By Ryan Martin
The Road to the Kentucky Oaks will go through New York when Diamond Ore takes on four other sophomore fillies in Sunday’s 47th running of the $100,000 Busanda going nine furlongs over the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Busanda is a local qualifier for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, scheduled to be run on April 30 at Churchill Downs, awarding the top-four finishers points on a 10-4-2-1 scale.
The race honors Ogden Phipps’ 1950 Alabama winner, whose name is an anacronym for the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts (BuSandA) – a Navy bureau that Phipps had served in during World War II. As a broodmare, Busanda, a daughter of War Admiral and granddaughter of the prolific broodmare La Troienne, produced Hall of Famer and prestigious sire Buckpasser and was also the great granddam of 1984 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Outstandingly.
Clearview Stable’s Diamond Ore, a $750,000 purchase at the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, makes her stakes debut for trainer Barb Minshall following a maiden-breaking effort routing on the Tampa Bay Downs dirt on December 24.
The Tapit bay, out of the multiple stakes winning Distorted Humor mare Bubbler, is a half-sister to champion Arrogate, who won the 2016 Travers at Saratoga Race Course in a track record time of 1:59.36.
Diamond Ore made her first three starts on Tapeta for the Woodbine-based Minshall, who captured the 2017 Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga with Dream It Is, and will send out her first representative at the Big A since Hollywood Hideaway ran third in the 2017 Artie Schiller.
Following a pair of sprint efforts at Woodbine, Diamond Ore rallied to be second when stretched out to two turns for the first time on November 14 at the Rexdale, Ontario oval garnering a career-best 70 Beyer Speed Figure.
Minshall said the well-bred Diamond Ore is ready for her stakes debut.
“With her pedigree any blacktype is important,” said Minshall. “Hopefully, we can do that for the owners, and she could move forward from this. The horses will tell you where you can go. They sort themselves out. It’s early in the 3-year-old year and this is a good chance to see what she’s got and see how she handles the dirt in more difficult company.”
Minshall said Diamond Ore will appreciate the added distance Sunday and enters with the benefit of additional training at her Ocala, Florida base on the Winding Oaks Farm dirt, including a five-eighths breeze on January 15 in 1:02 flat.
“The farther she goes the better. She’s very game,” said Minshall. “She’s trained very well on the dirt here at Winding Oaks. I find she’s moved forward with her training. She’s done everything right and deserves a chance to move on.”
Minshall said outside of the addition of jockey Eric Cancel, there will be no changes for Diamond Ore who will emerge from post 1.
“Everything’s the same. She wears a small cup blinker. She’s pretty straightforward,” said Minshall. “I did race her on Lasix at Woodbine, but she raced at Tampa without it and I didn’t have any problems.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 2013 Busanda with subsequent Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar, will attempt a sixth triumph in the Busanda with Repole Stables’ Traffic Lane.
The daughter of second crop sire Outwork set the pace in the Grade 2 Demoiselle on December 5 over a sloppy and sealed Big A main track last out but faded to a distant fifth, finishing 18 ¼ lengths to stable mate Malathaat.
Pletcher’s Belmont Park-based assistant Byron Hughes noted that neither the Demoiselle winner nor Traffic Lane liked the off-going but is optimistic for a better effort on Sunday.
The National Weather Service calls for partly cloudy skies and zero percent chance of precipitation on Sunday for the Ozone Park area.
“She didn’t take to it either, but it looks like we’ll have a fast track this weekend so we should see some improvement there,” said Hughes. “Our overall impression is that she didn’t care for the off track.”
Prior to her stakes debut, third time was the charm for Traffic Lane, who graduated on November 15 over a good outer turf course at Aqueduct after two efforts in off-the-turf maiden events. In the 1 1/16-mile event, Traffic Lane tracked a length off the pace and secured a three-quarter length triumph over next-out winner Candace O.
“It was all just experience, that was the main thing,” Hughes said. “She hasn’t been the most precocious filly, but I think the experience helped her and the races under her belt helped her. When she did break her maiden, she did it as we expected her to.”
Bred in Kentucky by Oak Lodge Bloodstock, Traffic Lane was purchased for $95,000 from the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the Blandford Stud consignment and is the second offspring out of the Quality Road mare Katie Lane.
With Jose Lezcano aboard, Traffic Lane will emerge from post 4.
The Pletcher-Repole combo will also be represented by New York homebred Coffee Bar, who is entered off two weeks’ rest from an 8 ¼-length maiden win on January 10 going a one-turn mile at Aqueduct.
Also a daughter of Outwork, Coffee Bar was a distant third on debut, but sat a couple of lengths closer to pace in her maiden victory to draw off a decisive winner while registering a 73 Beyer.
Coffee Bar will receive the riding services of the Big A’s current leading rider Kendrick Carmouche from post 2.
Trainer Chad Brown sends out Louis Lazzinnaro’s The Grass Is Blue after a close third in the December 26 Safely Kept at Laurel Park. The chestnut daughter of Broken Vow won on debut for a $25,000 tag at Monmouth Park by 8 ½ lengths and defeated winners in a Keeneland allowance on October 4 over next out stakes winner Feeling Mischief.
Bred in Kentucky by Phillips Racing Partnership, The Grass Is Blue is out of the Aldebaran mare Shine Softly, whose dam was 1999 Champion Turf Mare Soaring Softly.
Jockey Manny Franco will pilot The Grass Is Blue from post 5.
Wonderwall was dropped into a $25,000 maiden claiming tilt at Laurel Park on December 19 off a pair of swift works and proved she was no morning glory with a sharp 7 1/4-length score.
Claimed out of that winning effort by owner Marcial Cornejo, Wonderwall posted a supersonic effort in her first start for trainer Claudio Gonzalez when romping by 10 1/2-lengths in a 1 1/16-mile optional-claiming tilt last out on January 8 at Laurel that garnered a career-best 75 Beyer.
Wonderwall will be ridden by Trevor McCarthy from post 3.
The Busanda is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race program, which has a first post of 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
Photo Credit: NYRA