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Joel Rosario returns aboard Army Wife after winning the Black-Eyed Susan
The filly counterpart to the Preakness is the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) held on the Friday before Preakness day. Conditions were excellent with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70's, the main track fast and the turf firm, however due to coronavirus restrictions, attendance was limited to just 10,000. Total handle on Friday's 14-race Black-Eyed Susan program was $27,675 million, surpassing the previous record of $20.349 million set in 2019, the year the previous attendance record of 50,339 was set. Craig Fravel, CEO of 1/ST Racing said, "We're pleased Black-Eyed Susan Day produced some fantastic racing by some extraordinary horses, and it was nice to see people at the track having a fantastic time. We want to thank the horsemen for supporting this day of racing and our racing office that did such a great job putting the program together. We're looking forward to Saturday and Preakness 146."
A field of 10 three-year-old fillies went to post for this 1 1/8 mile main track contest, with Santa Ysabel (G3) winner Beautiful Gift sent off as the 2-1 favorite off her close second in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2). In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice Adventuring, winner of the Bourbonnete Oaks, and 9-2 third choice Army Wife, third in the Gazelle (G3).
Down the stretch in the Black-Eyed Susan.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Army Wife Rosario 7.80 4.60 3.20 2 Willful Woman Santana Jr. 7.80 5.00 5 Lady Traveler Castellano 3.80 Winning Time: 1:49.63 $1 Exacta 1-2 63.70 $1 Trifecta 1-2-5 591.30 $1 Superfecta 1-2-5-4 4,971.40 $1 Super High Five 1-2-5-4-7 32,685.70
Left: Army Wife in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mike Maker said, "I liked her chances. The rail seemed like the spot to be today, and we finally got a good trip out of her. I thought last time it was a last-minute decision [to run in the April 3 Gazelle at Aqueduct]. Not everything was ideal. She got in trouble, shuffled back and she came on again [to finish third], which I thought was very game. We opted not to enter her in the [Kentucky] Oaks and point for this."
Right: Trainer Mike Maker and jockey Joel Rosario celebrate with the trophies. Rosario said, "They looked like they had a good pace in the beginning. I thought was going to be forwardly placed, but the way they were moving, I was a little farther back."
Left: Army Wife heads out to the track before the race. Maker added, "This was a break-out race, third start off the layoff. I thought her last race was huge, too. She did so well on the dirt (after three turf defeats) that we just kept her there."
Right: Army Wife returns after the race. Rosario added, "It was a decision that I had to make because they were coming back a little bit in front of me and I had horse. I decided I needed to go because I had some room to go and just let her run her race like she always does."
Left: Army Wife heads back to the barn after the race.
Right: Second place finisher Willful Woman heads out to the race before the race. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "She ran a good race. I wish she hadn't gotten into a little trouble around the turn...it is what it is."
Left: Third place finisher Lady Traveler returns after the race. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "I am really happy the way she did it today. Dale Romans told me before the race that she was really training good. He said if she broke out of the gate, get your position and take it from there. She broke so well out of the gate and I liked the way she did it. She was in a nice, comfortable rhythm. Even turning for home, I thought I was going to win the race. She was never tired. I am proud of the way she did it. She hung in there all the way. I am not disappointed at all with her race."
Right: Seventh place finisher and beaten favorite Beautiful Gift walks over before the race. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "Obviously we are disappointed. We thought she would run a little better than that. Johnny [Velazquez] said that when he needed horse he just didn't have it. We'll wrap things up and probably head back to California with her."
Left: The field for the Black-Eyed Susan shortly after the start.
Right: The sparse crowd on the apron due to corona virus restrictions.
The co-feature on Friday is the $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3). A field of 10 older horses contested this historic 1 3/16 mile trip, with Oaklawn Handicap (G2) runner-up Fearless sent off as the 11-10 favorite over 5-1 second choice Last Judgment, 5th in the Ghostzapper (G3), and 6-1 third choice Modernist, winner of the Excelsior (G3).
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Last Judgment to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.83, 47.60, and 1:11.54 while pressed by 30-1 Treasure Trove and stalked by 33-1 Cordmaker and Modenist. Turning for home, Last Judgment opened up 3 1/2 length lead through 1 mile in 1:35.62. Kept to task by Ortiz, Last Judgment cruised the rest of the way to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Modernist in 1:54.37. It was a neck back to late-running favorite Fearless third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Last Judgment returns after the race. Winning trainer Mike Maker said, "He's run well for us going a mile and an eighth. I was glad to stretch him out and hoped to get a softer pace going longer. I was a little concerned about the outside post, but he doesn't care for the dirt in his face, so he was going to be in the clear anyway. If someone was hell-bent on the lead, so be it. To be honest, I've never really thought about anything further than today. But with a nice horse, you always have a lot of options."
Right: Last Judgment heads to the track before the race. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "I thought I was going to get [to the lead], but I knew that if somebody else wanted to get there, I could sit off him, too. It was not like the last time, I cooked in front in 46 [seconds] and that cost me the race for sure. I had a good position. I knew that if he broke well from the gate I could get to the lead nicely. Or if he didn't break well I could sit second. But he broke really good."
Left: Second place finisher Modernist heads to the track before the race. Jockey Junior Alvarado said, "I had a beautiful trip. The horse that won the race was the only one with the speed, and I was tracking behind him the whole way. Turning for home, I took my shot at it, but that horse in front just kept going. I was in a beautiful spot. If I had to do it 100 times, I would have picked the same spot I was in. I was traveling very beautifully. The horse in front got away with a nice pace and he kept going."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Fearless in the post parade. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "On the backside, I knew [Last Judgment] was in control, so I started letting my horse pick it up. He made a long run. It was hard to get there. On the backside, [Last Judgment] was running comfortable. I knew he was going to be hard to catch, so I started moving. It was a long run." Trainer Todd Pletcher added, "He got shuffled back a bit. He tried to move him outside into the clear, but it's tough when there's no pace to try to close much ground. I thought he put in a long sustained run. They just didn't come back."
Jockey Florent Geroux sent 10-1 Dreamalildreamofu to the front first time by through fractions of 23.54 and 47.62 while pressed by Spice is Nice and stalked by 84-1 longest shot Landing Zone. On the far turn Spice is Nice swept to the lead through 3/4 in 1:11.15 and 1 mile in 1:35.93. Kept to task by John Velazquez, Spice is Nice drew off late to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Dreamalildreamofu in 1:48.71. It was another 2 lengths back to 7-1 Getridofwhatailsu third, and 1 length more to favorite Horologist fourth.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Spice is Nice in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "She's a filly we've always thought a lot of. I trained her mother. She's a big strong filly that took a little time to get it all together. After the Alabama last year, she just lost some weight and we needed to regroup and gave her some time off. It seems like it has paid dividends. She's come back, put on some weight. We had a perfect prep race back and felt like this was good timing and knew she would handle the mile and an eighth. When she came by the wire the first time I was very happy. We weren't exactly sure who all was going to show some speed. Our main focus was just getting her away in good order and getting her into a good rhythm. When she does that she's very effective."
Right: Spice is Nice returns after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, “She’s not used to being that close and then on the lead. She was waiting for the competition to come to her. So she kind of fooled with the horse inside of her, but she was waiting.”
Left: Caravel returns after the race. Winning trainer Elizabeth Merryman said, "In my head all day, I could just see her winning the race. And yet, in the stretch, I thought, ‘Well, it's not going to happen. Not today.' And it did. I thought all the way to the wire that she wasn't getting there because there was just no room for her to run. I don't know how she got through. It was a miraculous run. I grew up in Maryland about 15 miles north of here on a farm. My father bred horses and he decided that the best, most honest way to get a good trainer was to breed his trainers as well as his horses."
Right: Caravel heads back to the barn. WInning jockey Florent Geroux said, "I was just hoping for an opening sooner rather than later. It looked like we got it just in time. I was full of horse and just couldn't get out when I wanted to. When she saw the split about the eighth pole, she dug in for me and made the difference. It was all her. I'm very proud of her. Thanks to the connections. They have a nice filly. I thought I might have it the last jump. But sometimes it doesn't go your way. At the finish line she had her head down, and I was hoping to get the win."
A field of 8 three-year-old fillies sprinted 6 furlongs in the $150,000 Miss Preakness Stakes (G3). Allowance winner Red Ghost was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 7-2 second choice Joyful Cadence, second in the Purple Martin last out, and 15-4 third choice Abrogate, 5th in the Eight Belles (G2). Jockey John Velazquez sent Red Ghost to the front out of the chute through fractions of 22.88 and 45.80 while pressed by 7-1 Euphoric and stalked by Joyful Cadence. Turning for home, Euphoric took over the lead through 5f in 57.78 but Red Ghost fought back on the inside to win by a nose in 1:10.53. It was a head back to Joyful Cadence third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Red Ghost in the winner's circle. David Flores, assistant to winning trainer Wesley Ward said, "John [Velazquez] said she was backing up a little bit when the horses went by her. When he got after her she looked like she was not done. He felt like he had horse. She is very competitive and she was able to make a comeback."
Right: Red Ghost heads out to the track before the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "She got passed, almost a length. She was looking to the inside and the other horses passed her. She didn't even care. She kept looking to the inside and leaning out and I got after her. I got after her at the three-sixteenths pole and she came back."
The $100,000 Hilltop Stakes featured a field of 11 three-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the turf. Jockey Charlie Marquez sent 73-1 longest shot Proper Attire to the front first time by through fractions of 23.34 and 47.00 while pressed by 38-1 Serenade a Kitten and stalked by 5-1 Tracy Flick and 7-1 Phantom Vision. Turning for home, 15-2 Alda, 5th early under John Velazquez, came out 5 wide to sweep to the front through 7f in 1:23.57. 13-2 Seasons, 10th early after stumbling at the break, put in a strong late rally but Alda held her off to win by a neck in 1:35.06. It was a nose back to 12-1 Arm Candy third, while 8-5 favorite Bubbles on Ice checked in 5th beaten 2 1/2 lengths.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Alda in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Graham Motion said, "[Jockey John Velazquez] had plenty of horse. We liked her last year. She came really close in the Grade 1 in Canada [second in Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, Sept. 20]. I probably misjudged her a little bit by sprinting her the last time. I thought we could get away with it. It obviously set her up well for today. I think this is what she wants to do. How hot is Johnny today? He's on fire."
Right: Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Bubbles on Ice in the post parade.
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