Repole Stable’s homebred Always Shopping benefited from the stretch-out to two turns to break her maiden in Sunday’s $101,000 Busanda S., a Kentucky Oaks (G1) scoring race at Aqueduct. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Manny Franco, the slight 2-1 favorite swept past pacesetter Filly Joel to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths.
Always Shopping was turning the tables on Filly Joel, who raced 6 1/4 lengths clear when they last met in an October 25 maiden around Belmont Park’s one-turn mile. Filly Joel went on to compete in the Demoiselle (G2) at this track and 1 1/8-mile trip, finishing third, while Always Shopping tried a mile maiden at Aqueduct and couldn’t quite catch Miss Marilyn after an awkward start. The step up in trip helped reverse the form on both counts.
The daughter of Awesome Again and Grade 1-placed stakes winner Stopshoppingmaria also broke in good order from the rail and enjoyed a ground-saving trip. Filly Joel, the 2-1 second choice, had to hustle from post 8 to secure the early lead through an opening quarter in :23.91, and Miss Marilyn was hung out widest of all into the first turn.
Always Shopping was reserved 2 1/2 lengths behind Filly Joel through splits of :48.52 and 1:13.34, tipped out to launch her challenge turning into the stretch, and had too much momentum. The winner stopped the teletimer in 1:52.24 to earn her first victory and 10 points toward the Kentucky Oaks.
Filly Joel improved off her Demoiselle performance to finish a game second, adding 4 Oaks points to bring up her total to 6. Afleet Destiny, the runner-up in the Demoiselle, once again did her best work late but could get no closer than third, another 5 1/2 lengths behind Filly Joel. With 2 more points in the bank, Afleet Destiny also has 6 points. Miss Marilyn faded to fourth following her wide trip and took home 1 point.
Discreet Sister outfinished Lady Banba for fifth. Getting Warmer, who stalked Filly Joel early, drifted out down the lane and wound up seventh. The tailed-off Floss Dancer was followed by Destiny Over Fate. Elegant Zip and No Mo Lady were scratched.
Kentucky-bred Always Shopping has bankrolled $87,000 from her 4-1-2-0 line. The bay debuted July 29 in a six-furlong dash at Saratoga, where she worked her way into fifth. She took step a forward in her next two when placing to Filly Joel and Miss Marilyn, and continued her progress here.
Her dam, Stopshoppingmaria, was likewise a Repole runner trained by Pletcher. Second in the 2011 Frizette (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2), the More Than Ready mare scored her stakes win in the 2013 Ladies Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park.
Stopshoppingmaria is now a 100 percent stakes producer. Her first foal, Mo Shopping (by Uncle Mo), captured last year’s Light Hearted S. and placed third in the Delaware Oaks (G3). Always Shopping is her second offspring.
This is the family of Grade 1 winners Zipessa and Flashy Bull; Gronkowski, the 2018 Belmont S. (G1) runner-up; and further back, Canadian champion and sire Perfect Soul.
Quotes from NYRA
Assistant trainer Byron Hughes on Always Shopping: “We were cautiously optimistic about this spot. We were always looking to stretch her out and get her to race at two turns. She hadn’t broke her maiden yet, but she had run well in her last start. Manny did a great job saving ground and tilted her out down the stretch. She’s the grinding type and kind of grinded out the win. At this point, we’ll see how she comes out of this race and go from there.”
Winning rider Manny Franco: “The distance helped her a lot. Last time (when runner-up to Miss Marilyn on December 14 at Aqueduct) she went a mile and the speed held up. I liked the distance today for her. The trip worked out great. I just wanted to make sure she came out of there well and get my position before the turn, and that’s what she did. After that, she did it nice.”
Jockey Jose Lezcano on runner-up Filly Joel: “I had a pretty good trip. The first turn kind of hurt me a little bit. I had to use her a bit to get down towards the rail from my post. It might have hurt us in the end, but she gave a good effort and it was a good race. She tried hard the entire way.”