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OZONE PARK, NY – After struggling in the slop last time out, Traffic Lane‘s connections are hoping she catches a fast track in Sunday’s $100,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct.
The Busanda is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route restricted to 3-year-old fillies and is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks prep race season, with 10 points awarded for the win, 4 for second, 2 for third, and 1 for fourth. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 9-race card and has a local post time of 3:50 PM.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Busanda:
1. Diamond Ore 8/1 – She ships north after breaking her maiden by a 1/2-length at fourth asking while routing at Tampa Bay Downs on Christmas Eve. She’s a younger half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Arrogate, and while she only earned a 57 Beyer Speed Figure that day, it was her first time on dirt and she did it without race-day Lasix.
“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.”
2. Coffee Bar 8/5 – Trainer Todd Pletcher supplemented this Repole Stable homebred into the field after she dusted her fellow New York-bred fillies by 8 1/4 lengths in a local one-turn dirt mile event just 2 weeks ago. The 73 Beyer Speed Figure that she earned makes her competitive here, but she’ll have to repeat that strong effort without race-day Lasix in this time around.
3. Wonderwall 5/1 – Trainer Claudio Gonzalez claimed her for $25k out of her maiden-breaking victory, a 7 1/4-length triumph while going a one-turn dirt mile at Laurel Park in mid-December. She immediately paid dividends by whipping optional claimers by 10 1/2 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile route and earned a field-best 75 Beyer Speed Figure on January 8.
“She came back good from that race and that’s why we decided to go (to the Busanda,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not an easy race and will be a challenge for her, but we can try. Since she did so good the last time, it looks like she can handle a little more (distance).”
4. Traffic Lane 4/1 – The second Repole Stable-owned and Pletcher-trained entry is hoping to make amends for her disappointing fifth in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2), held locally at this distance over a sloppy (sealed) track. She broke her maiden in a turf route and has only caught a fast dirt track once, when she finished fourth on debut in an off-turf Saratoga sprint.
“She didn’t take to (the wet conditions), but it looks like we’ll have a fast track this weekend, so we should see some improvement there,” said assistant trainer Byron Hughes. “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.”
5. The Grass Is Blue 7/5 – She finished third by just a neck as the 7/5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Anne Arundel County Stakes at Laurel Park last month after getting bumped at the start and forced to run wide in the lane. The always-dangerous trainer Chad Brown puts blinkers on her for the first time, but while he won 23% of his starts in 2020, he was just 2 for 21 when adding a hood.
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