01/11/2008 12:00AM

Pletcher runs trio in Busanda


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - For the second straight year a trainer is running three horses in the $75,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct. Todd Pletcher hopes he can improve upon Gary Contessa's 2-3-4 finish a year ago.

Pletcher will send out the uncoupled trio of Sunday Elegance, La Porta, and Sumptuous in the mile-and-70-yard Busanda against D J Lightning, Paint Me Red, and Wonderwho'sbest.

All Pletcher's runners have done is win maiden races, but Sunday Elegance is dropping out of the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes, where she was headstrong early, then made a huge move to be within a half-length of the lead at the quarter pole before fading to fourth, 18 1/2 lengths behind race winner Mushka.

"It was a good learning experience for her because she did rate well, but she made a middle move because of her aggressiveness that caused her to flatten out the last part of it," said assistant trainer Seth Benzel. "She's been training very well."

Sunday Elegance, a front-running maiden winner at Monmouth, will break from the rail under Stewart Elliott.

La Porta was a front-running maiden winner in a two-turn mile race here on Dec. 9. After dueling with longshot Fiery Inferno, La Porta showed great determination fending off a stretch challenge from Rough Water to win by a head.

"We always liked the filly, thought she had a lot of ability," Benzel said. "We were happy the last time the way things unfolded. This start I don't think we'll be as obligated to going up and getting the lead again. We'll put her in a comfortable rating position and see where she goes from there.''

Mike Luzzi rides La Porta from post 5.

Sumptuous comes off a subpar race in the slop, when she was a nonthreatening second to repeat winner Vaulcluse in a first-level allowance race. Norberto Arroyo rides Sumptuous from post 4.

D J Lightning stretches out around two turns for the first time after making her first three starts sprinting. She is the lone stakes winner in the field, having taken the Prom Stakes at the Meadowlands.

"She's pretty tractable, has speed if you want to use it," trainer Rick Violette said. "I think she's dangerous."

Wonderwho'sbest will be switched from the turf to the dirt by trainer Bruce Levine, who claimed her for $50,000 three starts back.

"It's a question of whether she dirts," Levine said. "She's probably fastest off her grass races."

Paint Me Red makes her first start here since being purchased privately by Steve Sigler's Winning Move Stable.