Eleven three-year-old fillies will take a swing at earning Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying point Sunday in the $100,000 Busanda at Aqueduct. As part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, the Busanda offers points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.
All but Afleet Destiny and Filly Joel will be traveling nine furlongs for the first time on Sunday. That pair last ran in the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle (G1) on December 1, a race Positive Spirit won by 10 1/2 lengths. Sent off at 26-1 following a Parx maiden win in her fifth start, Afleet Destiny finished second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Filly Joel.
The cleverly-named Filly Joel was also exiting a maiden win, albeit a more dominating one by more than six lengths at Belmont Park. The Rudy Rodriguez trainee set the pace in the Demoiselle but didn’t see out the trip despite setting a very slow pace. The final time of 1:56 was the slowest running of the Demoiselle contested at nine furlongs by some margin.
Among the least exposed is Miss Marilyn, a gate-to-wire maiden winner by three parts of a length over the Todd Pletcher-trained Always Shopping in mid-December going one mile. Miss Marilyn drew post 11 for the Busanda, while Always Shopping, an Awesome Again daughter of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) runner-up Stopshoppingmaria, looks to reach the winner’s circle for the first time from post 1.
Six of the fillies are based in either Maryland or Pennsylvania, with several having struggled in prior stakes attempts. Getting Warmer defeated Afleet Destiny in her maiden win in October at Parx and then followed up with an allowance win before finishing a distant fifth in the $100,000 Gin Talking at Laurel last time.