Midnight Disguise, a massive, long-striding filly reportedly measuring 17.2 hands, arrived on the scene late to capture Saturday’s $200,000 Busher at Aqueduct, likely cementing a slot in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on the first Friday in May.
Ridden by Trevor McCarthy, William Wilmot and Joan Taylor’s homebred captured the one-mile test by 1 3/4 lengths over a fast track in a time of 1:39.15. Trained by Linda Rice, Midnight Disguise returned $7.90 as the third choice.
“I was able to sit just about last with her and follow a little cover for a little while down the backside,” McCarthy said. “She’s one that likes to be on the outside. She’s a big filly [with a] huge stride, so there’s no sense in to keeping her bottled up inside. You just kind of get her out and get her momentum rolling, and it just seems like she’s improving every race. I think the more ground, the better for her, so I was happy she got the mile today, but I definitely think she’ll improve with distance.”
Sara Street was second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of My Miss Lilly. Shamrock Rose was fourth, followed by 2-1 favorite War Heroine and Gypsy Janie.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, Midnight Disguise earned 50 Oaks qualifying points for the victory, increasing her total to 60. Sara Street earned 20, My Miss Lilly 10, and Shamrock Rose five.
Midnight Disguise has now won four of five starts, all at Aqueduct, including two of three stakes appearances. Kicking off her career with back-to-back wins in a $50,000 maiden claimer for state-breds and an open starter allowance, she next finished second in the $100,000 East View for New York-breds on January 14.
Stepping up to 1 1/8 miles for the $100,000 Busanda on January 25, Midnight Disguise earned her first 10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points with a 4 1/4-length romp. This victory increases her career earnings to $257,600.
“She really kicks into gear late,” Rice said. “She’s a big filly and she’s obviously learned a lot, and we’ve made a lot of progress with her in the last three months and I was delighted. This was a much tougher race then she’d run in thus far. We were aware of that obviously, but she seems to step through every hurdle we give her. I’m very excited.
“We’re pointing towards the Gazelle ([G2] on April 11] and that would be the natural stepping stone to the Oaks. I’ve never run in the Oaks, and the possibility is very exciting.”
By champion sprinter Midnight Lute, Midnight Disguise is a half-sister to the stakes-winning Holiday Disguise. Both were reared by Thin Disguise, a Yes It’s True half-sister to Grade 3 winner Naughty New Yorker and Grade 2-placed stakes vixen Pupil.