2016 Busanda Stakes Preview

“Breed the best to the best and hope for the best.”  — Cornelius Vanderbilt (C. V.) Whitney, founding father of racing’s Hall of Fame.

Busanda, perhaps, crystallizes the quote of C. V. Whitney.  She was owned by the Phipps Family and trained by Sonny Fitzsimmons and came from such regal breeding.  By War Admiral out of Blue Larkspur mare Businesslike, it saw a Triple Crown winner on top with a broodmare sire that won from distances of a mile (Withers Stakes) to a mile and a half (Belmont Stakes).  Busanda campaigned in the early fifties – a time before grades on races and when running nearly every week or every other week didn’t raise an eyebrow.  The career record, on paper, doesn’t raise eyes with numbers of 65: 10-5-13, but she won the Alabama at three, the Top Flight and Suburban (against males), and the Diana (when on dirt).  In the breeding shed, Busanda made her mark.  When bred to Tom Fool, the Tom Fool x Busanda mating produced Buckpasser, 1966 Horse of the Year and broodmare sire of Easy Goer.  For more on Busanda, consult Teresa Genaro’s piece.

The Busanda Stakes serves as the feature race this week at Aqueduct.  It’s winter time, so it’s Inner Dirt Track season at the Big A.   Contested for the forty-third time in 2016, the race started at seven furlongs before settling in to the mile category in 1977.  In 1983 the race took on its current distance at a mile and seventy yards.  Notable winners include Tampa Bay Downs stakes nameplate and champion sophomore filly Wayward Lass (1981) Black-Eyed Susan winner Aztec Hill (1993), Grade One winner Island Sand (2004), and Princess of Sylmar (2013), who used the Big A as her prepatory place before annexing the Kentucky Oaks.

Princess of Sylmar, betweem rivals at the top of the lane, wins easily in the 2013 Busanda. Video courtesy NYRA/Youtube.

Morning line odds for this race, originally scheduled for Saturday January 23rd and postponed to Sunday January 31st, were not available at original publish time.  .

Aqueduct — Race 9 — Busanda Stakes — One mile and seventy yards on Inner Dirt — post time 4:20 pm ET

This piece is made with the field as constituted, scheduled for January 31st.   As constituted, you’ll find a field of seven three-year-old fillies in this early Kentucky Oaks prep going two turns on the Inner Dirt.  Kentucky Oaks points in a 10-4-2-1 arrangement and $100,000 purse funds are the spoils.

This race sees ALTO BELLE try two turns for the first time.  But her last time on the track was back in November at Aqueduct going a one-turn mile where she won by a zip code setting an honest pace and obliging at even money.  The fact she set honest fractions going a one-turn mile could help her in this two turn race.  As she’s coming off a freshening, perhaps she’s keen on the lead and becomes the speed of the speed – not a bad thing on the IDT.  Plus, we’ve already seen the speed go for a mile.  The other speed – LOST RAVEN – doesn’t appear as quick in the early stages given that she was setting the snail-slow pace in the G2 Demoiselle last fall.  It looks as though two turns is within reason as is the Busanda’s mile and seventy with Tiznow as a broodmare sire.   Irad Ortiz has the call for Todd Pletcher on this runner that while popular at the windows looks to be worth the wager as controlling distance-capable speed. Rail-drawn FLORA DORA appears to be the field’s class, as she has appearances in Aqueduct’s fall frosh filly stakes.  A restricted stakes winner three back in the Florida Stallion series three back at Gulfstream, she tried two turns last time in the slow-to-the-clock Demosielle.  Maybe there was no speed and the switch to a more lively pace helps her, as there was a more sensible pace two back in the G3 Tempted.  A two-turn winner and a stakes winner, FLORA DORA is also a logical play if you believe the best thing to when handicapping an Aqueduct is the Circle the Ortiz Rider and Move On.  She goes back to two turns and an honest pace – things present in her better starts.  SCATOOSH got the diploma last time going a mile and a sixteenth over the Inner Dirt.  After five starts and three seconds, the win came at the Big A.  It’s possible she needed a softer field than the Saratoga or Belmont maidens (that went to warmer climes and/or up in class).  But her win last out was her first start on dirt going two turns.  Maybe she needed two-turn dirt all along.  In any case, the light bulb may have turned in and she could be on the surface she’s always wanted.  She’s proven to sit off a slower pace, so she’ll be one to look for off the pace potentially in this stakes.


#5 ALTO BELLE (5/2)

#1 FLORA DORA (3/1)

#8 SCATOOSH (4/1)

Longshot: #2 SHE’S SO FINE (20/1) may be a maiden, and the fact she’s jumping from maiden special weights to listed stakes will certainly turn off bettors who think it’s a bridge too far.  But there are competent humans at the controls – trainer Mike Maker and rider Aaron Gryder, the latter who can boot home prices with aplomb.  SHE’S SO FINE is making that jump, but she’s doing so in career start two, when it’s the best time to make a progression in form.  SHE’S SO FINE showed some life in that career debut moving up a position and a couple lengths in the lane.  She might tap into the built in upside while also building off her debut, and her lack of class/resume ensure a modicum of price.


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Filed under: Aqueduct, horse racing

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