Submitted by Jerry Antonucci on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Black-Eyed Susan attracts wide-open field of 11
The matter of who might be worthy of challenging Untapable at some point in the near future could gain some credence Friday, when 11 well-matched 3-year-old fillies clash in the Grade 2, $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on a terrific Preakness Eve undercard at Pimlico.
Todd Pletcher, who sent out My Miss Sophia to finish second behind the highly impressive Untapable two Fridays ago in the Kentucky Oaks, has a couple of major threats in the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan in Stopchargingmaria (post 4, Javier Castellano, 7-2) and Sloane Square (post 8, Joel Rosario, 5-1).
“We’re kind of coming at this from two different angles,” said Pletcher, who has three wins in this race to his credit with Spun Sugar (2005), Panty Raid (2007), and In Lingerie (2012).
Stopchargingmaria “is a filly we’re trying to get back in form,” Pletcher said. “We feel like the way she’s training, that she’s indicated she can get back to the way she ran in the Tempted and Demoiselle last year.”
Stopchargingmaria won both of those graded races last fall before beginning her 3-year-old season with a fifth in the Feb. 22 Davona Dale Stakes and a fourth in the April 5 Fantasy Stakes.
“I thought her second start was an improvement over her first, but obviously, we’d like her to take it to the next level in this third time back,” Pletcher said.
As for Sloane Square, most recently second as the favorite in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks, “she’s a hard-trying filly who’s run well every time,” he said. “We might be stepping out in distance a bit, but we see this as an opportunity to hopefully get some graded black type with her.”
From the barn of Steve Asmussen, who trains Untapable, comes a serious challenger to the Pletcher fillies: Euphrosyne, who will break from post 5 with Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard. Euphrosyne has been steady throughout a seven-race career and is coming off a third-place finish in the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park.
Among the fringe players in the Black-Eyed Susan are Joint Return (post 1, Kendrick Carmouche), from the barn of John Servis, of Smarty Jones fame; America (post 2, John Velazquez), a one-time winner from the stable of Hall of Famer Bill Mott; Shanon Nicole (post 3, Mike Smith), who came to hand over the winter when switched to dirt at Fair Grounds; Arethusa (post 6, Rosie Napravnik), a late closer with a minor stakes win to her credit; and Fortune Pearl (post 9, Trevor McCarthy), whose recent allowance victory over the Pimlico main track marked a breakthrough of sorts.
Rounding out the field are La Mejor Fiesta (post 7, Victor Espinoza), Vero Amore (post 10, Frank Pennington), and Image of Anna (post 11, Luis Saez).
The 90th Black-Eyed Susan is the richest of seven stakes to be run here Friday. First post is noon Eastern, with the Black-Eyed Susan, the 10th of 13 races, set for 4:47 p.m. The other Friday feature, the Grade 3 Pimlico Special, follows as race 12. A very eventful day also includes the annual Lady Legends event (race 3) and a four-race Hall of Fame jockey point series.
First run in 1919, the Black-Eyed Susan has been won by such standouts as Nellie Morse (1924), Gallorette (1945), Davona Dale (1979), Silverbulletday (1999), and Royal Delta (2011). The 2013 winner was Fiftyshadesofhay, with Joel Rosario riding for Bob Baffert.