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Rafael Bejarano celebrates aboard Taxed after winning the Black-Eyed Susan
The filly counterpart to the Preakness is the $300,000 George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) held on the Friday before Preakness day. Conditions were typical for mid May with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 70's, the main track fast and the turf firm.
After 3 scratches, a field of 9 three-year-old fillies went to post for this 1 1/8 mile main track contest, with undefeated Faiza sent off as the 3-5 favorite off her Santa Anita Oaks (G2) win. In to challenge her included 6-1 second choice Hoosier Philly, fourth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), and 13-2 third choice Merlazza, winner of the Valley of the Vapors Stakes at Oaklawn.
Down the stretch in the Black-Eyed Susan.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 10 Taxed Bejarano 24.00 8.80 4.00 3 Hoosier Philly Morales 7.80 4.20 9 Faiza Prat 2.20 Winning Time: 1:49.45 $1 Exacta 10-3 94.80 $1 Trifecta 10-3-9 270.70 $1 Superfecta 10-3-9-8 1,484.20 $1 Super Hi-5 10-3-9-8-4 8,308.50
Left: Taxed heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "I had a very good trip. I put her in the position the way that I wanted and went from there. I followed the favorite (Faiza), came to the stretch and let her out. My horse responded really good and she finished really well. She has improved a lot and was better than the last time."
Right: Owner Richard Bahde celebrates with the trophy. Bahde said, "We are very excited to win this race. This is our first visit to Maryland, our first visit to Pimlico, and I want to come back again as soon as possible. The next stake, I want to be here. The folks here at Pimlico have been so gracious and kind, the whole setup. I started out in the bull rings in Nebraska with $5,000 claimers and then I met (trainer Randy Morse) and he took me to a whole different level. We have had a lot of fun together."
Left: Taxed leaves the winner's circle. Bahde added, "(My biggest win) just happened. This is it. I have never won a graded-stakes race before. I am multiple graded stakes-placed, but this is the first win. When she made her move on that turn, I knew we had it won. She loves her job, she loves to run and once she got clear to the outside, it was over. She went past that 3 horse (Hoosier Philly) like she was standing still."
Right: Taxed heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Randy Morse said, "That was pretty special. I tell you. I've been kind of dreaming that she might run that way. She's a real nice-looking filly, and I'd seen her train. Just one of those deals where we got lucky – got her in a shake (when claimed for $50,000). She was just always pulling, too rank. Because every time she ran, she looked like she was going to win, and she just didn't have any finish (so blinkers were removed). As you see now that she's relaxing behind horses and settling. It's made a huge difference."
Left: Taxed walks over before the race. Morse added, "When they headed up the backside, I loved her spot. She was behind horses and clear. I said to myself, 'If you can't do it from here, you don't have any excuse.'. I won the Stephen Foster, that was a Grade 1. Even if it's a claiming race, a win's a win. It's hard to compete with these guys who go in and spend millions of dollars on young horses. I'm not knocking them; I'd like to be in their position. Most of my better horses have been claimed."
Right: Taxed heads out for the post parade. Bejarano added, "For sure. Definitely (better without blinkers). This is the second time she has run without the blinkers, and she improved. It seems like she is more relaxed."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Hoosier Philly returns after the race. Trainer Tom Amoss said, "Edgar (Morales) rode a fabulous race on her. We were able to control the pace. Look, when he turned for home and peeked over his shoulder, I got that feeling that you can't buy. I thought we were going to win. There were a lot of things going through my mind, and they were all positive. Until about the eighth pole. We just had one that was better than us today. I'm happy for Randy Morse. He's a great trainer, and I'm proud that he got to win the race. I maybe had a little egg on my face, proclaiming her (Hoosier Philly) as the best I've trained. I think we're on the road to proving that again."
Third place finisher and beaten favorite Faiza first time by. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "She broke well and was in a good spot. When the running started, she did not have that kick that she usually has. She ran a good race; she just wasn't good enough today. We are still trying to figure her out. (Flavien) Prat said she had the trip. She did everything right but win. It was a good test for her, this being her first time shipping. We are proud of her; at least she was right there. (Taxed and Hoosier Philly) looked good in the paddock; I thought they would run well. We will go home with her and regroup."
The field for the Black-Eyed Susan shortly after the start. Edgar Morales aboard second place finisher Hoosier Philly said, "She broke good. I wasn't planning to be on the lead, but [Merlazza] bumped into me a little and she cruised to the lead. She was running comfortably so I just let her be. She tried hard. She always tries. You can't count those last two races. The Fair Grounds was not the best for her."
The co-feature on Friday is the $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) presented by Bulleit Bourbon. A field of 7 older horses contested this historic 1 3/16 mile trip, with Ben Ali (G3) winner Rattle N Roll sent off as the 11-10 favorite over 2-1 second choice Law Professor, winner of the Excelsior and 9-2 third choice Kuchar, a close second in an allowance at Aqueduct last out.
Jockey Luis Saez sent 7-1 fourth choice Speed Bias to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.56, 47.58, 1:10.77, and 1:35.61 while pressed by 17-1 Keystone Field and stalked by Kuchar. Rattle N Roll, sixth early under Flavien Prat, came out 4 wide into the stretch and rallied to win by a nose in a head bob in 1:54.72. It was a long 4 1/4 lengths back to 14-1 Clapton third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Rattle N Roll in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Ken McPeek said, "Well he's a smart horse. He knows where the running starts and finishes. He doesn't get all worked up early. It compromises his chances sometimes, but he just seems to be getting a little bit better. I think this was another really good spot for him. We've been a little conservative. We tried him against the higher level 3-year-olds last year and he struggled. He ran a couple of fourths. But when we went around and placed him in generous spots he gets it done."
Right: Rattle N Roll gets hosed off after the race. Winning jockey Flavien Prat said, "To be honest, I thought I was going to open up turning for home. But that horse on the inside really dug in. It was a nice battle, and he ran a good race. I thought for a minute I took the lead, and the other one just didn't want to quit. He really put his heart on the track. He was brave today."
Left: Second place finisher Speed Bias in the post parade. Trainer Ron Moquett said, Naked eye, I thought we had won it, but I don't have the angles right here, and I will leave it to the good hands of the judges. I know we ran well. We ran a winning race. I am very proud of him. This is a big race for me. This is one of the races I grew up wanting to win. Watching Mineshaft (2003 winner), watching all those kinds of horses, to be competitive in this kind of race is what we're after. We're not a win percentage group, we're not a go to win at all costs every out, but when you can run well in these kinds of races, that is what makes you get up in the morning. It was a great ride. Everything worked out well but the photo."
Right: Third place finisher Clapton returns after the race. Brian Cohen, stable manager for owner Arindel said, "We were happy with the way he ran. For most of his races he kind of likes to be on the outside. We tried to save ground in the first turn, and he did, and then get to the outside. But Rattle N Roll had that spot. He did his best to make that move on the inside and get through horses. He made a good run and we're happy with him, but Rattle N Roll was the best."
Jockey Florent Geroux sent Interstatedaydream to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.35, 48.93, and 1:12.72 while pressed by Falconet and stalked by 22-1 Misty Veil. In the stretch Interstatedaydream continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:36.82, and held off Misty Veil to win by 1/2 a length in 1:49.32. It was another 1/2 length back to late-running 15-2 fourth choice Le Da Vida third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Interstatedaydream in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, I brought her to Churchill as soon as the Keeneland race was over. Look, she threw up two 59s (five-furlong works) the last couple of weeks. I kind of squeezed on her a little more, maybe that was the difference there late. Obviously, she liked the company, she liked the track, and she got a good trip. There have been a couple of times she's run where she got right there and had to battle back. She never gives up. Even last time at Keeneland, she looked like she was going to be well-beaten, and she stayed on to end up fourth. Yeah, there was some concern there. But Florent obviously knows the filly very well and saved enough there late."
Right: Interstatedaydream heads back to the barn after the race. Winning jockey Florent Geroux said, "She showed a lot of heart today, especially the last furlong. It was very simple. A six-horse field. I was inside. She showed speed. We pretty much knew, depending on the break, whoever broke good was going to make the lead. Irad (Ortiz Jr.) put (Falconet) right next to me. I didn't feel like we were going super-fast. But it was pretty legitimate fractions. It looked like (Misty Veil) took a swing at me. I switched my stick. But when my filly looked at her in the eye, she gave me another gear the last sixteenth of a mile."
Jockey John Velazquez sent Spicy Marg to the lead down the backstretch through fractions of 21.70 and 44.09 while pressed by 6-1 Can the Queen and stalked by Her World and Train to Artemus. In the stretch Spicy Marg continued to lead but Train to Artemus rallied by under Paco Lopez to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 55.81, just 0.51 seconds off the course record. It was a neck back to 13-1 Spun Glass third, while favorite Her World was eased late and finished seventh beaten 5 lengths.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Train to Artemus heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Paco Lopez said, "She was very comfortable today and she broke unbelievable. I was in a little tight at the eighth pole. I had plenty of filly in the stretch. I love this filly. I have ridden her twice and won both times. A very nice filly."
Right: Seventh place finisher and beaten favorite Her World returns after the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "She broke out a little, but nothing bothered her. The last time she ran big on the lead. Today, she was disappointing. I thought she could have run better. We will just have to regroup."
A field of 6 three-year-old fillies sprinted 6 furlongs in the $150,000 Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) presented by Case IH. Beaumont (G2) winner Key of Life was sent off as the 4-5 favorite over 8-5 second choice Maple Leaf Mel, undefeated winner of the East View at Aqueduct, and 9-2 third choice Afternoon Tea off her maiden win at second asking.
Jockey Joel Rosario sent Maple Leaf Mel to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 22.26 and 45.21 while pressed by Key of Life and stalked by Afternoon Tea. Turning for home Maple Leaf Mel opened up a 3 1/2 length lead through 5f in 56.96. 11-1 Topsy, fourth early, rallied but Maple Leaf Mel held her off to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:09.56. It was a long 3 1/2 lengths back to 48-1 longest shot L Street Lady third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Maple Leaf Mel in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jeremiah Englehart said, "I loved the way she was in the paddock. She had really good energy. Melanie (Giddings, assistant) has been telling me she has been doing very well. She's one of those fillies that loves doing what she does. It showed today. I was content with just sitting off (the speed). It worked out great. The way she does it, I always figured she would run with whoever we put her against just because when you ask her to run, she does it. This was going to be her real, true test to show she would handle it. She passed."
Right: Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Key of Life returns after the race. Trainer Brad Cox said, "She got outrun, it looked like to me. The winner was very good; and we didn't run our best race but were no match for the top finishers."
The $100,000 Hilltop Stakes presented by AeroVanti featured a field of 11 three-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the turf. Jockey Jorge Ruiz sent 9-1 After Eight to lead first time by through fractions of 22.70, 46.15, and 1:09.96 while pressed by 7-2 second choice Well Into and stalked by 13-1 Aunt Shirley. In the stretch After Eight tired, as 4-1 third choice Aspray, 8th early under Flavien Prat, came out 6 wide to win by 1/2 a length over 9-5 favorite Breath Away in 1:34.10. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 20-1 Hang the Moon third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Aspray in the winner's circle. The Chad Brown trainee improved her record to a perfect 3 for 3 earning $86,210 for owner-breeder Ran Jan Racing Inc.
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Breath Away in the post parade. The Christophe Clement trainee improved her record to 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 starts, earning $136,640 for owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Steven Rocco, and Tango Uniform Racing.
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