05/19/2016 2:31PM

Black-Eyed Susan Day 2016 Live Blog


Friday, 5 pm -- Go Maggie Go ($5.60), a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Oaks13 days ago, won a virtual match race with Kinsley Kisses and pulled clear late to take the G2 Black-Eyed Susan. Winning trainer Dale Romans ran 1-2 as his 50-1 Ma Can Do It was up late for second, with Kinsley Kisses third and Dothraki Queen fourth in a field of 12.

Go Maggie Go, a Ghostzapper filly bred and owned by Mike Tarp, is now 3 for 4. The winner's time was 1:51.81 under Luis Saez.

The race unfolded with Kinsley Kisses on the outside and Go Maggie Go from the inside racing as a team through mild splits of 48.83, 1:13.54 and 1:38.58. Go Maggie Go began to inch away and drew clear even as she drifted out late.

Go Maggie Go, the second choice to Oaks runner-up Land Over Sea, completed a $2 pick-5 worth $3179.20, a $2 pick-4 that paid $1560.00 and a 20-cent jackpot pick-6 that returned $335.84.

You can check back here later tonight for a preview of tomorrow's Preakness Pick-5 sequence, starting in race 9, of the Chick Lang, G3 Gallorette, Sir Barton, G2 Dixie and G1 Preakness. See you back here tomorrow.

Friday, 4:35 pm -- Gone Away ($29.80) finished strongly down the middle of the course and just held off an even late dash up the inside from Family Meeting to win the $100k Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies on the grass by a head.

It was an oddly-run race, with overmatched 29-1 Morethanjusthello setting an insane pace and opening a seven-length lead while apparently having equipment problems that caused her to be virtually pulled up in upper stretch. Javier Castellano lost his right iron coming out of the gate.

Gone Away, a 3-year-old Leroidesanimaux filly owned by Augustin Stable and trained by Michael Matz, ran the mile and a sixteenth in 1:41.68 under Florent Geroux. Only four lengths separated the first nine finishers under the wire.

Gone Away's victory added some needed spice to the multirace payoffs:

I'm alive for $1 to Dothraki Queen (#2), Land Over Sea (#3) and Go Maggie Go (#5), and for 50 cents to Kinsley Kisses (#10).

Friday, 4:00 pm -- Ahh Chocolate ($9.00) reeled in 6-1 Super Majesty in midstretch and then held off a late charge from 5-1 Theogony to win the G3 DuPont Distaff by half a length.

The 4-year-old Candy Ride filly, owned by Stoneway Farm and trained by Neil Howard, ran the nine furlongs in 150.82 under B. J. Hernandez. Theogeny came from last place to be second, with 24-1 Joint Return up for third and Super Majesty fourth in a field of nine.

Friday, 3:30 pm -- Ben's Cat, the incredible 10-year-old gelding, surged at the wire to overtake 25-1 Spring to the Sky and 4-5 favorite Rocket Heat and win the Pimlico Turf Sprint for the fifth time. The son of Parker's Storm Cat won the race in 2011, finished 5th in 2012, and now has won the race for four years in a row. Overall, he has won 32 of 55 starts for The Jim Stable and trainer King Leatherbury.

Ben's Cat paid $7.00 as the 5-2 second choice, his highest mutuel among his five triumphs in the race.  He paid $5.60 in 2011, $4.20 in 2013, $2.80 in 2014 and $6.20 last year.

Here's a picture of Ben's Cat and Leatherbury, taken earlier this week by photographer Jon Kral:

Spring to the Sky, making his first start of the year and reported as having been newly gelded as a 7-year-old, was second, a neck behind the winner and half a length in front of Rocket Heat, who had blazed to a clear early lead in 21.46 and 44.04 but tired late.

Ben's Cat ran the five furlongs under Trevor McCarthy in 56.10. His other winning times in race were 59.71 on a yielding course in 2011, 56.18 in 2013, 57.75 when the race was rained onto the main track in 2014, and 56.04 last year.

Friday, 2:50 pm -- Everyone's alive in the pick-5. Noble Bird ($3.60), took command early and then rocketed away from the field to win the Special by what looked like a dozen lengths over Idolo Porteno and Savoy Stomp. [Update: It was only 11 1/4.] He looked like a Grade 1 winner toying with allowance horses, which is pretty much what he was.

Noble Bird, a 5-year-old son of Birdstone owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse, was winning for the first time since taking the G1 Stephen Foster last June. He ran the mile and three-sixteenths of the Special in 1:55.18 after getting his first six furlongs in 1:12.12.

This was formally the "Sagamore Spirit Pimlico Special," named for a new brand of rye whiskey linked to historic Sagamore Farm, Alfred Vanderbilt's former breeding operation about 15 miles northwest of Pimlico. The farm was purchased in 2007 by Kevin Plank, the founder of Under Armour sports apparel, who has revived its racing and breeding operations. According to the local The Georgetowner newspaper, the Sagamore Spirit rye whiskey is "cut to 83 proof with springwater that bubbles up through the limestone on Plank's farm."

Friday, 2:15 pm: If you chased the rainbow, the jackpot pick-6 sequence started in Race 6, just won by heavy favorite Sunnysammi ($3.00) over Hooligan and Satan's Mistress. Five furlongs on the turf went in 56.93 seconds.

Noble Bird opened the even-money favorite for the Special. Idolo Porteno, 12-1 on the morning line, who I thought would be something like 4-1 after the scratches of Stanford and Page McKenney, is instead is the 8-5 second choice. The 6-year-old is making his third American start and seeking his first victory since winning the G1 Carlos Pelligrini, South American's top race, in December of 2014.

The stakes pick-5 has a $300,000 guarantee. The takeout is a mere 12 percent on all pick-5's at Pimlico.

Friday, 2 pm -- Here's the pick-5 play. The way it shook out, my A's and B's were pretty narrow, so I was able to press the 5A and 4A/1B tickets while using lots of C's at the minimum level:

Friday, 12:45 pm -- It's fast and firm at Pimlico so far, with a 0 percent chance of rain in the forecast. Enjoy it while you can, since that number goes up to 80 percent tomorrow for Preakness Day.

(I would have started out saying "Happy Black-Eyed Susan Day," but when I sounded out those words in my head, all I could think of was a happy Laurie from "The Partridge Family" -- actress Susan Dey --  with a black eye. But I do hope you have a happy, black-eyed Susan Dey.)

Anyway, there's a major scratch to start the stakes racing and Pick-5 sequence that begins with the Pimlico Special at 2:39 pm. We knew yesterday that ML favorite Stanford was going to be scratched from the Special to await the Met Mile June 11, but this morning second-choice Page McKenney was also scratched, leaving a field of six.

With Page McKenney in the race, I thought you could lock it up by using just him and the talented but erratic Noble Bird. Now, Noble Bird will romp if he runs his best race but that's a serious "if": Since winning the G1 Stephen Foster 11 months ago, Noble Bird has lost his four starts by a combined 51 lengths.

I'm still going to lean on him. His second to Eagle in the Ben Ali two back wasn't as good as his Foster but a repeat of it should beat these comfortably. Still, whereas I wan going to use no backups when Page McKenney was in the race, I'll now have a couple of "C's" on my ticket in Leg 1.

The other scratches in the sequence are Tiger Ride from the DuPont (she was cross-entered in tomorrow's Gallorette), and four longshot fillies who probably weren't going to be on your tickets anyway: Princess Princess and Lady Oak from the Hilltop; and In the Navy Now and Cced from the Black-Eyed Susan.

I'll post my Pick-5 play here by 2 p.m.

Thursday, 3:30 pm -- Friday's card at Pimlico is not as rich or fancy as Oaks Day at Churchill, but the stakes racing is pretty interesting and makes for a dandy pick-5 on races 7 through 11 -- the G3 Pimlico Special, the Turf Sprint, the G3 DuPont Distaff, the Hilltop and the G2 Black-Eyed Susan.

I'll be back in this space Friday afternoon to post my tickets and grouse or celebrate my way through the sequence, which begins with the Special at 2:39 pm ET. I'll also post a Preakness pick-5 Preview Friday evening and will live-blog the Preakness card starting Saturday morning.

Andrew Beyer and I went through the Friday pick-5 sequence on a drf.com webinar and had similar thoughts as to which races are relatively straightforward and which ones required deep coverage and were candidates for chaos. We both thought the Special, Turf Sprint and Black-Eyed Susan had 2 or 3 standouts, while the DuPont and Hilltop were wide-open.

Below is my horse-by-horse rundown on the five stakes, listing each entrant's morning-line odds, last-out Beyer Speed Figure, best BSF on today's footing (dirt or turf), highest winning level, and a comment on each: