Aqueduct: Busanda Stakes
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher has won four of the last five runnings of the Busanda Stakes, and the main reason he hasn’t won five straight is that he didn’t have a runner in the 2012 edition.
On Saturday, Pletcher will seek his fourth straight Busanda victory when he sends out Alto Belle in the $100,000 stakes for 3-year-old fillies, scheduled for a mile and 70 yards over Aqueduct’s inner track. An expected winter storm puts Saturday’s card in jeopardy of being canceled.
The Busanda offers 17 qualifying points (10 -4-2-1) to the top four finishers toward the Kentucky Oaks on May 6. In 2013, Princess of Sylmar won the Busanda en route to an upset victory in the Oaks.
Alto Belle, a daughter of Trappe Shot, won a maiden race by 18 1/2 lengths on Nov. 20 over Aqueduct’s main track. She hasn’t run since, owing in large part to the failure of a first-level allowance race to fill. Prior to her win, Alto Belle finished second in an off-the-turf maiden race at Belmont in September and sixth in a turf race at Belmont in October.
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Alto Belle from post 5.
Irad’s brother Jose will be aboard Flora Dora, whose lone victory from four career starts came in the $500,000 My Dear Girl Stakes, a division of the Florida Sire Stakes, at Gulfstream Park in October. Since then, she has finished second to Big World in the Grade 3 Tempted, a one-turn mile at Aqueduct, and fourth, beaten three lengths, by Lewis Bay in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct.
It took Scatoosh six races to earn her first victory, but that came by a widening 4 1/2 lengths over the inner track on New Year’s Day. She gets Kendrick Carmouche, who had also been the regular rider of Flora Dora. Scatoosh is trained by Leah Gyarmati, who is 7 for 23 at the innertrack meet.
The maiden winners Dreams to Reality, Kentucky Road, and Arch or Nothing and the maiden She’s So Fine complete the field.