Blinkered Bema Romps in Busher Stakes

Bema raced on or near the lead to the stretch, then drew away under Javier Castellano for a 3 1/4-length victory Saturday in the $80,875 Busher Stakes at Aqueduct. Sideways finished second in a field of five 3-year-old fillies, five lengths ahead of Cobblestone Road.

The win was the first in three starts this year for Bema, a daughter of Pulpit from the Icecapade mare Dhaka, and her third in eight career starts. Bema carried highweight of 122 pounds over 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.99 on a fast track to earn $48,525 for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

"The blinkers put her up into the race. She ran true the whole way around," said Earl "Buzz" Tenney, assistant to trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey. "She blew out in :34 2/5 with blinkers on, so I thought she would be close up today. She was able to relax nicely, and I'm glad we had a horse to track (Cobblestone Road)."

Castellano agreed that the blinkers helped.

"After the last race, Buzz thought that she might need blinkers because she was looking around in the stretch," the jockey said. "They really focused her well today."

Dancing Blues finished fourth, 18 lengths ahead of Levenche. For Gold's Sake and probable favorite Totaly Wild were scratched, the latter due to a respiratory infection.

"When I got to the barn this morning, the groom told me that she was coughing a little bit," said owner/trainer Anthony Dutrow. "The veterinarian came at 7:30, scoped her and found an upper airway infection."

Bema returned $3.80, $2.80, and $2.10. Sideways paid $5.90 and $2.70. Cobblestone Road was $2.60 to show.

"I think there is a lot of room for improvement still," added Tenney. "She ran a good race on the grass at Churchill, so we have that as an option, too. We'll probably give her a little more time until her next race, which might be the Fantasy (gr. II)." (Chart, Equibase)