05/12/2013 4:03PM

Pimlico: Emollient, Walkwithapurpose to meet in Black-Eyed Susan

Coady Photography/Keeneland
Emollient romped to a nine-length win in the Grade 1 Ashland last month and will start in Friday's Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan.

Preakness Weekend will get off to a rousing start Friday, when Ashland Stakes winner Emollient takes on Maryland hotshot Walkwithapurpose in the Grade 2, $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan.

The 3-year-old filly classic is one of 16 stakes to be run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Friday and Saturday. The races are worth $3.4 million in total, with the centerpiece the second leg of the Triple Crown, the 138th Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

The Black-Eyed Susan drew a field of nine when entries were taken Sunday. It goes as the 10th on a 13-race program that begins at noon Eastern. There are seven stakes on the card Friday, including the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special, which will be linked with the Preakness in a new double. The Preakness field will be drawn Wednesday.

In the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan, Emollient will break from post 7. Mike Smith has the mount for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bill Mott. Walkwithapurpose will be tucked to Emollient’s inside, starting from post 5. Jose Lezcano will ride for Sagamore Farm and trainer Ignacio Correas.

Emollient will be returning to dirt Friday after a nine-length Ashland win on Polytrack at Keeneland on April 6. She led throughout in the Grade 1 race and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 97. It was Emollient’s first start on a synthetic surface and her first win in a stakes, and Mott said the path she takes for the remainder of the year could be determined Friday.

“We’re on sort of a discovery search, just trying to compare her last race to this race coming up,” he said. “We need to put her back on the dirt and compare races and decide which surface we want to keep her on the rest of the year. She’s run good races on the dirt, but she ran exceptionally well at Keeneland in the Ashland. This will sort of tell us what direction to go in.”

The Black-Eyed Susan has long been a goal for Walkwithapurpose, who won five straight races at Laurel between October and March.

“She’s going to be local, and that’s good,” Correas said. “We have been at Pimlico, preparing her for the Black-Eyed Susan, since about March 15.”

Walkwithapurpose’s win streak was broken in her last start when she finished third in the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct. Close Hatches won the race over Princess of Sylmar, who returned in her next start to win the Kentucky Oaks.

The field for the 89th running of the Black-Eyed Susan, from the rail with riders: Manuka Honey, Edgar Prado; Lady Banks, Julian Pimentel; Fiftyshadesofhay, Joel Rosario; Petit Trianon, Victor Carrasco; Walkwithapurpose; Maracuya, John Velazquez; Emollient; Toasting, Javier Castellano; and Marathon Lady, Robby Albarado.

Both Fiftyshadesofhay and Toasting will add blinkers for the Black-Eyed Susan.

The purse for this year’s race was boosted by $200,000 as part of Pimlico’s plan to raise the profile of Black-Eyed Susan Day. To that end, there will be an infield concert on the eve of the Preakness for the first time, with the Friday event headlined by the Goo Goo Dolls.

The forecast for Friday is for partly cloudy skies and a high of 76 degrees, according to weather.com. There is a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms. The Black-Eyed Susan, which has a post of 4:47 p.m., will be televised on both the NBC Sports Network and HRTV.

The Pimlico Special, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 3/16 miles, will be run as the 12th race Friday at 5:52 p.m. In addition to forming the new double with the Preakness, it also is the final leg of a $250,000-guaranteed pick four Friday that begins with the ninth race and includes the Black-Eyed Susan.

Richard’s Kid, a multiple Grade 1 winner seeking to rebound from an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs, will break from post 5 in a field of seven. He will be removing blinkers, and Rosie Napravnik has the mount for trainer Doug O’Neill. Others set to start include Last Gunfighter, a Grade 3 winner from the barn of trainer Chad Brown.

Pimlico’s card is stacked from top to bottom, opening with the $40,000 Kattegat’s Pride Starter Handicap, then rolling into the Lady Legends, an allowance in which Barbara Jo Rubin, Patricia Cooksey, and Abigail Fuller will be riding. It goes as the fourth race.

In other highlights:

• Charles Town Oaks winner Strike the Moon goes in the sixth, the $100,000 Skipat for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

• The Al Stall-trained Tread makes her stakes debut in the $100,000 Miss Preakness, a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies that goes as the eighth.

• The multiple Grade 3 winner Bridgetown meets $1.4 million earner Ben’s Cat in the ninth, the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

• A full field of 14 fillies and mares meet at five furlongs on turf in the $100,000 Very One Stakes.

• Summer of Fun, the third-place finisher in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, will attempt to nail down her first stakes win in the $100,000 Hilltop. The race closes out the card Friday.