May 27, 2024

Buchu runs rampant in BC WAYI Jessamine

Buchu went last to first in the Jessamine (Photo by Coady Photography/Keeneland)

Rigney Racing’s homebred Buchu blew past the field in Friday’s $350,000 Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland, giving sire Justify yet another premier contender in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

Progeny of the 2018 Triple Crown champion have now swept the final three “Win and You’re In” events in this division, with Aidan O’Brien’s Opera Singer blasting the competition in Sunday’s Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) and Chad Brown’s Hard to Justify punching her ticket in Wednesday’s Miss Grillo (G2). Buchu completed the treble in a scintillating stakes debut.

“She’s a phenomenal filly,” jockey Martin Garcia said. “Thanks to the trainer (Phil Bauer) and the owner for the opportunity. She’s a superstar.”

Dispatched as a 5.65-1 chance off a Sept. 23 maiden romp at Churchill Downs, Buchu worked out a different trip here, thanks to her wide draw and the race dynamics. Last time, Garcia engineered a stalk-and-pounce passage from an inside post. In the Jessamine, she broke from post 10, and with an honest pace forecast, Garcia dropped back to the rear.

Bella Haze zipped forward through an opening quarter in :22.84 on the good turf course, and proceeded to carve out splits of :47.37 and 1:12.12. Tracking her was the 51-1 longest shot on the board, Asternia, along with Time to Dazzle and 3.25-1 favorite Toupie. But the stalkers ended up retreating as Bella Haze maintained her lead into the stretch.

Then Buchu, who was last of 11 passing six furlongs, burst onto the scene. With a shake of the reins and minimal encouragement, she uncorked a terrific closing kick to overwhelm them all down the lane. Surging 3 3/4 lengths clear, Buchu covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.48.

A blanket finish ensued for the minor awards. Runner-up Pharoah’s Wine nipped Crown Imperial, who was a neck up on fourth Bella Haze. Moonlight Gambler was the same margin away in fifth. Next came Smooth Waves, Appellate, Abeyance, Time to Dazzle, a lit-up Toupie, and Asternia.

“She (Toupie) broke really awkward and from there was really keen,” jockey Flavien Prat said of the beaten favorite. “She settled down around the first turn and on the backside, but then after that she was done.”

Garcia praised Buchu’s show-stopping performance.

“In the first turn, I just took it easy and took her back and she relaxed on the backside. At the five-sixteenths (pole) I just took her out, and then I asked her to go, and all I could see was just going by horses,” her winning rider said. “I’m like, ‘I’m going to win!’”

Buchu was offered as a yearling at Keeneland September, but retained after RNA’ing for $275,000. She’s now bankrolled $294,955 from her 5-2-0-2 line. Third in her first two starts on Saratoga’s main track, Buchu was a hampered sixth when getting a turf opportunity at the Spa. She had clear sailing at Churchill, and duly opened her account by a resounding 4 3/4 lengths.

The dark bay is bred on the emerging cross of Justify over Galileo, a pattern responsible for this summer’s undefeated Superlative (G2) star City of Troy, among others. Buchu is the first foal from the Galileo mare Flowering Peach, who is herself a full sister to current Prix Hocquart (G3) victor First Minister. They were in turn produced by multiple Grade 3 queen Naples Bay, a Giant’s Causeway half-sister to $5.7 million-earner and outstanding sire Medaglia d’Oro.