Friday’s 94th running of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies highlights a 14-race program at Pimlico Race Course that includes seven stakes races. The Black-Eyed Susan serves as a major event on the eve of the 143rd Preakness Stakes, the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, and this year’s solid field of 10 will take their shot.
Trainer Dale Romans sends out two for the race, including the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Coach Rocks and the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes winner C. S. Incharge. Both fillies are coming off of tough races in their last starts in which neither fired her best effort. However, as always, Romans is optimistic about their chances.
“They’re both nice fillies,” said Romans, who won the Black-Eyed Susan in 2015 with Keen Pauline and in 2016 with Go Maggie Go. “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.”
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Sara Street will ship in from New York looking for her second victory in four starts this year. The Godolphin-owned filly broke her maiden three races back before finishing second in both the $200,000 Busher Stakes and the Grade 2 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct. Jockey Dylan Davis has the mount and will break from post 9.
“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.”
The full field from the rail out: Tell Your Mama, Midnight Disguise, Coach Rocks, Red Ruby, Mihrab, C. S. Incharge, Goodonehoney, Indy Union, Sara Street, and Stakes On a Plane.
#9 Sara Street – This year’s version of the Black-Eyed Susan is about as evenly-matched as it gets. From a speed figure standpoint, Sara Street has a small advantage that she earned when running the same distance as this race. Those two factors make her the pick in this spot, but it isn’t a slam dunk. You have to like her outside post position because she can use her early speed to stalk the leaders and get a clear run on the outside. She was only a 1/2-length loser in the Gazelle last time out, and this race is pretty similar to that one as far as the field depth goes. This filly seems to be improving with each race and could be ready to run a big one.
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#3 Coach Rocks – This was one of my under-the-radar plays in the Kentucky Oaks, but she just didn’t fire in that race. However, Romans won this race a couple of years ago with Go Maggie Go by wheeling her back in two weeks after losing in the Kentucky Oaks. The recent experience helps, and this small drop down in class will as well. She hasn’t gotten the best trips in her last two starts, and she probably can’t afford a poor trip here. Breaking well and getting solid early position from this inside post will be imperative to her chances.
#7 Goodonehoney – This will be a massive class test for this filly. She’s a perfect 2-for-2 in her career, but this will be her toughest challenge by far. She debuted at Laurel Park with a blowout win in a $40,000 maiden claiming race, then went straight to stakes company for her next start. After taking the early lead in the $125,000 Weber City Miss Stakes at Laurel Park, she crushed the competition down the stretch to win by 7 lengths. The Beyer speed figure for her effort came back as a strong 86, which is competitive with any in this field. We’ll see if she can handle the class test that has been put in front of her.
#2 Midnight Disguise – At one time, this filly was considered a main contender for the Kentucky Oaks, but she struggled horribly in her final prep race at Aqueduct, finishing fourth while beaten 13 lengths in the Gazelle. She will wear blinkers for the first time, and there seems to be plenty of early pace for her to chase. Two races back, she defeated our top pick with ease, but that race was at a mile. She does have a win at this distance, though, and is certainly much better than what she showed last time out.
#8 Indy Union – She’s had an up-and-down career so far, but at her best, she could hit the board here at a price. Three races back, she impressively broke her maiden at Belmont Park, then went straight to the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes. That race was a total disaster, though, as she finished a well-beaten sixth, but after a long break, she debuted as a 3-year-old in the Weber City Miss, finishing second. She should be set to improve now that she has a race under her belt this year, and the longer distance should be something that she enjoys.
#6 C. S. Incharge – Romans will give it a shot with a filly that really disappointed last time out in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. She was a total non-factor in that spot, but she did win the Suncoast two races back at Tampa Bay Downs. That race didn’t come back very fast from a speed figure standpoint, but visually, it was impressive. It’s hard to get a gauge on how she might run here, but she’s more talented than what she showed last time out. If her price floats high enough, then she will be worth a shot.
#4 Red Ruby – This might be a dangerous one to throw out, but her last effort at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes left a lot to be desired. After winning the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes in the slop, she was empty running down the stretch in the Honeybee. Add that in with the fact that she hasn’t started since March, and it makes for a tough ask of her in this spot.
#1 Tell Your Mama – She’s still a maiden, but hey, a maiden won this race last year, so maybe lightning can strike twice. Actress won off of back-to-back runner-up efforts, but this situation seems a little different: Tell Your Mama is 0-for-10 lifetime. It’s a real long shot that she becomes a winner here.
#5 Mihrab – This filly tries stakes company again after an 8-length victory against allowance foes at Laurel Park last time out. However, her three previous stakes tries have not gone well, and the Black-Eyed Susan may not be the easiest spot for her to give it another try.
#10 Stakes On a Plane – She might have the coolest name in all of horse racing, but this spot is just a bit too tough for her. Since changing trainers, she has one victory in an optional claimer and two off-the-board finishes against ungraded stakes company. She will have to step up in a big way to have a shot.