Busanda -- A good place to start

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Jen Caldwell

January 15th, 2015

NYRA/Adam Coglianese PhotographyAqueduct’s Busanda Stakes has enjoyed few quality fillies since its inaugural running in 1974, with perhaps the most notable being champion Wayward Lass in 1981.

The race is named after a filly -- by Triple Crown winner War Admiral and granddaughter of blue-hen mare *La Troienne -- who beat the boys in the 1951 Suburban Handicap as well as back-to-back editions of the Saratoga Cup (1951-52).

However, Busanda’s biggest claim to fame is as the dam of 1966 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Buckpasser, an Ogden Phipps homebred who epitomized his blue-blood on the track and in the breeding shed.

Unfortunately, the Busanda Stakes never seemed to draw the same quality competition as its namesake.

That all changed in 2013, when the race was included on the original schedule of points races for the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

That was the year Princess of Sylmar romped by 7 ½ lengths in the Busanda. Three races later the chestnut miss would take the Kentucky Oaks and go on to complete a quartet of Grade 1 victories in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama Stakes and Beldame Invitational.

The Busanda has always been used as a prep race for bigger events at Aqueduct.

But races at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park and Gulfstream Park usually attract more attention, and better fields, than anything that Aqueduct offers this time of year. A lot of training outfits prefer to stay in the milder climates of South Florida and Louisiana than brave the frigid cold of Jamaica, New York.

However, Princess of Sylmar’s connections resided in the Northeast, making it perfectly logical to run her in New York. And boy did that filly run.

Besides her Busanda romp, Princess of Sylmar broke her maiden by 19 lengths at Penn National and took the Busher Stakes at Aqueduct by seven lengths.

Pretty good introduction for the Busanda on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks calendar.

The 2014 running didn’t produce a runner of Princess of Sylmar’s caliber, but with just two years in the books the race has plenty of time to establish itself as a necessary stop on the trail.

This year’s one-mile-and-70-yard edition features a field of nine sophomore fillies looking for their claim to fame. And while the Busanda doesn’t hold the panache of Fair Grounds’ Silverbulletday or Gulfstream Park’s Forward Gal, it’s a good place to start.

Photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography