Keen Pauline took them all for a stroll around Old Hilltop this afternoon to win the 91st running of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. The daughter of Pulpit used moderate fractions to take the early lead and went gate-to-wire in upsetting the feature race on the Friday card at odds of 15-1.
Jockey Javier Castellano judged it perfectly in taking the filly around the Pimlico Race Course oval in 1.50.46. She took advantage of pedestrian fractions of 24.3 and 49.1 to hold off Post Time selection Include Betty by 2 3/4 lengths for trainer Dale Romans. She returned $32.80 to her backers for the win, $10.80 to place and $5.80 for the show.
Keen Pauline is owned by Stonestreet Stables and trained by Dale Romans. She broke from the outside No. 9 post and went straight to the lead and never looked back. Assistant trainer Tammy Fox couldn't stop blushing about Castellano's ride on the filly.
"What more can you say? You have the best of the best on the horse. He knew how fast he was going. When you see a horse's ears just pricked like that and he's sitting. He did a great job on her," said Fox.
Castellano was surprised he got away with the lead so easily. "You have to take advantage when anything happens in a race. I didn't expect to be on the lead. I saw a lot of speed in the race. My horse broke so well out of the gate I dictated the pace and enjoyed the ride."
Include Betty paid $5.40 for the placing and $3.40 to show. She was 13 lengths behind at the first call and had no chance to catch the winner with her closing style. She made a valiant try to get to her but ran out of racetrack after buzzing by a number of fillies.
Jockey Drayden Van Dyke knew Include Betty was doomed due to the pace in front of her. "With that pace, she really ran huge. That’s her style, she likes to come from out of it. "She’s out there just enjoying herself," said Van Dyke. When you ask her to run, she really runs. It’s better to stay clear, not get her stopped and give her all the run that she's got," the young jockey said.
He was happy regardless of the result with his filly's efforts. "I know how big of a run that she has. I was just hoping there was going to be some kind of pace up front. If they ran 1-2 seconds faster, I think we would have got there."
Lightly raced third-place finisher Ahh Chocolate, also a closer, made her move earlier than Include Betty, but also came from 10 lengths back to hold on for the show ($4.40). It was her first graded stakes race in three career starts and pleased trainer Neil Howard.
"For a filly so lightly raced, I thought it was good," said Howard. "That was only her third start and there was a lot of nice fillies in that race. We are going to treat this as a race to stay on the same path with her. The Mother Goose is a possibility," said Howard.
The daughter of Candy Ride will be one to watch as she starts to mature on the 3-year-old filly campaign. She proved that she can hold her own against some top-flight competition.
The 4-3 favorite Luminance finished fifth for trainer Bob Baffert, gave way in upper stretch adding to an already disappointing Black-Eyed Susan day for the Hall of Fame trainer. He was not very happy with jockey Martin Garcia after the race.
"I told Martin, 'You just took her best weapon away from her.' She needed the lead. She couldn't get it, so after that she wasn't effective at all. We would have preferred to be on the lead," said Baffert.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association and tweets @EquiSpace.