Paint Me Red, who began her career in Florida, took to the cold weather at Aqueduct to win the $80,850 Busanda Stakes Jan. 13.
The third choice in the six-horse field of 3-year-old fillies, Paint Me Red came from off the pace under Ramon Dominguez to win her first stakes race.
La Porta finished second in the mile and 70-yard race, 3 3/4 lengths in front of Sumptuous. The runner-up and third-place finisher are both trained by Todd Pletcher. Sunday Elegance, another Pletcher-trainee and the 2-1 favorite, finished fifth.
D J Lightning, who took a bad step upon entering the backstretch of the two-turn race, was pulled up and vanned off the track. Paint Me Red, who was running behind D J Lightning, was forced to go outside the injured horse.
Sunday Elegance set the pace through fractions of :23.55 and :48.13, and relinquished her lead around the far turn to Wonderwho’sbest, who held the advantage turning for home.
The winner was five lengths back in last, after three-quarters was run in 1:13.25. As Wonderwho’sbest tired in the final furlong, La Porta looked poised for victory, but Paint Me Red came with a late rush to collar her rival.
“She never really gave me the feeling that I had a lot of horse,” Dominguez said of the winner. “I really thought I didn’t have a chance when (D J Lightning) broke down in front of me, and I had to go around her. (Paint Me Red) surprised me off the turn, because I asked her and, all of a sudden, she was there.”
Paint Me Red returned $8.70 and covered the distance in 1:44.06 over a fast track. The exacta paid $73.50 and the trifecta returned $358.00.
“Horses either go one way or another coming up from Florida,” said winning trainer Gary Contessa. “Sometimes, they fall apart in the cold; other times, they excel. Obviously, she’s excelled. She has improved since the day we got her, and I just don’t think she was a Florida horse.”
Paint Me Red was making her first start in the Busanda for Contessa. The winner, a daughter of Red Bullet, is owned by Winning Move Stable, Celebrity Group Stable, et al. She was bred by Adena Springs.
Paint Me Red, a Florida-bred, won a maiden race and also finished second and third in a pair of non-graded stakes at Calder last fall.