Alto Belle tries to show she’s no fluke in Busanda
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Seventy-two days after winning a maiden race by 18 1/2 lengths, Alto Belle gets a chance to validate the performance when she heads a field of nine 3-year-old fillies set to run in the $100,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct.
The Busanda was originally scheduled for Jan. 23, but was postponed when that card was canceled due to a snowstorm. Drawn with seven that day, the race went with nine for Sunday. The Busanda, which offers qualifying points to the Kentucky Oaks to the top four finishers (10- 4-2-1), is the co-feature on the 10-race progam along with the $100,000 Maddie May Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies. Both races are contested at a mile and 70 yards.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was not planning to wait two months to run Alto Belle, but a firstlevel allowance race failed to fill in late December. Pletcher, who has won the last three runnings of the Busanda – and four of the last five – doesn’t think the 10 weeks will be a factor.
“She’s not a real big filly, doesn’t carry a lot of weight,” Pletcher said. “She trains enthusiastically enough that I think fitness should not be an issue.”
Pletcher believes the two-turn configuration of the Busanda “is going to be good for her.”
With the week delay, Pletcher has also entered Lost Raven, who finished second in the six-furlong Marshua Stakes at Laurel on Jan 16. Also new to the field is Invite, who has not run since finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct on Nov. 28.
In the Maddie May, Frosty Margarita, a two-time sprint stakes winner, will attempt two turns for the first time in a 10-horse field which includes Absatootly and Backwood Bay, noses part when finishing one-two in the East View here on Dec. 27.
BUSANDA (RACE 9)
Alto Belle, by Trappe Shot (Last 3 Beyers: 74-62-61)
◗ She showed good early speed in rolling to an open-length maiden score going a one-turn mile in the mud on Nov. 20. She could be the primary speed again from post 5 under Irad Ortiz Jr. on Sunday.
“I think she’ll be prominent early, that’s her nature,” Pletcher said.
Flora Dora, by First Dude (Last 3 Beyers: 66-75-61)
◗ She was held in reserve behind a slow pace yet finished with interest to be beaten only three lengths in the Demoiselle on Nov. 28.
“I don’t think pace is going to be a factor because I thought she should have been part of the pace a little bit more than she was last time,” said Marialice Coffey, who trains Flora Dora.
◗ Jose Ortiz replaces Kendrick Carmouche in the saddle.
Scatoosh, by Scat Daddy (Last 3 Beyers: 66-72-70)
◗ She ended a streak of three straight second-place finishes with a 4 1/2-length maiden score going 1 1/16 miles over the inner track on New Year’s Day.
MADDIE MAY (RACE 6)
Frosty Margarita, by Frost Giant (Last 3 Beyers: 76-72-66)
◗ She has never finished worse than second in six starts, including a pair of restricted sprint stakes.
◗ She defeated heavily favored Behrnik’s Bank in a six-furlong race over the inner track.
◗ Her pedigree suggests she could handle the stretch-out, and her last two Beyer Speed Figures are higher than the highest recorded by any of her nine rivals.
Backwood Bay, by Girolamo (Last 3 Beyers: 54-65-23)
◗ In a pair of two-turn races at this distance, she was beaten a nose by Absatootly in the East View and won a first-level allowance by a head.
◗ Both races came since trainer Linda Rice removed blinkers.