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OZONE PARK, NY – Louis Lazzinnaro’s The Grass Is Blue brought home the green in Sunday’s $100,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct.
Wearing blinkers for the first time, The Grass Is Blue broke from the far outside post 5 as the 8/5 favorite under Manny Franco and was forced to steady behind an awkwardly-running Coffee Bar, who soon settled behind fellow Repole Stable-owned and Todd Pletcher-trained Traffic Lane.
The field of five 3-year-old fillies stayed close together through pedestrian opening fractions of :24.44, :49.73, and 1:15.32. Traffic Lane rounded the turn still on top, but The Grass Is Blue was loaded just behind her and soon exploded once tipped out three-wide halfway home.
The Grass Is Blue ranged up and past Coffee Bar to take command just past the 1/8 pole, then inched steadily away until the Chad Brown trainee crossed 1 length clear on the wire, completing the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route in 1:54.90.
“I knew I had a lot of horse under me the whole way around,” Franco said. “The blinkers helped a lot. I was just waiting for the right moment to make my move, and at the 1/4 pole, she just accelerated. With the blinkers first time, I knew she was going to take me there. I just wanted to give her a breather at some point during the race and that’s why I stayed inside. When the time came, I tipped out and she just accelerated. She got the distance really well.”
Coffee Bar was 5 lengths clear of Diamond Ore, who outkicked slowing rivals for third. Traffic Lane and Wonderwall completed the order of finish.
The Busanda is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. The Grass Is Blue earned 10 points for the win, with Coffee Bar receiving 4 for second, Diamond Ore 2 for third, and Traffic Lane 1 for fourth.
The Grass Is Blue’s win was her first at the stakes level and improved her overall record to 5-3-0-1 with $121,978 earned. The Broken Vow filly was purchased for $20,000 as a yearling and privately sold to Lazzinnaro following an 8 1/2-length debut score at Monmouth Park when she was risked for a $25,000 tag.
“I think Manny gave the horse a perfect trip,” Lazzinnaro said. “It looked like she liked the track a lot, so we’ll probably keep her here during the winter and let Chad figure out what to do and how to go about winning another race with her. Chad took his time with her and got her going good. The distance was good for her today.”
The Grass Is Blue returned $5.50 to win, $2.90 to place, and $2.10 to show. Coffee Bar brought back $3.10 to place and $2.30 to show, while Diamond Ore paid $2.90 to show.
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