Arindel's multiple stakes-winning homebred Cookie Dough, unable to make planned starts in the Breeders' Cup and Kentucky Oaks (G1), will finally get her chance on the big stage in Friday's $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.
The 95th running of the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies is one of seven stakes, four graded, worth $1.15 million in purses on a 14-race program on the eve of the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
First-race post time Friday is 11:30 a.m. ET. The Black-Eyed Susan, carded 11th, has a scheduled post time of 4:48 p.m. and will be part of NBCSN's national television coverage from 3 to 5 p.m.
Based at Gulfstream Park with trainer Stanley Gold, Cookie Dough made the 17 ½-hour trip from South Florida to Baltimore arriving early Monday morning. She jogged over Pimlico's main track Thursday for the second straight day under Arindel's assistant farm trainer Carl Allsop.
“I just took her for a jog around the racetrack, just once around the wrong way to stretch her legs,” Allsop said. “She shipped like a pro, took everything in stride and settled straight in. She hasn't dropped a grain since she's been here. We're happy, she's healthy, and we're ready to go and win the Black-Eyed Susan.”
Allsop said there was no adjustment time needed for Cookie Dough, a Florida-bred daughter of Brethren who walked quietly around the shedrow following her Thursday morning exercise before settling into her stall on the back side of Barn D, adjacent to the Preakness Stakes Barn.
“From the first day I took her out there, she just jogged around there like she's been here all her life. Very professional,” Allsop said. “It was kind of nice being one of the first ones here, because she got time to settle in before all the madness. It might play to our advantage a little bit.”
Cookie Dough swept the final two legs of the Florida Sire Series for 2-year-old fillies last fall, and was targeted for a start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) but developed pneumonia shortly after arriving in Kentucky and was forced to scratch. Following recovery, she didn't make her sophomore debut until March 2, leading all the way before getting nailed at the wire by Jeltrin in the one-mile Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream.
For her next start, Cookie Dough came back in the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), and again set the pace through six furlongs before winding up third behind Champagne Anyone and Dunbar Road. Champagne Anyone was fourth and Jeltrin finished 10th in the Oaks May 3, while Cookie Dough failed to earn enough qualifying points and was left to wait for Baltimore.
“We were still very hopeful that we'd get in the Oaks, but we didn't quite make it. It was a circumstance of events, it happens,” Allsop said. “We're here and ready for this one.”
Cookie Dough drew Post 4 in a field of nine and was made the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind 5-2 program favorite Point of Honor, fourth in the Gulfstream Oaks and also on the outside looking in for the Kentucky Oaks.
Reigning Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Cookie Dough for the first time, replacing Gulfstream-based jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, who had been aboard for her last six races.
“It's a good draw for her. She's got an engine. She's going to be right up there,” Allsop said. “We're going to Irad this time around. No reason at all except that he's here, and he's one of the best in the country. He's going to have her right in the body of the race. She's just got that natural speed, great gate speed. He can sit with her and get a piece of it – a big piece of it.”
It's possible Cookie Dough could go to the track Friday morning, Allsop said, depending on her demeanor. The track will be open for training from 5 to 8:30 a.m.
“We like to take her out in the afternoons, too. She goes out and stretches her legs. Tomorrow morning, it's totally up to Stan. He said we'll just see how she's acting,” he said. “If she's getting really high and happy and like a handful, then we're going to consider taking her out and just giving her a jog early in the morning. If she's as calm as she's being right now, we'll probably just leave her. This is how she's been since she got here.”
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