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Belmont Stakes Contenders
Black-Eyed Susan Day
Co-owners Shirl Penney and David Cassidy (right) and trainer Gary Contessa (left) lead Sweet Vendetta to the winner's circle after the Black-Eyed Susan
The $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) is the distaff counterpart to the Preakness, and was run on the Friday of Preakness weekend before a crowd of 18,407 which braved constantly changing weather with intermittent showers. A field of 8 three-year-old fillies went to the gate in this 1 1/8 mile main track feature, with Kentucky Oaks 5th place finisher Bsharpsonata sent off as the 5-2 favorite over 3-1 second choice Seattle Smooth, winner of the Bay Meadows Oaks last time out. Shes All Eltish, fourth in the Calder Oaks in her last start, was the 7-2 third choice on the board.
Sweet Vendetta (outside) starts to pass Shes All Eltish in the stretch.
6-1 Sherine was allowed an uncontested lead of as many as three lengths through fractions of 23.65, 47.62, and 1:12.17 with entrymate Pious Ashley in second. Entering the stretch, the strategy failed as both faded from contention. Shes All Eltish, who settled in 5th early out wide the whole way, took over the lead at the 3/16 pole and quickly opened up a 2 1/2 length advantage on 8-1 Sweet Vendetta, who had raced back in 6th down the backstretch. Jockey Channing Hill asked Sweet Vendetta for run and got it, as she powered by Shes All Eltish at the 1/16 pole and drew off to a 1 1/2 length win in 1:49.60 over the muddy, sealed main track. It was just 3/4 length back to late-running Seattle Smooth third, while favorite Bsharpsonata raced within 4 lengths of the pace for the first half mile then tired badly late to finish last beaten 23 lengths.
Also check out the results for the co-feature, Pimlico Special (G1), won by Student Council.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Sweet Vendetta Hill 17.40 8.40 5.20 8 Shes All Eltish Gomez 4.60 3.40 6 Seattle Smooth Prado 3.40 Winning Time: 1:49.60 $2 Exacta 2-8 85.80 $2 Trifecta 2-8-6 514.20 $1 Superfecta 2-8-6-4 904.70
Right: The trophy presentation. Co-owners Shirl Penney, David Cassidy, and trainer Gary Contessa are the three on the right. Contessa said, "I loved the 1 1/8 miles for her. She was training up a storm. I know she's a natural at this distance. She's almost 17 hands and has that big loping stride. I thought this was a good fit here. When the heavens opened up last night that added more icing to the cake. We know she loves the mud, as well. This is what we'd envisioned. This race, and maybe on to the Alabama."
Left: Sweet Vendetta in the post parade. Winning jockey Channing Hill said, "What a tremendous filly. She broke great. The race unfolded exactly the way I figured it was going to. I figured I was going to be a little more off the pace than I was in her previous race. I think she's enough filly to handle anything. It ranks up there. I was fortunate enough to win the Barbara Fritchie this year. This is equal to that."
Right: Sweet Vendetta heads back to the barn with her new winner's blanket.
Co-owner and breeder of Sweet Vendetta David Cassidy (center) with jockey Channing Hill and his father Alan Hill (left) pose after the race. Cassidy pointed out after the race that Hillís father also won the Black-Eyed Susan aboard My Juliet in 1975. Cassidy also said, "This is probably the best filly the mare (Sand Pirate) has had. Unfortunately I sold the mare, but I do own a half sister. With Sweet Vendetta I always believed she'd be a good three-year-old. And honestly, as a breeder, this is one of my greatest thrills."
Second place finisher Shes All Eltish returns after the race. Her trainer Martin Wolfson said, "Garrett rode her perfectly. She's done this to me three or four times where she opens up and kind of loses focus. She opened up at Gulfstream and then lost by a head. It doesn't take much of anything to distract her."
Her jockey Garrett Gomez said, "My horse was running fine, but when we came around the turn, she saw the starting gate and turned in away from it. I lost her attention span for a little ways, but at the 1/8 pole she went ahead and started running again for me. She lost focus on what she was doing and I'm pretty sure she would have kicked on and run a little harder for me. Once she lost focus, it took me a little while to get her back in stride."
Third place finisher Seattle Smooth in the post parade. Her groom Jurado Obdulio said, "We really liked this filly. Today she was just too far behind. We were hoping to be 4 or 5 lengths behind down the backstretch. But that wasn't the case. The winning filly moved faster in the stretch and we couldn't catch her."
Her jockey Edgar Prado said, "My horse didn't break sharp, so I bided my time and when I turned her loose, she really came running at the end."
Last place finisher and beaten favorite Bsharpsonata crosses the finish line. Her trainer Tim Salzman said, "We've got no excuse." Jockey Eric Camacho added, "It just wasn't her day today. It just wasn't her day."
There are 3 other stakes races on the undercard of the Pimlico Special and Black-Eyed Susan. The $100,000 Adena Stallions Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) features 3-year-old fillies sprinting 6 furlongs. 1-2 favorite Palanka City did not disappoint, stalking the pace set by 3-1 second choice Casanova Killer of 22.93 and 46.16 over the muddy track, then taking over the lead inside the 3/16 pole and powering away late to win by 5 1/2 lengths in 1:10.90. It was another 4 3/4 lengths back to 9-2 third choice Beau's Valentine in third.
Full results chart from DRF
Palanka City in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Terry Gestes said, "I figured she'd be bet down. I was just hoping she would handle the track. She was a little nervous today. I don't know if it was the rain of the weather. Turning for home, I said, ĎUh-oh. I hope she re-breaks.' And she did when he hit her."
Winning jockey Chris Emigh said, "She was a little nervous in the paddock. Our horse broke great and was very relaxed. Into the far turn, (Casanova Killer) squirted away. My horse responded well. I hit her once, and she let loose another gear around the turn and finished up strong."
The $75,000 Woodlawn Stakes was originally scheduled for 1 mile on the turf but was switched to 1 1/16 miles on the muddy main track. 9-2 fourth choice Termsofengagement raced at the back of the field for the first 3/4 mile, well off the pace set by 2-1 second choice M J's Enchanteur of 22.94,46.21, and 1:11.54. Through the stretch, Termsofengagement closed with a rush to pass the tiring pacesetter inside the final furlong to win going away by 2 lengths in 1:45.64. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to 9-5 favorite Malibu Kid in third.
Full results chart from DRF
Termsofengagement in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Nancy Alberts (far left) said, "The owners sent him here from Charles Town, because they said, 'We think he's a better horse.' We wanted it moved off the turf. We didn't want to run on soft turf. We thought we'd have a better chance on dirt. He certainly showed he likes mud. This horse has just blossomed."
Winning jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "This horse likes to relax early and run for the money at the end when it counts. Nancy has done a great job with him. Thanks to that, I was able to ride with confidence."
The $75,000 The Very One Stakes for older fillies and mares was originally scheduled as a 5 furlong turf sprint but was moved to the main track. 5-2 second choice All Giving saved ground in third just off the pace, then when asked by jockey Erick Rodriguez, ran right by 3-1 third choice Cat On A Cloud at the 3/16 pole and drew away in the lane to win by 5 lengths in 57.46 seconds. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to 11-10 favorite Smart and Fancy third.
Full results chart from DRF
All Giving in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Flint Stites (right) said, "She just loves an off track, that's for sure. Now, all I have to do is decide whether to keep her on dirt or go back to the turf. But there is no doubt she's a sprinter."
Winning jockey Erick Rodriguez said, "I was waiting behind horses to see what would open up. The horse in front of me came out. That opened up the rail. I had a lot of horse left. She was real good."
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