Just when you think nothing can surprise you in this game, you find out otherwise. Not a big deal, I suppose, but never thought I’d see a six horse field with three uncoupled entrant from one barn.

But Mr. Pletcher will start half the field in the six-filly Busanda for three-year-olds going a mile and 70 yards on the winter track. Pletcher has himself to beat--and Gary Contessa, too. The three major contenders are Sunday Elegance (3-1), Paint Me Red (5-2) and La Porta (4-1).

Sunday Elegance attracts the hottest rider on the grounds this week; Stewart Elliott. When last seen, Sunday Elegance was showing improved early speed after encountering trouble on the first turn when ambitiously placed in the Grade 2 Demoiselle. Seven weeks freshening, a drop in class, the pole at this distance and Elliott makes her quite formidable here. By definition, she is the fastest filly on performance figures, albeit over a muddy Monmouth surface.

Paint Me Red is up from South Florida making her first start for the Contessa barn. She was competitive with some salty Calder fillies as a two-year-old and Contessa has had six weeks to figure her out. She’s never run a bad race and looks well spotted in her local debut. An inside post and Ramon Dominguez doesn’t hurt.

La Porta, like Sunday Elegance, hails from the Pletcher shed and she’s developing very nicely. She showed improved speed with good energy distance while earning a good figure in her second start then showed improved stamina in her two turn debut while breaking her maiden over this surface after setting a slow pace. She showed some class on that occasion but has to deal with both mates, including a value laden Sumptuous (8-1). Mike Luzzi replaces Johnny Velazquez.

Still, we must take Sunday Elegance off the class relief and freshening at 2-1 or greater, and key her first and second in trifectas with three principal contenders listed here.

Running Totals: (162) 59-34-18. Total Dollar Return: $371.40 [win selections only]