02/21/2015 4:43PM

Condo Commando easily wins Busher

Susie Raisher/NYRA photo
Kentucky Oaks prospect Condo Commando, with Junior Alvarado aboard, overcomes a stumble just after the start to win the Busher Stakes.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It was the right place to start.

Condo Commando, not fully cranked for her 3-year-old debut, overcame a bit of an awkward start to dominate her five rivals and record a 4 3/4-length front-running victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Busher Stakes at snowy Aqueduct.

It was the fourth win in five career starts for Condo Commando, a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly of 2014 based on wins in the Grade 1 Spinaway and Grade 2 Demoiselle.

Paulassilverlining, a multiple sprint stakes winner, finished second, 13 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Sweet On Smokey. Hold Me Down, Overprepared, and Liberty Island completed the order of finish.

Condo Commando hadn’t run since her 11 1/2-length victory in last November’s Demoiselle and the harsh winter in New York didn’t allow for a regular training schedule for her this winter.

Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of Condo Commando, said he didn’t feel the filly was 100 percent ready but he needed to get her started if she was to get on the road to the Kentucky Oaks on May 1. 

Breaking from the outside post in the six-horse field, Condo Commando, under Junior Alvarado, took an awkward step coming out of the gate and veered in. She quickly recovered, rushed up and was two lengths in front entering the first turn.

“She broke good the first jump but as soon as she went for her second stride it felt to me she grabbed herself in the front with the back leg,” Alvarado said. “It was a little weird what she did there. But after that, I just showed her the whip a little bit to put her in the game.”

Condo Commando remained clear of the field through a quarter in 24.54 seconds, a half-mile in 48.78, and six furlongs in 1:13.14.

Paulassilverlining, under Angel Arroyo, was inside of two other horses chasing Condo Commando and got within a length of her approaching the quarter pole.

But Arroyo shook up Condo Commando and the filly responded, running away from her rival in the snowy stretch. Condo Commando, a daughter of Tiz Wonderful owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and The Elkstone Group, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.52 and returned $2.40 to win as the 1-5 favorite.

“She didn’t switch leads,” Alvarado said. “Turning for home I showed the whip and tapped her on the shoulder and she responded right away. I tried one time to make her switch leads and she didn’t want to so I didn’t want to keep going after her to do that.”

Rodriguez said that Condo Commando did not grab herself and that her feet and legs were clean after the race. Rodriguez said he thought the effort was good.

“She did what she was supposed to do,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t expect her to run big. I think she’s better than these horses and she did it the right way. Like I told Michael Dubb and all the partners, she was not 100 percent, but we’re looking for something better for her. This was the first race of the year and I’m glad to see her win.”

By virtue of her victory in the Busher, Condo Commando earned 50 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Oaks in a system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field in the event more than 14 horses enter the race.

Condo Commando will most likely make her next start in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle Stakes over Aqueduct’s main track on April 4.