BALTIMORE, Md. – We’re ready to kickoff a great weekend at Old Hilltop which will culminate in the Preakness Stakes late Saturday afternoon. On tap Friday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course is the 1 1/8-mile $500,000 Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan. Friday’s card will also includes three Grade 3 races, the Miss Preakness, the DuPont Distaff and the Pimlico Special, in addition to three other non-graded stakes races.
The 93rd running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes features a field of 11 fillies trying to step up within the 3-year-old filly division. The race did not attract any fillies that ran in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago at Churchill Downs.
This year’s race will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network (3 p.m.) in a two-hour telecast as part of NBC’s weekend coverage of the Preakness Stakes.
Let’s take a look at the field for the Grade 3 Black-Eyed Susan (trainer, jockey, odds in parenthesis):
Race 11 – Post Time: Friday, 4:50 p.m. – 1 1/8-miles (dirt) -- $500,000 Grade 3 Black-Eyed Susan
1 – Shimmering Again (R Jenkins, Hamilton, 9-2) – The daughter of Malibu Moon comes out of an impressive local optional claimer at Laurel, winning by seven lengths. She’s won three in a row and stretches out to go two turns for the first time in the BES. While fast, she lacks in class and in experience at two turns, which gets the nay vote from this corner.
2 – Tapa Tapa Tapa (Hamm, Castanon, 8-1) – She faded in a very competitive Honey Bee (Grade 3), the second-place finisher came back to win a big race at Churchill on Derby weekend. The daughter of Tapit could be around to catch a piece if she improves off her last. Contender.
3 – Dancing Rags (Motion, McCarthy, 8-1) – Well bred daughter of Union Rags posted a bullet on May 12 at Fair Hill. Her speed numbers are lacking in comparison to the competition, but a change to a high percentage jockey and the possibility that the light comes on while returning to a route race is high.
4 – Full House (Jerkens, Maragh, 12-1) – Hasn’t missed the board in five tries, but only a maiden win at Aqueduct resulted in a trip to the winner’s circle. She was beaten badly in her only graded stakes appearance. Hung tough two back against the outside horse in the Busher. Looks to be more of a miler than 9-furlong filly (by Discreetly Mine), so will be passing on this one.
5 – Lights of Medina (Pletcher, Lynch, 8-1) – Posted the biggest speed figure in the race3 in her last at Laurel on a sloppy track. Pletcher looks like he has her cranked for this one, with a bullet work on May 11. Daughter of Eskendereya is coming in third off the layoff where TAP is 25 percent for the year. Dangerous.
6 – Corporate Queen (Casse, Rosario, 15-1) – Team Casse puts forth the fifth-place finisher from the Fair Grounds Oaks in her first effort around two turns. The Colonel John filly had a solid work on May 12 but may be up against it going long against this group.
7 – Moana (Pletcher, Velazquez, 4-1) – You have to pay attention to the fact that Johnny V made this filly his first call over Lights of Medina. She broke her maiden at Keeneland last out and the daughter of Uncle Mo out of a More Than Ready mare should be able to handle the distance. Logical.
8 – Torrent (Moquett, Ortiz, 15-1) – Daughter of Blaze will try two turns for the second time after struggling to fifth against a fine Fantasy field at Oaklawn Park. She gets a big time rider in Jose Ortiz and should fare better than her last outing. Possible exotics player.
9 – Summer Luck (Casse, Castellano, 5-1) – Castellano has won two of the last three Susans and has another top contender for Team Casse. Daughter of former Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky was on the outside looking in at the Kentucky Oaks, just missing qualification. Castellano rode her twice at Gulfstream and she’s looked good in the morning at Churchill Downs.
10 – Actress (Servis, Juarez, 12-1) – Lightly raced Tapit filly is still a maiden, finishing second in her only two starts. She fared well in a non-graded stake at Gulfstream to prove she belongs with this company. These are deeper waters, but wouldn’t be surprised if she brings a strong effort.
11 – Yorkiepoo Princess (Barker, Karamanos, 10-1) – After three straight big wins at the Big A, the daughter of Kantharos didn’t have it in the Grade 2 Gazelle in her attempt to qualify for the Oaks. She will look to rebound, adding lasix for the first time in the Susan and return to her winning ways. She has an off track win at Belmont, should the track come up sloppy. Using if it comes up wet.
Looking at a Pletcher exacta; mixing in some higher priced horses underneath.
Post Time Outlook – 1 –Lights of Medina; 2 –Moana; 3 –Tapa Tapa Tapa; 4 – Yorkiepoo Princess
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.