Top 3 picks for Black-Eyed Susan plus Longshot play
Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) at Pimlico, the sister race to the 140th running of the Preakness S. (G1) on Saturday, features a head-scratching field of nine sophomore fillies ready to go 1 1/8 miles.
Head-scratching because the group features a mix of familiar faces and new shooters. Head-scratching because not a one has competed over the track before. Head-scratching because only one has started at the distance.
Nonetheless, I’ve listed my top three picks below along with a longshot play. Take it with a grain of salt as this field is not easy.
- I overlooked the Larry Jones fillies to my chagrin in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) two weeks ago, but I won’t be caught flat-footed again with a Jones runner. The trainer doesn’t have any entries in the Black-Eyed Susan, but owner Brereton C. Jones does in the form of INCLUDE BETTY (Include). The chestnut miss ran in the Oaks, but suffered a terrible trip. After being bumped in midstretch, Include Betty found herself blocked in traffic and was forced to steady, eventually finishing eighth. The filly never really got a chance to run, so it would be reasonable to assume she’s entering the Black-Eyed Susan raring to go. Include Betty is the only graded winner in the bunch, taking the Fantasy S. (G3) by a neck while utilizing her preferred late run from the rear of the pack, and gets Drayden Van Dyke in the saddle.
DANESSA DELUXE (Summer Bird) ended being excluded from the Oaks after not earning enough points in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of races earlier in the season. She would have been making just her second start for new trainer Jorge Navarro in the contest after debuting for the barn with a nice third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on March 28. The chestnut miss concluded her juvenile campaign with a fourth-placing in the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3) for trainer Antonio Sano in late November, and is eligible to improve in her second start off the winter break. Danessa Deluxe earned a nice 95 BRIS Speed rating for her Gulfstream Park Oaks effort and brings John Velazquez along for the ride Friday.
It could be a mistake leaving 9-5 favorite Luminance (Tale of the Cat) out of my top three, but I just can’t go with a short price in such a competitive race. Instead, DEVINE AIDA (Unbridled’s Song) gets my endorsement off a fourth-placing in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Prior to that, the Ramon Morales pupil captured four straight races by a total of nearly 15 1/2 lengths. The gray filly has proven her versatility by winning on turf, dirt and a sloppy, sealed track thus far. Devine Aida and jockey Jesus Rios have been a great team since the beginning and will go for the win at 10-1 on the Black-Eyed Susan morning line.
The longest shot in the field is GYPSY JUDY (Kitalpha) at 20-1, and the chestnut lass could end up getting a piece of the top three. Trained by Robin Graham, the three-year-old has competed exclusively at Laurel Park, racking up a 5-2-1-1 career mark that includes wins in the Wide Country S. and a third in the Caesar’s Wish S. She hasn’t run since that latter event on March 21 but has been working up a storm, recording a couple of bullets recently that should have her fit and ready under regular rider Horacio Karamanos on Friday.