05/12/2010 11:00PM

Seeking the Title gets a shot


BALTIMORE - A lack of graded stakes earnings kept Seeking the Title out of the prestigious Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. It might have been a blessing in disguise.

With only three starts under her belt, Seeking the Title may have lacked the necessary experience to compete with a full field of more seasoned fillies such as Blind Luck and Evening Jewel, who were separated by a nose at the wire of the Oaks.

"Those were two very nice fillies that were one-two," said Dallas Stewart, trainer of Seeking the Title. "I don't know if we could've outrun those two."

Seeking the Title had no trouble cracking the lineup for Friday's Grade 2, $175,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, which drew a field of nine 3-year-old fillies, including Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Tidal Pool. Without the likes of Blind Luck and Evening Jewel in the field, Seeking the Title may have found the right spot to capture her first stakes victory.

The Black-Eyed Susan is the highlight of a 13-race card that includes five other stakes races. The Black-Eyed Susan, which goes as race 12 (5:50 p.m. Eastern), is the first leg of a daily-double wager with Saturday's $1 million Preakness. The wager is a $2 minimum.

Friday's card, which begins at 12:15 p.m., also includes the Jockey Challenge, featuring eight riders competing for $50,000 in prize money. Fans can wager on who will win - Kent Desormeaux is back to defend his title from 2009. Additionally, the fourth race on the card features eight retired female riders in the Legends for the Cure race.

Seeking the Title, a daughter of Seeking the Gold, jumped from a 6 1/2-length maiden win into the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, where she came with a strong late kick under Kent Desormeaux but was still beaten three-quarters of a length by Quiet Temper. Seeking the Title dead-heated for third with Sheer Beauty.

"She was second to last turning for home, finished up good, and trained well since," Stewart said. "Kent thought he was back a little far; maybe he didn't know her that well. Now he knows her."

Seeking the Title, who breaks from post 2, could benefit from a contested pace in the Black-Eyed Susan. Figuring to be forwardly placed are Harissa, who pressed a strong pace while winning the Sunland Park Oaks in her dirt debut; Tidal Pool, who set the pace in the Kentucky Oaks; and perhaps Khancrod Kid or Patriot Miss.

Tidal Pool is the only member of the Kentucky Oaks field who is back in the Black-Eyed Susan. Tidal Pool finished second to Blind Luck in the Fantasy at Oaklawn before running third to her in the Kentucky Oaks.

"I thought we could have beaten Blind Luck in the Fantasy if we'd been a little tighter," said D. Wayne Lukas, the trainer of Tidal Pool. "I thought we were better in the Oaks and yet Blind Luck stepped up in the Oaks, too.''

Calvin Borel rides Tidal Pool from post 6.

No Such Word beat the highly regarded Beautician in the Grade 3 Honeybee, but finished third behind Blind Luck and Tidal Pool in the Grade 2 Fantasy, a four-horse field that lacked pace.

"With nine horses in there, you'd think there's going be some speed in there for her," said Cindy Jones, who was the assistant to her husband, Larry, when they won last year's Black-Eyed Susan with Payton d'Oro.

Diva Delite won five consecutive dirt races, including the Grade 3 Florida Oaks, before being purchased privately by Cloverleaf Farms and turned over to trainer Ian Wilkes. Diva Delite finished third last out in the Grade 2 Beaumont, a seven-furlong race that was run over Keeneland's synthetic surface. The return to dirt and two turns could make her a factor in this race. Julien Leparoux rides.

Completing the field are C.C.'s Pal, second to Diva Delite in the Florida Oaks, Acting Happy, and Patriot Miss.