01/14/2008 12:00AM

Florida shipper Paint Me Red takes Busanda


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Paint Me Red found the cooler climate and softer company of the Northeast to her liking Sunday, as she rallied from last under Ramon Dominguez to win the $80,850 Busanda Stakes by a neck over La Porta at Aqueduct.

Paint Me Red, a 3-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Red Bullet, was making her first start in New York and for trainer Gary Contessa. Steve Sigler's Winning Move Stable bought a majority interest in Paint Me Red three days before she finished third in the Three Ring Stakes at Calder on Dec. 1 when trained by Bill White.

Paint Me Red's biggest hurdle in the Busanda came early on when Dominguez had to take her outside of D J Lightning, who took a bad step around the clubhouse turn and was pulled up by Rajiv Maragh.

Paint Me Red trailed the remaining field of five until the stretch, when Dominguez spanked her left-handed to come off the rail then right-handed to straighten her out. Once in the clear, Paint Me Red outfinished La Porta as both went by Wonderwho'sbest in midstretch. Paint Me Red covered the mile-and-70-yards in 1:44.06 and returned $8.70 to win.

"We bought her for this race,'' said Contessa, who won the Busanda in 2006 with Daytime Promise and finished two-three-four in it last year. "She has the right running style and we know [Todd] Pletcher doesn't leave his `A' horses here in the winter. This filly can be very good this time of year and maybe onward.''

La Porta, one of three fillies Pletcher ran in the Busanda, finished second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of the Pletcher-trained Sumptuous. Sunday Elegance, the third of Pletcher's runners and the Busanda favorite, finished fifth.