We’ve got a really strong field for this year’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. The all-filly complement to the Preakness Stakes features the top three-year-old female horses in the sport. Abel Tasman won’t have a chance to ride into the winner’s circle this week because Bob Baffert and his team have opted to let her rest this weekend in favor of the Acorn Stakes at Belmont in a few weeks. The last filly to win the Kentucky Oaks and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is Silverbulletday in 1999, who was one of the most decorated fillies in the history of the sport.
We won’t see a back-to-back winner this year, but this is still a very exciting field and a nice appetizer in advance of Saturday’s main course. We’re approaching the 100th anniversary of the first Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, which was known as the Pimlico Oaks from 1919-52 before it changed names. This is technically the 93rd race, as there was no race from 1932-37 and again in 1950.
Somebody other than Dale Romans will get a win this year. Romans has been the winning trainer each of the last two years with Go Maggie Go last year and Keen Pauline in 2015. Todd Pletcher has two fillies in the field as he looks to stand alone as the only trainer with five career wins in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
Post positions have been drawn for the 2017 version of the race and odds have been set. Here they are as of May 17:
Tapa Tapa Tapa
Lights of Medina
None of the participants from the Kentucky Oaks will be in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, which means we have a whole race full of contenders to consider. As you can see, Moana was the morning line odds favorite at 4/1, which speaks to how often this race could be. Any horse with the tandem of John Velazquez and Todd Pletcher deserves instant respect, especially with Pletcher’s reputation in this race. Starting in the seventh position isn’t bad either because the traffic can either settle before Moana makes a move or the filly can make her move to the inside and set the pace.
Moana, another horse from the very busy Uncle Mo, won at Keeneland on April 14 and also finished second in a race earlier this year. Pletcher didn’t have any horses in the Kentucky Oaks, so he’s had his sights set on this race with both of his contenders. The other, Lights of Medina, picked up a win at Laurel Park right in the state of Maryland on April 22. It appears that it’s going to be very hard to grade these horses since there aren’t a ton of polished products in this race.
Summer Luck has to be a strong consideration. Summer Luck has finished on the board in three of her four graded races and ran strong with many of the competitors that were in last week’s Kentucky Oaks. She was third twice at Gulfstream, fourth once at Gulfstream, and then finished fifth at Keeneland in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes behind Sailor’s Valentine, Daddys Lil Darling, and Someday Soon. Her third-place finishes included a strong run in the Davona Dale Stakes, a Grade 2 race at Gulfstream. In both of those races, she was ridden by Florent Geroux, who is solid, but doesn’t have the acumen of a guy like Javier Castellano. At 5/1, the price looks pretty good here.
Another notable horse in this race this weekend is Dancing Rags. The daughter of Union Rags ran to an eighth-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the only one of the horses in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes to participate in one of the Breeders’ Cup filly races. She won the Alcibiades Grade 1 race over Daddys Lil Darling last October, but finished sixth at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes in April. She’s well-rested, though and that could make a big difference.
On the outside, Yorkiepoo Princess has three career wins at Aqueduct and another one at Belmont. She’s been raced a lot more than most of the other contenders, so we do have a bigger body of work on her. When she stepped up in class at the Gazelle Stakes, however, she finished eighth. Full House finished third in that race and had a pretty strong run behind Miss Sky Warrior and Lockdown.
It looks like there are several horses that *could* win the race, but Moana and Summer Luck appear to stand out above the field, with Full House possibly working her way up onto the board.
-END OF 2017 PREVIEW-
Before the main event, the Preakness Stakes, at Pimlico Race Course this weekend, the fillies get their time to shine. Much like the schedule for the weekend at Churchill Downs, Friday night’s schedule includes a feature race for the female horses. The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is Pimlico’s answer to the Kentucky Oaks, which was a very exciting race a couple weeks ago. Some of the three-year-old fillies that run in the Black-Eyed Susan or the Oaks may find themselves in the Belmont coming up in early June, so it’s important to keep track of all of these horses.
This Grade II race of 1 1/8 miles will hand out a purse of $500,000. This is part of the unofficial “Filly Triple Crown”, which also includes the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park. For the 18th straight year, a different filly will win the Kentucky Oaks and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. The last horse to win both was Silverbulletday back in 1999. Cathryn Sophia won the Kentucky Oaks and will not be racing here at Pimlico.
Two horses from the Oaks are in this field and are the ones getting the most betting attention so far. Here are the entrants for the 92nd edition of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes:
A P Majetstic
Land Over Sea
Ma Can Do It
Go Maggie Go
She’s a Warrior
Midnight on Oconee
In the Navy Now
Mom’s On Strike
There are a couple of important things to consider about this race. The Kentucky Oaks was a Grade I race and this is a Grade II, so that’s a big reason why Land Over Sea, one of the two holdovers from the Oaks, is listed as the 2/1 favorite. The same can be said of Go Maggie Go, who finished fourth in the Oaks. The other is that it can sometimes be difficult for these fillies to make the quick transition since a lot more care is taken with their race schedule.
Land Over Sea is one of the fillies somewhat accustomed to quick turnarounds. It’s clear that Doug O’Neill had intentions all along of getting her right back into the Black-Eyed Susan because she has run with short rest before. She finished second at Los Alamitos last July and then won just 17 days later at Del Mar. Also, during the Road to the Kentucky Oaks circuit, she was second on March 5 at Santa Anita and then won on March 26 in the Fair Grounds Oaks with excellent times in both of those races. She has four wins this season and has the highest ratings across the board of any horse in the field. Except for a seventh in a stacked field at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Halloween, she’s been third or better in every race.
Go Maggie Go has a shot at being the next big winner in this event for Dale Romans. Romans was a winner last year in this event with Keen Pauline. It was his first win in this event. This could be a difficult spot for her, however. Romans was uncertain if he would take this filly with him to Baltimore, especially because she only has three legitimate races on her resume so far this season. She won the Gulfstream Park Oaks, holding off Kentucky Oaks challenger Paola Queen, but that was well over a month prior to the Kentucky Oaks.
There’s a reason that Kinsley Kisses has snuck in amongst the favorites here this week. Todd Pletcher has four career wins in this race, with the most recent coming back in 2014 with Stopchargingmaria. With Velazquez as the jockey, Pletcher scored a win in 2012 with In Lingerie. His other winners came on Panty Raid in 2007 and Spun Sugar in 2005. Velazquez has been his jockey for three of the four wins. This particular filly was third at the Beaumont Stakes, a Grade III race last month. The Pletcher/Velazquez combination has had so much success here that handicappers are buying in.
She’s A Warrior is also listed in that 6/1 range. She finished third at the Santa Anita Oaks, behind Songbird and Mokat. Mokat finished 13th in the Kentucky Oaks. She’s A Warrior finished third behind Songbird and Land Over Sea at the Las Virgenes Stakes back in February. Overall, the results haven’t been great, but there’s some hope because of the competition that she has faced in past races.
A dark horse, pardon the pun, this week could be Dothraki Queen. Coming from the #2 post, this filly is going off at 15/1 in midweek betting. Dothraki Queen was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile back on Halloween. Songbird won and she hasn’t been able to compete in any of these races so far. Rachel’s Valentina was second, but she struggled to a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. Dothraki Queen finished ahead of Land Over Sea and Ma Can Do It in that race, so there is some potential here for this filly to move to the front of the pack.
NBC Sports Network will have coverage of this race on Friday May 21, with a post time of 4:50 p.m. ET.
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