05/17/2017 12:26PM

Black-Eyed Susan a real scramble

Barbara D. Livingston
Summer Luck finished fifth in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland. Assistant trainer Norm Casse said she was compromised by a slow pace.

BALTIMORE – Questions abound regarding the 11 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on Friday, and determining who will have the right race-day answer is no easy assignment.

The 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan is one of seven stakes on the 14-race program, which also includes the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special. The card has total purses of $1.37 million. Last year, betting reached $18.6 million.

A special two-day daily double will link the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan with the Preakness. There are a trio of $300,000-guaranteed pools Friday: the pick five that starts on race 7, the race 8 pick four, and a pick four that begins with the Black-Eyed Susan, race 11.

Black-Eyed Susan entrant Summer Luck, trained by Mark Casse, finished fast and came within three-quarters of a length of catching the victorious Miss Sky Warrior in the one-mile Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park. But when stretched out a sixteenth of a mile farther in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland on April 8, she could barely make a dent late and finished fifth.

:: Like this article? Get access to all premium articles, real-time coverage, special reports, and charts. Unlock access with DRF Plus.

Norm Casse, assistant to his father, points out that the Ashland race shape did not favor Summer Luck’s style.

“She was compromised by a slow pace in the Ashland,” Casse said. “We were hoping for a better effort that would get her to the Kentucky Oaks, so it was disappointing. But she’s doing very well, and we think the 1 1/8 miles will be perfect for her.”

Yorkiepoo Princess had won three consecutive Aqueduct stakes coming into the Grade 2 Gazelle there on April 8. She raced in good position early but bled, according to trainer Ed Barker, and dropped suddenly from contention. She will be first-time Lasix on Friday.

“By 4 a.m. the next morning, she was on her way to the New Jersey Equine Clinic,” Barker said.

While at the clinic, Yorkiepoo Princess was given 12 days of hyperbaric chamber treatments and a myectomy – a minor throat procedure – after she was found to have ulcers under her epiglottis.

“She’s put on weight since the hyperbaric, and she’s training good,” Barker said.

Shimmering Aspen, a $200,000 yearling purchase by the Hillwood Stable of Ellen Charles, is based at Laurel Park with trainer Rodney Jenkins. She has impressively won a pair of optional-claiming races at Laurel following a seven-month layoff but will be facing tougher competition and racing beyond seven furlongs for the first time on Friday. She won by seven lengths going seven furlongs on April 29 in her last race.

“When she came back from the seven-eighths, she hardly blew out a match,” Jenkins said. “But that was against much easier company. Let’s see how she does on the step up.”

Todd Pletcher has entered both the Keeneland maiden winner Moana and Lights of Medina, who earned a fees-paid berth in this race by winning the Weber City Miss at Laurel Park.

“Moana is very talented but inexperienced,” Pletcher said. “That would be my biggest worry. Lights of Medina is improving.”

The owner of the Black-Eyed Susan winner will receive a free breeding to Ghostzapper, who stands for $75,000 at Adena Springs Kentucky, which is owned by Frank Stronach.

Black-Eyed Susan, Race 11

Key contenders

Summer Luck, by Lookin At Lucky

Last 3 Beyers: 69-79-74

◗ Shimmering Aspen and Tapa Tapa Tapa should set realistic fractions and give her a good pace setup.

Yorkiepoo Princess, by Kantharos

Last 3 Beyers: 40-73-75

◗ Irad Ortiz Jr. has ridden her four straight times, but a number of his Pimlico calls on Friday fell through, according to Barker, and he will be staying in New York. Horacio Karamanos, the second-leading rider at the recently concluded Laurel Park meet, takes over.

◗ She will have to overcome post 11.

Shimmering Aspen, by Malibu Moon

Last 3 Beyers: 82-74-58

◗ Jenkins had considered cross-entering her in the Black-Eyed Susan and Grade 3 Miss Preakness but ultimately entered her only here.

“We took her to Pimlico and worked her, and she seemed to handle the track, so we decided to try the Black-Eyed Susan,” Jenkins said.

Moana, by Uncle Mo

Beyers: 79-70

◗ The 79 Beyer Speed Figure she earned in winning a two-turn maiden race at Keenland stacks up well here. Lights of Medina also comes into this off a two-turn victory.

“They should both like 1 1/8 miles,” Pletcher said.

Dancing Rags, by Union Rags

Last 3 Beyers: 64-62-73

◗ She won the Grade 1 Alcibiades at 2 and is the only graded stakes winner in the field. She finished eighth in her 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Beaumont at Keeneland and will be stretching back out around two turns in this race for Graham Motion.

Actress, by Tapit

Beyers: 82-76

◗ Although still a maiden after two starts for Jason Servis, she was given an 82 Beyer in her most recent start, a second in the Game Face at Gulfstream. That ties Shimmering Aspen’s latest figure as the second-highest in this field. The highest is the 85 that Yorkiepoo Princess earned in winning the Furlough at Aqueduct last November.