Drs. William B. Wilmot and Joan M. Taylor’s homebred Midnight Disguise was the 5-2 second choice in Thursday’s $100,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct, but ran like a favorite when drawing off in the stretch to score by 4 1/4 lengths.
The Busanda is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and awarded 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers toward a starting berth in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Oldfashioned Style attempted to claim the majority of those points in wire-to-wire fashion in the Busanda, setting the pace while tracked by Take Charge Tina on the outside and Hail along the rail a bit farther back. Neither of the latter two could threaten the experienced Oldfashioned Style, who was making her sixth start in this spot for trainer Gary Contessa.
Meanwhile, jockey Trevor McCarthy allowed Midnight Disguise to make her own way running wide in the back of the pack. The bulky Midnight Lute filly began picking off rivals on the backstretch, swung four wide on the turn, and easily reeled in a leg-weary Oldfashioned Style to earn her first stakes victory.
Midnight Disguise paid $7.30 for the win and completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:55.81 over the fast main track. The race was hand-timed due to a timer malfunction, and there were no internal fractions.
Oldfashioned Style, the 6-1 fourth pick in the six-filly field, proved best of the rest, 3 3/4 lengths up on Hail at the wire. It was another 4 3/4 lengths back to Wealth Effect, who had a head to spare on Incleveland. Take Charge Tina faded to last, another 45 lengths behind.
Midnight Disguise went unbeaten as a juvenile last year in two starts at Aqueduct. She broke her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths while going a mile on December 15 and returned just six days later to take a six-furlong allowance by two lengths. The Linda Rice-trained miss wheeled back in three weeks to make her stakes bow in the one-mile East View Stakes on January 14, also at Aqueduct, and suffered her first defeat when second.
The dark bay filly got back on the winning track in this spot and now boasts a 4-3-1-0, $137,600 career record.
The New York-bred Midnight Disguise is out of the Yes It’s True mare Thin Disguise and counts as a half-sister last year’s Bouwerie Stakes winner Holiday Disguise, who is 4-3-0-0 in her career. Thin Disguise is herself a half-sibling to Grade 3-scoring millionaire Naughty New Yorker and Grade 2-placed stakes heroine Pupil.
Trevor McCarthy, jockey Midnight Disguise, winner
“Our plan was to break and sit back. She is a big filly. She has a very big stride, so I didn’t want to get into too much trouble, kind of let her sit outside and let her make her move (and) let her tell me when she wanted to get going.
“It seemed like at the three-eighths pole I had so much horse, she wanted to hang there a little bit. She is still a little immature, but definitely a nice filly. (She) has a bright future in front of her.”
Linda Rice, trainer Midnight Disguise, winner
“She’s just continued to improve and gain fitness and seasoning. The last time, she ran a little bit green on the outside and in the stretch switching leads. But we were delighted today with how she ran the mile and an eighth and two turns. It really opens up a lot of doors. We looked at the Ruthless (for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on January 28) and looked at this race and we felt there was a lot more to gain in this race.
“The distance, whether it’s two turns or one turn, will be key. We’re just trying to find what makes the most sense and gives her the most opportunity and let her learn and improve and not try and set the bar too high for her.”