March 5, 2021

The Grass Is Blue takes on Pletcher duo in Busanda

The Grass Is Blue
The Grass is Blue at Keeneland (Coady Photography)

With just five fillies entered in Sunday’s $100,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct, all but one will earn points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1). And if there’s a scratch, the remaining runners can score points by completing the course. The 1 1/8-mile test offers points on the 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four finishers.

Busanda Stakes – Race 8 (3:50 p.m. ET)

The Grass Is Blue comes off a wide-rallying, near-miss third in the Dec. 26 Anne Arundel County at Laurel, her first route attempt, and now adds blinkers for Chad Brown. Previously a Keeneland allowance winner and sixth in the Songbird on Breeders’ Cup Friday, the Broken Vow filly is eligible to appreciate the distance as a granddaughter of champion turf mare Soaring Softly. The Grass is Blue is drawn on the outside with new pilot Manny Franco.

Todd Pletcher, a five-time Busanda winner, has two chances of adding to his total. Both are Repole Stable runners by the Uncle Mo stallion Outwork. Traffic Lane, who broke her maiden over 1 1/16 miles on the Aqueduct turf, faded to fifth in the Demoiselle (G2) at this track and trip Dec. 5. Assistant trainer Byron Hughes believes that a sloppy track compromised her that day, although stablemate Malathaat managed to win despite not being a fan of the surface herself.

“She didn’t take to it either,” Hughes told NYRA publicity, “but it looks like we’ll have a fast track this weekend so we should see some improvement there. Our overall impression is that she didn’t care for the off track.”

Once again the likely pacesetter, Traffic Lane picks up Jose Lezcano. Kendrick Carmouche retains the ride on her homebred stablemate, Coffee Bar, who romped over fellow New York-breds in a mile maiden here Jan. 10. Aside from stretching out, Coffee Bar will experience another change – racing without the Lasix she used last time.

The other contender who goes off Lasix is Laurel shipper Wonderwall, a 10 1/2-length allowance conqueror first off the claim for Claudio Gonzalez. The Munnings filly also dominated a $25,000 maiden claimer without Lasix, but recorded a 73 Brisnet Speed rating that day compared to an 88 in her debut for Gonzalez. Trevor McCarthy rides.

The most intriguing entrant from a pedigree perspective is Diamond Ore, Arrogate’s half-sister by Tapit. Trained by Barbara Minshall for Clearview Stable, the $750,000 Keeneland November weanling scored in her fourth try, but first on dirt, at Tampa Bay Downs Dec. 24. Diamond Ore had placed in two of her three starts on the Woodbine Tapeta last fall, including a third to Souper Sensational on debut, and she figures to keep progressing with maturity.

“With her pedigree any blacktype is important,” Minshall said. “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.

“The farther she goes the better. She’s very game. She’s trained very well on the dirt here at Winding Oaks. I find she’s moved forward with her training. She’s done everything right and deserves a chance to move on.

“Everything’s the same. She wears a small cup blinker. She’s pretty straightforward. I did race her on Lasix at Woodbine, but she raced at Tampa without it, and I didn’t have any problems.”

Diamond Ore will break from the rail with Eric Cancel.