Saturday’s feature at Aqueduct is the Busanda, named for the mare who puts the lie to the idea that accomplished race mares make lousy broodmares. Busanda beat the boys in the Suburban and twice in the Saratoga Cup; she also won the Alabama, the Top Flight, and the Diana. And when she was finished racing, she headed to the farm where she foaled…Buckpasser, in addition to other stakes winners.
Busanda was bred and owned by Ogden Phipps, who drew upon his naval experience in naming his filly:
The name is an abbreviation for the Navy’s Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. It’s highly appropriate because the filly is by War Admiral and out of a mare named Businesslike. Phipps learned Navy lingo during World War II, when he was a three-striper. (New York Times, subscription required)
Busanda was trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, a fellow Brooklynite, hailing from Sheepshead Bay, and ridden in the Suburban by 18-year-old Bermudian Keith Stuart, who was also on board for Busanda’s win in the Alabama.
In the Suburban, Busanda carried less weight than any of her competitors, given two dozen pounds less than the favorite, Brookemeade Stable’s Greek Ship.
A crowd of nearly 54,000 turned out to see the Suburban on that May day in 1951, betting a season-high $3,478,034. Check out the photos of the packed apron (New York Times subscription required).
Busanda had raced the previous week and won at 13 – 1, prompting her connections to enter her in the Suburban; the crowd were not believers, letting her go as they did at 15 – 1. She paid $32.60 to win; Lone Eagle, finishing second, paid $65.50 to place.
Busanda raced 65 times and won ten times—not a particularly distinguished record, but she seems to have showed up when it counted. In addition to her wins in the Suburban, Saratoga Cup, Alabama, and Diana, she was second in the Delaware Oaks and Saratoga Handicap; and she was third in the Manhattan and Coaching Club American Oaks. Altogether, she hit the board 28 times.
I love that these winter stakes races are named for horses that few of us remember; they give us an opportunity to recall them, both the horses and the long-ago races. In addition, Busanda reminds us of days when fillies and mares regularly raced against colts and horses, and that striking performances on the racetrack didn’t necessarily mean failure in the breeding shed.