PIMLICO - The 94th running of the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies highlights a 14-race program that includes seven stakes, four graded, worth $1.15 million in purses on the eve of the 143rd Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Trainer Dale Romans, who has enjoyed considerable success through the years at legendary Pimlico Race Course, will send out a pair of talented stakes winners on Friday as he goes in search of his third victory in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2).
2018 Black-Eyed Susan Odds & Entries
Race 11 on Pimlico's Friday card with a Post Time of 4:48 PM
|1||Tell Your Mama||20-1||Javier Castellano||Robert Hess, Jr.|
|2||Midnight Disguise||4-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Linda Rice|
|3||Coach Rocks||7-2||Luis Saez||Dale Romans|
|4||Red Ruby||5-1||Paco Lopez||Kellyn Gorder|
|5||Mihrab||30-1||Jevian Toledo||H. Motion|
|6||C. S. Incharge||15-1||Julien Leparoux||Dale Romans|
|7||Goodonehoney||5-1||Steve Hamilton||Jason Egan|
|8||Indy Union||10-1||Jose Ortiz||Jeremiah Englehart|
|9||Sara Street||4-1||Dylan Davis||Kiaran McLaughlin|
|10||Stakes On a Plane||20-1||Sheldon Russell||Jeff Talley|
2018 Black-Eyed Susan Contender: Coach Rocks
Romans, who won the 136th Preakness with Shackleford in 2011, is 2-2-0 in four editions of the Black-Eyed Susan. He was first and second with Go Maggie Go and 50-1 shot Ma Can Do It in 2016, won in 2015 with Keen Pauline, finished first but was disqualified to second in 2006 with Smart N Pretty, and came in fifth in 2008 with Pious Ashley.
Friday, he will be represented by Roddy Valente, RAP Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds' Coach Rocks, a come-from-behind winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on March 31 and subsequently seventh in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 4 at Churchill Downs, and William Pacella, Frank L. Jones and Frank Shoop's C. S. Incharge, victorious in the Suncoast Stakes in February at Tampa Bay Downs and then sixth in the Ashland (G1) on April 7 at Keeneland.
"They're both nice fillies," Romans said. "C.S. Incharge is an improving filly, and Coach came out of the Kentucky Oaks in good shape. I didn't like the way she ran, but we're going to wheel her right back the same way we did with Maggie. It'd be nice if we got the same kind of finish in the race as we did that year; it's a great race and I've always liked it."
Among the more accomplished members of the field is William B. Wilmot and Joan M. Taylor's Midnight Disguise, a multiple stakes winner of more than $270,000 in New York. The Midnight Lute filly has won four of her six career starts, including back-to-back stakes victories in the $100,000 Busanda and $200,000 Busher at Aqueduct.
In her most recent start, she was fourth as the beaten favorite in the Gazelle (G2), finishing 13 lengths behind My Miss Lilly.
"She ran two great races in the Busanda and Busher - a lifetime best in the Busher - and then bounced in the Gazelle," trainer Linda Rice said. "She had enough points to go to the Kentucky Oaks but we had no interest in going there off her performance in the Gazelle. But, since then, she's had a couple of nice breezes. We'll be putting blinkers on her and Irad Ortiz, Jr., who was two-for-two in her first two starts, will be back on her. So, we're looking to turn the tables from her last race."
2018 Black-Eyed Susan Contender: Midnight Disguise
Drs. William Wilmot and Joan Taylor's multiple stakes-winning homebred Midnight Disguise will have a change of rider and equipment when she returns to the races in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Friday, May 18 at legendary Pimlico Race Course.
Midnight Disguise enters the Black-Eyed Susan off a distant fourth-place finish in the April 7 Gazelle (G2) at Belmont Park under Trevor McCarthy, Maryland's leading rider in 2014 and 2016 who moved his tack to New York this year.
"Irad Ortiz Jr. is going to ride her and we're going to put some blinkers on her, as well," trainer Linda Rice said. "She's had a tendency to get a little lost. She runs behind horses and off the pace, and [wearing blinkers] just gives her a little more focus."
Impressive back-to-back stakes wins in the 1 1/8-mile Busanda Jan. 25 and one-mile Busher March 3 at Aqueduct, both with McCarthy aboard, had the connections thinking Kentucky Oaks (G1) for Midnight Disguise, but following the Gazelle they decided to skip the May 4 race and point for Baltimore.
"She had kind of a wide trip last time and she was maybe too far off of a slow pace, so we were a bit disappointed in the race. So, we passed on the Oaks and felt we would try to rebound in the Black-eyed Susan," Rice said. "She was just improving with each race and, frankly, her Busher race was quite impressive. She ran the best race of her life that day.
"She may have regressed off that big effort. We're hoping we've given her enough time to recover because she was definitely a bit flat in the Gazelle. We're hoping we see her back to her previous form in the Black-Eyed Susan," she added. "I've always watched the Black-Eyed Susan, and it would be a thrill to win it. It's a very historic race in Maryland, so it's exciting to have a chance to run it."
2018 Black-Eyed Susan Contender: Sara Street
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Sara Street will be making the journey from New York as well as she goes in search of her second victory in four starts this year. Bred and owned by Godolphin, the daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense out of the graded stakes winning mare Sara Louise broke her maiden on Feb. 4 at Aqueduct, then finished second in the Busher and second in the Gazelle.
"She went straight from a maiden to a stakes, and ran a really good second in the Busher and another really good second in the Gazelle," McLaughlin said. "We were thinking about the Kentucky Oaks but thought this would be a somewhat easier spot in addition to being an important race. She's a smallish filly, but always tries hard and is very competitive. She should run well."
In her most recent start, Sara Street finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle (G2) April 7 at Aqueduct, a half-length behind My Miss Lilly, who went on to run in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks. Prior to that effort, Sara Street beat My Miss Lilly when second in the one-mile Busher Stakes March 3, also over Aqueduct's main track.
"We always thought she would like the distance, and she ran very well to be second," McLaughlin said of the Gazelle. "She made her first start at Gulfstream [Dec. 10] and we decided to ship up to New York. We often do that getting started and then relocate. She won her next start and ran very well. From there we decided to run in the Busher because it looked like a good spot to get some black type, and she ran very well again."
McLaughlin said regular rider Dylan Davis will have the mount on Sara Street for the Black-Eyed Susan.
2018 Black-Eyed Susan Contender: Mihrab
RMJ Stables' Mihrab returns to stakes company after turning in an eye-catching allowance win on April 28 at Laurel Park, where she rallied from sixth to win by eight lengths going 1 1/16 miles.
"I was very impressed with her last race," trainer Graham Motion said. "The number didn't come back that strong but you certainly couldn't fault the way she did it. We ran her at Gulfstream in their version of the Oaks and she had a terrible post that day [finishing ninth from post position 10]. I probably shouldn't even have run her, so I was pleased with her recent effort. She's done very well since she got back to Fair Hill. We'll be taking a shot here but if she can duplicate that allowance win she can be competitive."
2018 Black-Eyed Susan Contender: Goodonehoney
Expected to attract attention is local standout Goodonehoney, who has won both her races by a combined margin of 11 3/4 lengths, albeit in decidedly different styles. In her first start on March 24 at Laurel, the Maryland-bred daughter of Great Notion was off slowly, but revved up once clear to score by 4 3/4 lengths.
Four weeks later, she made her stakes debut a winning one for owners Kasey K Racing Stable LLC, Final Turn Racing Stable LLC and Michael R. Day, grabbing the lead soon after the start and drawing off to a seven-length win in the 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss, earning her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan.
"We are asking a lot of her," trainer Jason Egan said. "She'll be facing probably the best group of horses she's ever had to, and she's never experienced that kind of atmosphere, either. She has earned it, and we are really happy with where she's at right now."
Regular rider and exercise partner Steve `Cowboy' Hamilton has been aboard for both of Goodonehoney's races, a 4 ¾-length debut triumph going six furlongs March 24 and the Weber City Miss, where she stretched out to about 1 1/16 miles, took the lead after going a half in 46.76 seconds and sprinted clear to a seven-length victory in 1:43.49.
"All in all, the filly's been doing well. She worked nice this morning," Hamilton said. "She was in hand, just snuck away from the pole beautifully, pricking her ears the whole way. I didn't do anything but sit there, and she took me the rest of the way. She seemed like she pulled up well and she's happy with how everything's going. We're looking for a big effort from her."
Goodonehoney will be making only her third career start and first against graded in the Black-Eyed Susan, being run for the 94th time. Hamilton will have the return mount.
2018 Black-Eyed Susan Contender: Indy Union
Robert G. Hahn's Indy Union will be making her second start of the year in the Black-Eyed Susan, having finished second, seven lengths back, in the Weber City Miss. The Union Rags filly won one of her five starts in 2017, scoring by seven in a one-mile maiden around one turn at Belmont Park, then concluded her juvenile campaign with a sixth in the Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Also entered is Loooch Racing Stables' maiden Tell Your Mama, who finished fourth behind Coach Rocks in the Gulfstream Park Oaks in her East coast debut and returned to run second, beaten a half-length, in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on April 22 at Keeneland.
Rounding out the field are Red Ruby, winner of the Martha Washington Stakes in February at Oaklawn Park, and Stakes On a Plane, most recently fourth in the Weber City Miss.