full House put Tiz Rae Anna away than Yorkiepoo Princess swung out and pounced. Despite drifting out in the stretch, the favorite nevertheless forged ahead.
Full House banked 20 Oaks points for finishing a clear second. Third-placer Tiz Rae Anna earned 10 points, and No Sweat (5 points for fourth) increased her account to 7 points.
Yorkiepoo Princess’ mile split of 1:40.41, and 1 1/16-mile final time of 1:47.69, cast some doubt on just how far she wants to go. By the speedy Kantharos and out of the Unreal Zeal mare Kickapoo Princess, whose stakes win came in a six-furlong sales graduate event at Hawthorne, she’s bred to be quick.
Yorkiepoo Princess has lived up to that pedigree by running away with the January 14 Ruthless and the November 24 Furlough, both at six furlongs. Although her maiden score came at a mile, it was an off-the-turf race around one turn at Belmont. Her overall resume reads 7-4-0-0, $244,811.
Chen purchased her for a scant $8,000 at the OBS April two-year-olds in training sale. But the Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck-bred must have been more appealing as a yearling, initially selling for $65,000 at OBS August to Stonestreet Stables (which raced her sire, Kantharos).
Ortiz warns that you can’t judge Yorkiepoo Princess by her appearance.
“She still impresses me every time she runs,” Ortiz said. “She’s just an OK-looking filly, but when she runs, she can run.”