02/22/2009 12:00AM

Busher a test for top pair


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though Pumpkin Shell and What a Pear have combined to win their last five starts, the connections of both 3-year-old fillies truly don't know just how good a horse they have.

Perhaps the two can be a measuring stick for each other when they head a seven-horse field entered in Sunday's $65,000 Busher Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over Aqueduct's inner track. Last year's Busher winner, Little Belle, went on to win the Grade 1 Ashland and finish second in the Kentucky Oaks.

David Donk, trainer of Pumpkin Shell, and Joe Parker, trainer of What a Pear, hope their fillies are good enough to compete in such races. Pumpkin Shell enters the Busher having rallied from well off the pace in both a maiden race and the Busanda. There is not much speed in this race, but Donk is hopeful Pumpkin Shell's turn of foot will be good enough to get the job done.

"I know Chucky [Lopez] was pretty high on her last time," Donk said. "If she can come back and show the same kind of finish, obviously then there are a lot of options out there. I'd love to see her move forward. This race will let me know whether I can get a little ambitious or lower my sights."

Pumpkin Shell will break from post 3.

What a Pear, a New York-bred daughter of E Dubai, has won all three of her starts for the Tri-Bone Stables of Bernice and Ira Cohen. After winning two statebred races, What a Pear stepped into open company and won the Wistful Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths. In that race, she showed the ability to race close to the pace, a style that might serve her well Sunday.

"Every race has been an improvement," Parker said. "Every time she won, she showed a new dimension, she proved that she could do it. I'm anxious to see what's going to happen now."

What a Pear will break from post 2 under Channing Hill.

Mike Repole, who has vaulted to the top of the owner standings, sends out the coupled entry of My Anguilla and Driven by Passion. My Anguilla, a New York-bred daughter of Cherokee Run, will be stretching out from sprints and could be the main speed under Eddie Castro. Driven by Passion, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Flatter, comes off a maiden win in her third career start.

Lilly of Paradise, Kiss and Fly, and Subprime complete the field.