01/20/2006 1:00AM

Absence of favorite helps Contessa filly

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The decision by New York Racing Association officials to prohibit Maryland-based horses from shipping to Aqueduct because of an outbreak of equine herpes at Pimlico has a major impact on Sunday's $65,000 Busanda Stakes over the inner track.

Sea Pines, a filly stabled at Laurel Park, would likely have been favored in the Busanda, a mile and 70-yard race for 3-year-old fillies. Now she won't be allowed to run. The Busanda was originally scheduled for last Sunday, but was postponed when inclement weather forced that card to be scrapped.

"It's very upsetting," said Gregory Wilson, trainer of Sea Pines.

Five of the six fillies originally entered for the Busanda are back, and has joined the field. Gorgeous Mistress will be coupled in the wagering with Last Romance, since both are owned by Sanford Goldfarb and Michael Dubb. With only five betting interests, the Busanda is carded as the third race of the day.

With Sea Pines out, Daytime Promise may be the horse to beat. She comes off a 5 1/2-length maiden win over the inner track on Jan. 1. Trainer Gary Contessa was quite happy the Busanda was delayed a week, because it gave Daytime Promise extra time to recover from what was a very strong race, according to speed figures Contessa uses.

Based on Ragozin sheet numbers, Contessa said, Daytime Promise "laid over the field as it was last week."

"I hated the thought of running back in 15 days," he said. "It's a tremendous advantage giving her another week."

Though her sire, Five Star Day, was best known as a successful sprinter, "had distance written all over her from the day I bought her," said Contessa, who purchased Daytime Promise for $112,000 at auction last May.

Daytime Promise took advantage of a swift pace to win her maiden three weeks ago. Jet Set Broad and Mississippi Madam are sprinters stretching out around two turns for the first time and could show some speed.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. claimed Last Romance for $65,000 last August at Saratoga, and she has won two straight since - a six-furlong maiden claiming race over Aqueduct's main track Nov. 4 and an entry-level allowance race by 4 1/4 lengths over the inner track on Dec. 18.

Gorgeous Mistress, trained by Tony Dutrow, finished second to Last Romance on Dec. 18 and came back to win a $40,000 claiming race by five lengths on Jan. 13.

, fourth behind Last Romance and Gorgeous Mistress last out, completes the field.