05/12/2004 12:00AM

Yearly Report at short odds


BALTIMORE - Coming just two weeks after the Kentucky Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes has lost some of its luster in recent years, probably because of the timing of the race. Most horsemen have grown reluctant to wheel back a top horse on such relatively short rest, and with the Oaks remaining the preeminent classic for 3-year-old fillies, the has been adversely affected.

Nonetheless, some awfully good fillies still occasionally show up for the Grade 2 race, and trainer Bob Baffert is hoping Yearly Report is one of those. Baffert, who won the Black-Eyed Susan five years ago with Oaks winner and eventual champion Silverbulletday, wanted to run Yearly Report in the Oaks, but because her training was compromised in late March by a bout with cramps, Baffert had to rework her racing schedule.

"I had her ready to run in El Paso," said Baffert, referring to the March 27 WinStar Sunland Park Oaks in New Mexico. "But she tied up on me, and that set us back. I really thought she could be an Oaks filly. She's a good horse. But we pulled back a little bit and looked for a better spot, and this looks like it could be one."

Yearly Report, by General Meeting, was bred and is owned in California by Golden Eagle Farm. She has lost just once in four career starts, having finished second to the highly regarded Silent Sighs in her second start in December. In her third start, the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Jan. 19, Yearly Report was a four-length winner over House of Fortune, who came back nine weeks later to win the Grade 2 Fantasy as the odds-on favorite. Then, after missing the WinStar Oaks, Yearly Report was a very easy winner of the April 24 Melair on Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park.

Those solid credentials seem likely to make Yearly Report a heavy favorite Friday in the 80th running of the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan, a 1 1/8-mile race that directly precedes the Pimlico Special as the 10th of 12 races. Jerry Bailey has the call on Yearly Report, who will break from post 6 in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies.

Among the opposition, the strongest challengers could be Song Track, a sharp winner of a Keeneland allowance last month; Pawyne Princess, narrowly beaten when she ran against males in the recent Tesio Stakes at Pimlico; and Menifeeque, the Florida Oaks runner-up.

The rest of the field is Pilfer, America America, Rare Gift, and Native Annie.

Besides Silverbulletday, other notable recent winners of the Black-Eyed Susan include champion Serena's Song (1995), Jostle (2000), and Roar Emotion (2003). Jostle was trained by John Servis, trainer of Preakness favorite Smarty Jones.

The Black-Eyed Susan is the second jewel of the so-called traditional filly triple crown, sandwiched between the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks.