This year marks the 45th running of the Busanda Stakes. The races's namesake was a mare who excelled both on the track and in the breeding shed. A 1947 daughter of Triple Crown winner War Admiral, bred by Ogden Phipps, her female line was just as regal. Busanda was out of the mare Businesslike, who herself was by Hall of Fame inductee Blue Larkspur and out of the heavily influential broodmare La Troienne. On the track, Busanda's crowning racing triumphs came in New York. She won the Alabama Stakes in 1950, and the Diana Handicap in 1952. She prevailed over males in the Suburban Handicap in 1951, and in the Saratoga Cup in both 1951 and 1952. After her racing career, she foaled three stakes winners. Her first foal to race, a 1954 Polynesian son named Bureaucracy, won the Dwyer in 1957. Her 1961 foal, a Double Jay son named Bupers, won the Belmont Futurity in 1963. Her highest-achieving foal, a 1963 son by Tom Fool, was Hall of Fame inductee and five-time Eclipse award winner Buckpasser.
The Busanda Stakes was inaugurated in 1974, and has been run every year since. It was originally seven furlongs, stretched to 1 1/16 miles in 1977, shortened to 1 mile 70 yards in 1983, then lengthened to a mile and an eighth with this season's move to winter racing on the outer dirt track. To date, only one winner of the Busanda Stakes has gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks: Princess of Sylmar, who won by an emphatic seven and a half lengths in 2013. Among other winners of this race, the most notable is 1981 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Wayward Lass (1981), who proceeded to win the Ruthless (G3), the Mother Goose (G1), and the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) later that year.
Princess of Sylmar wins the 2013 Busanda with ease. She would go on to upset Beholder in the Kentucky Oaks.
This year's edition of the Busanda was originally scheduled for January 21, but was postponed because it did not originally fill. Rescheduled for Thursday, January 25, the race drew six entries to vie for a $100,000 purse, plus Road to the Kentucky Oaks points (10-4-2-1) for the top four finishers.
Morning lines were not available at original publish time. Updated Wednesday, January 24 to add morning lines.
Thursday, January 25 - Aqueduct Racetrack
Race 3: Busanda Stakes, three-year-old fillies, one mile and one eighth on the dirt, post time 1:20pm EST
HAIL faces winners for the first time here, but should prove up to the task. Six and a half furlongs on debut proved too short, but it tightened the screws for a second-out score going a mile over the Aqueduct main. The Bill Mott trainee has shown in both outings that she can pass horses and that she can handle the Aqueduct main, and in her maiden victory she proved her mettle in a short-field situation. Furthermore, HAIL more than anyone should benefit from the stretch out to a mile and an eighth. Her breeding is impeccable for the distance, as she is a Tapit half to solid nine-furlong mare Close Hatches.
MIDNIGHT DISGUISE brings the most accomplished resume into the Busanda, making her worth a look. Though the entire field is eligible for a one-other-than, MIDNIGHT DISGUISE has two wins to her name: an easy debut score against NY-bred $50K maiden claimers, and another comfortable victory in a $50K starter allowance. She notched up to NY-bred stakes company in the East View Stakes on January 14, and held her own -- she finished second behind a very talented filly in English Soul. Though this means MIDNIGHT DISGUISE comes into the Busanda off just a week and a half's rest, Linda Rice is a trainer you can trust to be live with runners on quick wheel-backs. The biggest question is the distance, since her pedigree is a little dodgy for nine panels. But, if MIDNIGHT DISGUISE can run back to her recent one-turn efforts in this two-turn spot, she should be right there to stalk and pounce.
The top two loom large, but if anyone were to spring the upset, OLDFASHIONED STYLE may have a tactical edge. Speed in a short field can be a dangerous asset, and she should be fast enough to beat TAKE CHARGE TINA to the lead. Though her last outing in the Gin Talking Stakes at Laurel was a disappointment, she finished a respectable second two back in the Tempted Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, and a better start should make OLDFASHIONED STYLE the one they'll have to catch late.
#5 HAIL (8/5)
#1 MIDNIGHT DISGUISE (7/2)
#2 OLDFASHIONED STYLE (5/1)
Longshot: Seeing this six-horse field, the longshot writer has returned to muttering something about "Pegasus" and "War Story" in their little corner. You're a bit more timely, longshot writer, but still a few days early.
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