05/19/2017 6:17PM

Actress wins maiden in style in Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Actress (right), with Nik Juarez aboard, beats Lights of Medina by a neck in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.

BALTIMORE – The heat broke and the rains came in the hour before the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on Friday, turning the fast track sloppy. And when the 11-horse field hit the wire, Actress had gone from a maiden to a graded stakes winner.

Actress, a Tapit filly bred and owned by Gary and Mary West, came from far back in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. She saved ground early under jockey Nik Juarez and then began to advance nearing the far turn. Juarez checked her off heels nearing the stretch of the $250,000 race and then took her to the outside. She took the lead nearing the furlong pole and then outbattled Lights of Medina to win by a head.

Trainer Jason Servis had run Actress twice at Gulfstream Park. In her March debut, she closed from far back to finish second of 11 fillies going six furlongs.

Servis stretched her out to seven furlongs and put her in against winners in the restricted Game Face Stakes in April, and she finished second to My Miss Tapit, who is trained by Todd Pletcher and is now 2 for 2.

"She came running first time out but just didn't get there," Servis said. "I think this win flatters Pletcher's filly."

The Black-Eyed Susan was a big jump in class for Actress, and she was going a quarter-mile farther than in her prior start.

"I really didn't know who was coming, and it really didn't matter," Servis said. "I thought she deserved the chance."

Actress paid $27.60 as the eighth betting choice. She was timed in 1:51.87.

Tapa Tapa Tapa set the early pace on a short lead inside Full House and then drew clear on the backstretch. Shimmering Aspen stalked the leaders from third, and Summer Luck also was forwardly placed.

Shimmering Aspen moved up on the far turn and took a short leading entering the stretch. Nearing the furlong pole, five fillies were fighting it out for the lead across the track before the top pair separated themselves from the others.

Corporate Queen rallied from last to get up for third, two lengths behind Lights of Medina and 1 1/2 lengths clear of fourth-place Torrent, who made a determined move along the rail in midstretch.

Tapa Tapa Tapa, Shimmering Aspen, and Summer Luck finished sixth through eighth.

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The Black-Eyed Susan was the first Grade 2 victory for Juarez, who began riding in 2013 and has won four Grade 3 stakes. Juarez finished fourth in the jockey standings at the Gulfstream Park championship meet this winter.

Juarez and Servis are 30 for 92 when they team up together.

"We clicked all winter in Florida, and we're continuing to do well up north," Juarez said.

Servis has trained for the Wests, who were not in attendance, for about a year and a half and was very happy for them after the Black-Eyed Susan.

"It's not just about the money," he said. "The Wests are passionate about the game, and they bred this filly. I'm sure they are ecstatic about this."