by Karen M. Johnson
Mushka’s future looks bright after she came from last to first to win Aqueduct’s $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) by 4 1/2 lengths on Nov. 24.
Mushka, ridden by John Velazquez, raced in last down the backstretch of the 2-year-old filly race. She was 10 1/2 lengths behind pacesetter Be Fruitful during the first quarter-mile of the 1 1/8-mile race.
Heading into the final turn, Mushka was picking up horses quickly. As the seven-horse field turned for home, Mushka came with a four-wide rush. As she cleared the eighth-pole, Mushka enjoyed a 1 ½-length advantage.
Elusive Lady, the 5-2 favorite, finished second. Melissa Jo checked in third, 3 ¼ lengths behind the runner-up.
Mushka returned $10.40 to win. She completed the distance in 1:51.61 on a fast track.
“Once she gets serious, she gets serious,” Velazquez said. “We got to the lead a little early, so I wanted to keep her mind on running. I hit her once and she got back on her left lead, then she went on again and galloped out good. That was very impressive, but the first part, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Once she got to the backstretch, she said, ‘OK, now I’m ready.’ ”
Bill Mott, who trains Mushka, a daughter of Empire Maker , for Zayat Stables, said he wasn’t too concerned when the filly was at the back of the pack. He said he was happy she didn’t get caught in the early fray of horses and riders jockeying for position into the first turn.
“Well, you always have to wonder until they get going,” Mott said. “She produced a good run on her own, (Velazquez) said. Leaving the half-mile pole, she just took off. She won her second start on a (good) track that she didn’t necessarily have to like. In her first start, she faced a group of good horses. The winner (Backstreet Rhythm) became grade I- placed and the second horse (Country Star) won the (grade I) Alcibiades.”
Mott said the filly, purchased at auction as yearling for $1.6-million, will winter with him in Florida.
“She will be nominated for everything; that’s usually what you do,” Mott said. “We’ll see if we can get her to the (grade I) Kentucky Oaks."