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Sunday, January 11, 2009


PUMPKIN SHELL TURNS CINDERELLA IN BUSANDA


By Francis LaBelle Jr.

December Hill Farm’s Pumpkin Shell didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry on Saturday afternoon, having spent the majority of her time in the featured 36th running of the $72,020 Busanda at the back of the field.

But when the time came for her to act, the Lion Heart filly took jockey C.C. Lopez through a hole in the middle of the lane and went on to a hand-ridden one-length victory Saturday afternoon in the featured race for three-year-old fillies.


Making her sixth start and turning back from her maiden victory at a mile and a sixteenth on December 4 to a mile and 70 yards, Pumpkin Shell was dismissed at 12-1 by the majority of the 2,804 fans in attendance. Those who believed in the chestnut filly were rewarded with a $2 win payoff of $26.80.

Although a dusting of snow threatened each race on the day – with adjusted post times, the nine-race card, which began at 12:30 p.m., was completed before 4 p.m. -- Aqueduct’s inner track was fast and Miss Dartmouth battled to get the lead and the first quarter of a mile in 23.74 in the Busanda. After a half of 47.82, Southern Charmer moved to the lead and unbeaten Fitz Just Right made a wide move on the turn.

Lopez, meanwhile, remained patient aboard Pumpkin Shell and kept her inside. As the field approached the quarter-pole, he gradually eased her out. Chocolate Pop made an outside run, and it was then that Lopez sent Pumpkin Shell through a hole between her and Southern Charmer and went on to the victory in 1:42.30.

“I liked [Pumpkin Shell], I’ve always liked her,” Lopez said. “We got off just okay, but when I called on her and that hole opened up she just went right through it.”

Trainer David Donk had tried Pumpkin Shell short and on turf, but may have a change of heart now that she has won back-to-back races on Aqueduct’s inner dirt track.

“It’s scary,” he said. “I didn’t know if she was better on turf or dirt, but I could be convinced after today. It’s nice to see her validate the last win. We knew we wanted to run her two turns. I’m not going to overdo it, I’m going to space her out. I know the next one isn’t until February 22nd.”

The “next one” will be the $65,000-added Busher for three-year-old fillies at a mile and a sixteenth.

Don’t Forget Gil, who raced along the rail, held for third, followed by Fitz Just Right, Missunitednations, Our Khrysty, Southern Charmer, favored Flashing and Miss Dartmouth.

“She didn’t really run her race,” jockey Ramon Dominguez said of Flashing, whose finish helped account for a Pick 6 Carryover into Sunday’s card of $239,658. “She got a little excited in the gate and she was a little tough to settle. For whatever the reason, she didn’t run her race. It was a tough race. I had to check her a few times. I tried to find her a spot and never found one. She’s a good filly, so I guess it is back to the drawing board.”


BUSANDA QUOTES

Winning trainer David Donk of Pumpkin Shell (No. 2): “It’s scary – I didn’t know if she was better on turf or dirt, but I could be convinced after today. It’s nice to see her validate the last win. We knew we wanted to run her two turns. I’m not going to overdo it, I’m going to space her out. I know the next one ($65,000-added Busher, 3yo fillies, mile and a sixteenth, Aqueduct) isn’t until February 22nd.”

Winning jockey C.C. Lopez: “I liked [Pumpkin Shell], I’ve always liked her. We got off just okay, but when I called on her and that hole opened up, she just went right through it.”.”

Ramon Dominguez, jockey of beaten favorite Flashing (No. 6): “She didn’t really run her race. She got a little excited in the gate and she was a little tough to settle. For whatever the reason, she didn’t run her race. It was a tough race. I had to check her a few times. I tried to find her a spot and never found one. She’s a good filly, so I guess it is back to the drawing board.”


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