Graded-stakes winners Jaywalk and Always Shopping and Maryland-based Las Setas, riding a four-race win streak including three straight stakes, top a diverse group of 28 horses nominated to the $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan Friday, May 17 at Pimlico Race Course.
The 95th running of the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies highlights a 14-race program that includes seven stakes, four graded, worth $1.15 million in purses that serves as a fitting prelude to the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, Saturday, May 18.
First run in 1919 as the Pimlico Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan has been won by horses such as Nellie Morse, the only filly to also win the Preakness, in 1924; along with champions Vagrancy, Twilight Tear, But Why Not, Wistful, Real Delight, Office Queen, Davona Dale, Serena's Song, Silverbulletday and Royal Delta.
Named the juvenile filly champion of 2018 off a campaign that included wins in the Frizette (G1) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Jaywalk is one of five nominees exiting the Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 4 at Churchill Downs, along with runner-up Liora, Grade 1-placed Flor de La Mar, Motion Emotion and Positive Spirit, who clipped heels with Jaywalk and fell at the start.
Repole Stable's Always Shopping has won back-to-back stakes at Aqueduct to open her 3-year-old season, both at the Black-Eyed Susan distance – the Busanda Feb. 3 and the Gazelle (G2) April 6. Todd Pletcher-trained stablemates Off Topic, third in the Gazelle, and recent Keeneland maiden winner Cap de Creus are also nominated.
Maryland homebred Las Setas is unbeaten in four starts this year for Robert Manfuso, Wayne Harrison and trainer Katy Voss, and earned an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan for her nose triumph over fellow nominee Our Super Freak in the Weber City Miss Stakes April 20 at Laurel Park.
Sixth in her career debut last New Year's Eve, Las Setas broke her maiden Jan. 20 before easy front-running victories in the Wide Country and Beyond the Wire over the winter by 10 ½ combined lengths.
“Knock on wood, she's doing fine. She's come out of each race good, and we hope that keeps going,” Voss said. “The water is going to be a lot deeper … but hopefully she can move up a few points. She's always showed a lot of talent.”
Motion Emotion finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy (G3) April 12 at Oaklawn Park, less than a length ahead of OXO Equine's Black-Eyed Susan nominee Brill, who fetched $1 million as a yearling in 2017. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Brill was fourth in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and third in the Chandelier (G1) to cap her 2-year-old season.
Arindel's Cookie Dough swept the final two legs of the Florida Sire Series stakes for juvenile fillies, the Susan's Girl and My Dear Girl, by 14 combined lengths but an illness prevented her from running in the Breeders' Cup. She returned to action to be second by a head in the one-mile Davona Dale (G2) and third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) March 30 last out, failing to earn enough qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks.
Also among the Black-Eyed Susan nominees are Gulfstream Oaks runner-up Dunbar Road; High Regard, third in the 2018 Golden Rod (G2); Maddie May Stakes winner Pat's No Fool, third in the Weber City Miss; Suncoast Stakes winner Point of Honor; and Ruthless Stakes winner Ujjayi.
Entries will be taken and post positions drawn for the Black-Eyed Susan Sunday, May 12.
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