OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Stakes-placed Morning Matcha and graded-stakes placed Magic Circle will do battle in pursuit of Kentucky Oaks qualifying points in Sunday’s 48th running of the $100,000 Busanda at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The nine-furlong event for 3-year-old fillies offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
With a perfect in-the-money record of 7-2-3-2, Cash is King Racing, LC Racing and Gary Barber’s Morning Matcha brags field-best earnings of $247,390.
Trained by Butch Reid, Jr., Morning Matcha returns to the Big A following a late-closing second in the NYSSS Fifth Avenue on December 18. Trailing the field down the backstretch, Morning Matcha kicked into gear with a late rally to finish 1 3/4 lengths shy of the victorious Yo Cuz.
The Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Central Banker, New York’s leading sire in 2021, broke her maiden going 6 1/2 furlongs at Parx Racing on September 25, only 12 days after earning black type when second in the restricted Finest City at Presque Isle Downs. In her lone start around two turns, Morning Matcha defeated open company by 6 1/4 lengths going one mile at Parx on November 16.
Morning Matcha, who was initially expected to ship to South Florida for the winter, remained in training at Reid, Jr.’s primary division at Parx in preparation for the Busanda.
“The quicker I can get her going longer, the better,” said Reid, Jr. “We’ve had plenty of time since her last race and she had a nice breeze last week. I think we made the right choice keeping her up here. She’s been like that where she doesn’t like to overextend too early on. That’s why Kendrick [Carmouche] is riding her back, he knows the filly really well.”
Carmouche, who piloted the filly to both of her career wins, retains the mount from post 3 in pursuit of his second Busanda score.
While Morning Matcha attempts to make a good first impression on the Oaks trail, Magic Circle will seek to build on a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Demoiselle on December 4 at Aqueduct, where she earned two Kentucky Oaks qualifying points.
J.W. Singer’s Kantharos sophomore chestnut set slow fractions while in command throughout most of the nine-furlong Demoiselle journey before veering out in mid-stretch, ultimately giving way in the final sixteenth.
After a successful career debut at Saratoga at 25-1 odds in September, the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Magic Circle was a distant fourth in the Grade 1 Frizette on October 3 at Belmont Park before finishing a close second in the Tempted one month later.
Magic Circle breezed a half-mile in 51.12 Sunday over the Belmont dirt training track.
“She worked well Sunday morning,” Rodriguez said. “When you’re running against these type of horses, it’s tough. She’s just a very laid back filly. She lets us do whatever we need with her. She’s shown plenty of promise from Day One. She’s coming into the race well. We just have to hope for the best.”
Jose Ortiz, a two-time Busanda winner, will pick up the mount from the inside post.
After a collaborative triumph with The Grass Is Blue in 2021, trainer Chad Brown and owner Louis Lazzinnaro will vie to become the first trainer-owner combo to score back-to-back Busanda wins with Waters of Merom.
The daughter of Connect, who also is owned by FIN Stables, was claimed for $30,000 out of a two-turn maiden claimer in October at Keeneland, which she won by 8 1/2 lengths. She made a winning debut for her new connections on January 6 at Aqueduct, traveling a one-turn mile at the starter allowance optional claiming level.
Dylan Davis returns to the irons from post 2.
Hall of Famer Bill Mott seeks a third Busanda score with Mike G. Rutherford homebred Rosebug. The daughter of American Pharoah found the winner’s circle at fourth asking over a sloppy and sealed Big A main track on December 30.
Rosebug is out of multiple stakes-winning Menifee mare Taittinger Rose, who was fourth in the 2004 Busanda before winning the Pennsylvania Oaks later that year. Rosebug’s fourth dam is 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Twilight Ridge.
Manny Franco will attempt to win his third Busanda in the past four runnings when guiding Rosebug from the outermost post 6.
Completing the field are Gamestonks [post 4, Trevor McCarthy] and Reigning Chick [post 5, Jalon Samuel].
The Busanda 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 maternal granddaughter of the influential 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.
The Busanda is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Aqueduct Press Release
Photo: Magic Circle breaking her maiden at Saratoga Sept. 5, 2021, under Manny Franco. (NYRA/Coglianese)