2023 Busanda Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. GAMBLING GIRL (3-1) – The first of two from Pletcher, who’s won this a handful of times; exits a third-place finish in the Demoiselle (G2) to stablemate Julia Shining and returning rival Affirmative Lady; the latter is still a maiden, so it wasn’t a vintage renewal of the race; indeed, she herself was exiting a drubbing against New York-bred stakes company, though clearly she ran below par that day; has a little bit to find against Affirmative Lady and also must fend off other rivals with a bit more upside; mixed signals.

2. OCCULT (7-5) – Didn’t show much in her debut, but was on her game following a three-month break and won comfortably going a mile; her 85 Brisnet speed rating for that is competitive with those earned by the Demoiselle alumni; distance perhaps a slight concern, especially given the short price likely to be on offer; though there are plenty of stamina influences in her pedigree, Into Mischiefs are generally spot-on at a mile, while her dam was a G2-winning 7f specialist; nonetheless, a logical threat despite her relative inexperience.

3. AFFIRMATIVE LADY (9-5) – Although still a maiden, she fits nicely here off a narrow loss in the Demoiselle in her two-turn debut; it was a very tough beat indeed, as heavy favorite Julia Shining took forever to uncork her bid and only finally did so in the final strides; there isn’t much apparent pace in this one, so it could turn, to her detriment, into a tactical affair, but from a class perspective she stands out as one of the leading prospects.

4. SWEETEST PRINCESS (12-1) – After falling short three times on the grass, this daughter of Cairo Prince finally came through with a 2 1/4-length maiden tally on the dirt going a mile in mid-November; although encouraging she sticks to this surface, that graduation came at the expense of fellow New York-breds, and this open field will be considerably more challenging; others preferred on top.

5. ANISTON (5-1) – A Curlin half-sister to G3-winning sprinter Souper Sensational, she made a more impactful appearance second out over this distance and won decisively; however, the pace was extremely slow and her final time (1:58+) was quite pedestrian, even for this track and that class level; given her pedigree and connections, she remains with a high ceiling, but will have to quicken.