Updated on 05/16/2013 1:32PM

Pimlico: Black-Eyed Susan to point way for Emollient; scratches leave field of 7

Barbara D. Livingston
Emollient comes into the Black-Eyed Susan off a nine-length victory in the Ashland over the Polytrack at Keeneland.

BALTIMORE - With one eye on a big prize and the other on the future, trainer Bill Mott returns Emollient to dirt in Friday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico.

Emollient, a daughter of Empire Maker, comes into the Black-Eyed Susan off a dynamic nine-length victory in the Grade 1 Ashland, a race run over the synthetic surface at Keeneland. But before Mott commits Emollient to synthetics or even the turf for the remainder of her 3-year-old season, the Hall of Fame trainer wants to give the filly one more shot on the dirt.

“I’m looking for something to give me some direction on what I’m going to do the rest of the year,” Mott said. “Obviously, she’s run well on the dirt, but she never wowed me the way she wowed me when she ran at Keeneland. If she comes back and runs that well on the dirt I’ll be pretty impressed, but I wouldn’t be so confident that’s going to happen.”

A field of nine was entered for the Black-Eyed Susan, but the race lost two 3-year-old fillies on Thursday when the connections of Walkwithapurpose and Manuka Honey said they would be scratching.

Walkwithapurpose, a three-time listed stakes winner, was diagnosed with a bruised foot, according to a statement released by her owner, the Sagamore Farm. Manuka Honey, winner of the Suncoast Stakes and runner-up in the Grade 3 Fantasy, will scratch after coming out of her most recent workout “a little flat,” according to trainer John Terranova.

Those scratches remove some speed out of the race, and moves Emollient from post 7 to post 5.

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Emollient has solid dirt form. She has two wins and two seconds on dirt, including a second in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at 1 1/8 miles last fall. Her one head-scratching performance on dirt came in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks when she was beaten 30 lengths by Dreaming of Julia. The race was such a non-effort for Emollient that Mott wheeled her back in a week in the Ashland in which she galloped by nine lengths in gate to wire fashion.

Two years ago, Mott won the Black-Eyed Susan with Royal Delta, who had a head-scratching performance in the Suncoast Stakes on dirt at Tampa before bouncing back with an allowance win at Keeneland prior to the Black-Eyed Susan.

“It’d be nice to have another Royal Delta,” said Mott, referring to the two-time champion who remains in training.

Mike Smith will ride Emollient from post 7.

Trainer Bob Baffert seeks his third Black-Eyed Susan with Fiftyshadesofhay, winner of the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel in January and runner-up to Beholder in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes in March.

Baffert had considered the Kentucky Oaks for Fiftyshadesofhay, but the filly missed four days of training after becoming colicky upon arriving in Louisville.

Baffert will equip Fiftyshadesofhay with blinkers, equipment she wore in the first three races of her career without a win.

“Last time,” Baffert said, referring to a third-place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks, jockey Rafael Bejarano “had to get after her to keep up and keep her in the bridle.”

Baffert said that Rosie Napravnik had been working Fiftyshadesofhay in Louisville, but Joel Rosario will ride on Friday.

Maracuya is an interesting filly in this field. She is a half-sister to Payton d’Oro, the 2009 Black-Eyed Susan winner and has won her first two starts at Gulfstream. Both of those races were run around one turn, but trainer Ralph Nicks is looking forward to stretching her out around two turns.

“She’s trained like she’s wanted it from Day One,” Nicks said. “It may be a little ambitious, on the other hand, it’s a pretty good spot for $500,000. The filly is doing outstanding and it’s a good place to take a shot.”

John Velazquez rides Maracuya from post 6.

Lady Banks, a stakes-winning sprinter, Petit Trianon, a winner of three straight including a turf allowance race, Toasting, and Marathon Lady complete the field.

The Black-Eyed Susan goes as race 10 on a 13-race card that begins at noon Eastern and includes six other stakes, including the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special. The Black-Eyed Susan is the second leg of an all-stakes pick-four that will have a guaranteed pool of $250,000.

The Black-Eyed Susan will be shown live on the NBC Sports Network during a one-hour broadcast from 4-5 p.m. Eastern.