05/19/2011 4:06PM

Black-Eyed Susan


It's unfortunate, but the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is generally considered an afterthought following the usual barn-burner that is the Kentucky Oaks. 

In a way, it's like the Derby Trial, a nice graded race for a good pot of money, but usually full of second-stringers that either weren't considered good enough to contest the Oaks, or didn't have the graded earnings to meet the Churchill starter. 

It wasn't always like that, however.  You don't have to go all the way back to the days of Vagrancy (1942), Twilight Tear (1944), Gallorette (1945), My Juliet (1975) and Davona Dale (1979) to find top-class horses that won the Black-Eyed Susan. 

After an unsuccessful bid in the Kentucky Derby, Serena's Song took the 1995 renewal  for jockey Gary Stevens.  Four years later, Stevens was again in the Pimlico winner's circle, this time with the classy Silverbulletday, who used the Black-Eyed Susan as a springboard to a try in the Belmont Stakes. 

I know that the "Filly Triple Crown" concept is dead and buried, but it was always a regionalized series, based in New York around the Acorn, Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks. 

At present, we have fillies prepping seriously for the Kentucky Oaks, giving that one the college try, and then being freshened for races like the Alabama at Saratoga over the summer. 

Perhaps a combination of the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan, and Mother Goose, all contested at nine furlongs, would make for an exciting Filly Triple that would keep the good sophomore ladies interested during the late spring. 

A little bonus money wouldn't hurt, either.

This year's Black-Eyed Susan features some promising runners although none have shown the world true star potential.  ROYAL DELTA is a logical choice based on her 12-length debut score for Bill Mott last fall at Belmont and her 90-Beyer triumph last time out over the Keeneland polytrack.  I've always wondered if she is truly a dirt filly at heart, however, and can't wait until Mott tries her on the turf down the road.  She should run well off a series of quick workouts, and has the tactical speed to find a good spot off the early leaders.  The main issue with Royal Delta is the extremely poor performance she gave in the Suncoast Stakes two back.  Perhaps it was simply a case of her not being fully cranked off the bench, but she never picked up her feet in a baffling effort.

WYOMIA, the morning line favorite, also figures tough as she makes the third start of the form cycle.  A Grade 3 winner on polytrack last year, she whipped Royal Delta on dirt two starts back before finishing second to longshot Lilacs and Lace in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland.  A late-running type, she should get a bit of pace to attack, but she just hasn't run a truly fast race this year.  She's solid, but not spectacular.

HOT SUMMER makes her first try around two turns after registering a perfect-trip win over a closer-friendly Aqueduct surface in the Grade 3 Comely.  She should be forwardly-placed under Ramon Dominguez and may get the jump on both Royal Delta and Wyomia turning for home.  She's not out of this, but I'm generally not a fan of playing horses coming back off good-trip wins.

COAX LIBERTY stretches out off a series of sprints and looms a pace challenger under Garrett Gomez.  By Successful Appeal out of a Housebuster mare, the nine-furlong distance is a question mark, and she was beaten almost 12 lengths in her prior route effort. 

BUSTER'S READY goes out for Pletcher and Velazquez following a one-turn stakes win over muddy going at Aqueduct.  A converted maiden claimer, she has succeeded around two turns in the past, but needs a Beyer boost to seriously contend.

The more I look at the race, the more I'm intrigued by LOVE THEWAY YOUARE, a Southern California-based filly stepping up in class and distance following two late-running wins.  She's going to need some pace help up front, but she inhaled the leaders last time out over the Hollywood cushion track and she is proven over dirt.  I'm not concerned about the distance, and she may be the value play in a contentious Black-Eyed Susan. 

In multi-race wagers, I'd use Royal Delta, Hot Summer, and Love Theway Youare.

More importantly, who do you like in the Black-Eyed Susan?  I want to know.

Back early Saturday morning with Preakness card opinions.


This week's HandiGambling event is the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.


Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan." Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified. Please post your plays and analysis to the blog. In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please. I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are. I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

Best of luck to all.

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