Las Setas Puts Streak on Line in 250K Black-Eyed Susan
95th Running of 3-Year-Old Filly Stakes Tops Friday, May 17 Program
BALTIMORE – Having established her local dominance with four straight wins, the last three in stakes, Maryland homebred Las Setas will face the biggest test of her young career when she faces a batch of new faces as she steps up to graded company in Friday’s $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico Race Course.
The 95th running of the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies highlights a 14-race program that includes seven stakes, four graded, worth $1.15 million in purses on the eve of the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
First-race post time Friday is 11:30 a.m. Post time for the Black-Eyed Susan, carded as Race 11, will be 4:48 p.m. NBCSN will provide national television coverage from 3 to 5 p.m.
The Black-Eyed Susan is the first half of a special 2 day Daily double – combined with the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
Black-Eyed Susan Day will include three multi-race wagers each with pools guaranteed at $300,000 – the 50-cent Late Pick 5 spanning Races 7-11 and 50-cent Pick 4s covering Races 8-11 and Races 11-14.
Trained by Katy Voss for fellow co-owners Robert Manfuso and Wayne Harrison, Las Setas is attempting to become the first Maryland-bred to win the Black-Eyed Susan since favored Calipha bested 12 rivals in 1994 for owner-breeder Mrs. James A. Bayard and Hall of Fame trainer Grover ‘Bud’ Delp.
“The water gets a lot deeper. It’s going to be a much tougher race. There are fillies in there that have run much better [speed figures] than she has, but we’ll see. She’s doing well. She hasn’t missed a beat since her last race,” Voss said. “Hopefully, she can move up a few points.”
Las Setas has done nothing wrong this year, stringing together four consecutive front-running victories by 12 ¼ lengths. She was a determined nose winner of her most recent start in the April 20 Weber City Miss at Laurel Park, earning her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan.
The Weber City Miss followed open-length triumphs in the Beyond the Wire and Wide Country, all over Our Super Freak, in a steady increase in distance from seven furlongs to about 1 1/16 miles last out, her first try around two turns.
Jevian Toledo, aboard for all five of her starts, rides back from far outside Post 9 at 120 pounds, four fewer than co-highweights Always Shopping and Cookie Dough.
“Toledo thought she might have gotten a little tired last time. We had a missed a bit of training after the previous race when I sent her to the farm, but she actually ran the same [speed] number in that race as she did in the Wide Country,” Voss said. “She actually ran a slower number in the Beyond the Wire. People think, ‘Well, she bounced in the Beyond the Wire.’ Actually, she was geared down because she didn’t have to run any faster.
“Knock on wood, she’s fine. She’s come out of each race good, and we hope that keeps going,” she added. “Looking at the numbers, Our Super Freak improved [in the Weber City Miss] rather than our filly going backward. It was her first start around two turns. She’s going to need to move forward a couple more points to be competitive in the Black-Eyed Susan.”
Las Setas, whose name is Spanish for mushrooms, has had two sharp works for the Black-Eyed Susan, going six furlongs in 1:11.60 May 10 in her most recent move. Prior to that, she went a half-mile in 48 seconds May 4, second-fastest of 56 horses at the distance.
“She’s a pretty easy-going filly as far as training. She’s nice to gallop. She doesn’t try to run off. She doesn’t do a lot of stupid stuff,” Voss said. “We always thought she was really nice, but things normally work out that well. You’re just trying to keep them sound and everything.
“She ran really green first time out. I think her first two races helped her,” she added. “She’s always shown an awful lot of talent. The other day when she worked in 48 flat, she just looked like she’s just kind of cruising along. She isn’t being asked. She picked it up on her own a little bit in the lane.”
Among the newcomers are a pair of fillies from four-time Black-Eyed Susan-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, Always Shopping and Off Topic. Repole Stable’s Always Shopping is unbeaten in two starts this year, both in 1 1/8-mile stakes at Aqueduct, the latter coming in the Gazelle (G2) in her graded debut. Manny Franco, up for both wins, gets the return call from Post 6.
“This seems like a natural progression for her,” Pletcher said. “She’s improved each spot, and two turns and 1 1/8 miles seems to suit her well. Everything has gone well for her since the Gazelle.”
Paul Pompa Jr.’s Off Topic will have Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons from Post 2. The daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense finished third, beaten two lengths by her stablemate in the Gazelle, her first try both in stakes and at the distance.
“I was pleased with her effort, but she’s one that is still putting all her potential together,” Pletcher said. “She broke better in the Gazelle than she had and put herself in a tractable position. She still has not run to her full potential.”
Pletcher, winner of a record seven Eclipse Awards as leading trainer, won the Black-Eyed Susan with Stopchargingmaria (2014), In Lingerie (2012), Panty Raid (2007) and Spun Sugar (2005).
Cookie Dough and Point of Honor, two horses that didn’t get into the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (G1), will take their shot in the Black-Eyed Susan. Arindel’s Cookie Dough swept the final two legs of the Florida Sire Series for juvenile fillies last fall, but missed a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup due to illness. She returned March 2 to finish second in the Davona Dale (G2) and was third by 1 ¼ lengths after setting the pace in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) March 30, both at Gulfstream Park.
Reigning Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride for the first time from Post 4.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing’s Point of Honor, a chestnut daughter of two-time Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Curlin, broke her maiden at first asking in mid-December at Gulfstream, then came back with a 2 ¾-length triumph in the one-mile, 40-yard Suncoast Stakes Feb. 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.
In her most recent effort, Point of Honor was fourth in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, beaten less than a length by Cookie Dough and two lengths overall. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride from Post 8.
“The track was playing like a conveyor belt that day and she seemed a little different than she was at Tampa … but she ran well,” Weaver said. “We were just in a holding pattern until we could get her a race. She breezed once at Churchill and breezed well and we breezed her a couple days ago at Belmont and she did well there, too, so all systems are go.
“She’s been doing great. We wouldn’t have gone to the Kentucky Oaks if we didn’t think she was doing real well, and when we didn’t get in the logical next step was to run in the Black-Eyed Susan,” he added. “It’s a prestigious race on the tour for 3-year-old fillies, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Jagger Inc.’s Our Super Freak will try again for owner-trainer Jamie Ness, who has won with seven of his first 11 starters at the current Preakness Meet at Pimlico which began May 2. Our Super Freak has run second or third in five straight races, all stakes, the last three behind Las Setas.
Our Super Freak was second to Congrats Gal in the Smart Halo Nov. 10 and third to Pimlico-based Please Flatter Me in the Gin Talking Dec. 29 – both winners are entered in the $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3) on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard.
“It would be a great race to win. It would be great for her value down the road, being a mother, and just for her,” Ness said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve realized a lot of things can happen so sometimes you’ve got to be in it to win it.
“She’s just been consistent, she keeps trying hard. She’s a grinder, and sometimes that’s all you need to catch a break,” he added. “She dances every dance and there’s no reason why she won’t this time either, unless the competition is too tough.”
Jockey Trevor McCarthy has the assignment from Post 5.
Cheyenne Stables’ Ulele will be making her stakes debut in the Black-Eyed Susan for trainer Brad Cox. The Candy Ride filly has won two of three starts this year, and exits a gate-to-wire optional claiming allowance score April 4 at Keeneland over High Regard, who returned to win a similar spot in her subsequent start.
“This is good spacing between that race and the Black-Eyed Susan, and she’s trained extremely well at Churchill,” Cox said. “She deserves the opportunity to step up against these horses.”
Joel Rosario rides Ulele from Post 3.
Completing the field are OXO Equine’s Grade 1-placed Brill, a $1 million yearling of 2017 who was third in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy (G3) last out April 12 at Oaklawn Park; and River Bend Farm’s Sweet Diane, third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) March 23 and Suncoast Stakes, the latter behind Point of Honor.
Field of 14 Entered for Historic 300K Pimlico Special
Pletcher Pair Aim to Give Trainer Third Career Special Win. Race Marks Return of Tenfold, Third in 2018 Preakness, to Pimlico
BALTIMORE – The historic $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3), lengthened this year to 1 ¼ miles for the first time in history, drew the biggest field since its revival in 1988 as 14 were entered for Friday’s race at Pimlico Race Course.
The 49th running of the Pimlico Special, on the eve of the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1), is one of seven stakes races on the 14-race card, highlighted by the 95th running of the $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan (G2). Also on tap are the $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3), $150,000 Caplan Brothers Glass Allaire duPont Distaff (G3), $100,000 Maker’s Mark Hilltop, $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint and $100,000 Fidelity First and Blackwell Real Estate Skipat.
Friday’s 14-race program drew 164 entries.
Not since Blushing John beat 11 in the 1989 edition have more than 10 horses entered the Special, which had been contested at 1 3/16 miles ever since War Admiral won the first iteration in 1937. The next year, it was host to the match race between the Triple Crown winner and Seabiscuit, which Seabiscuit famously won.
Because of the configuration of the one-mile oval at Pimlico, 10-furlong races are a rarity. Indeed, the track record for the distance was set back in 1988 by Mazotti, who covered 1 ¼ miles in 2:01 4/5.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1 ¼-mile race at Pimlico,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who took back-to-back editions of the Special with Revolutionary and Commissioner in 2014 and 2015 and has entered the duo of You’re to Blame and Rally Cry.
“Not every horse can get 1 ¼ miles,” he added. “You need to get a good run to establish a good position, and get into a comfortable rhythm. I think it plays to [my horses’] strengths.”
The Special will be the second start off a layoff for Rally Cry and You’re to Blame, stakes winners both. A 6-year-old son of Uncle Mo, Rally Cry enters off a fourth-place finish in the Charles Town Classic (G3). The Paul Pompa Jr. color-bearer was lightly campaigned in 2018, finishing fourth in both the Woodward (G1) and an optional claimer, having won his first stakes the previous year with an 8 3/4-length score in the Alydar at Saratoga Race Course.
You’re to Blame, owned by Bortolazzo Stable, kicked off his 5-year-old season with an optional claiming victory at Gulfstream Park on the heels of a successful year that included a victory in the 1 5/8-mile Greenwood Cup (G3), along with a second-place effort in the 1 ½-mile Temperence Hill at Belmont Park.
“Rally Cry has been impressive in the way he trains,” said Pletcher. “I think [his win in the 2017] Alydar was a breakout race for him. You’re to Blame has had success at the longer distances, and I think the extra distance on Friday will be a factor.”
Rally Cry drew post position 2 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, while You’re to Blame, with Jose Ortiz, will leave from post 13.
Tenfold, who delighted Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen with his close-up, third-place finish behind Triple Crown winner Justify in last year’s Preakness, will be making his third start of 2019 in the Special. The son of Curlin was the beaten favorite in both his debut in March at the Fair Grounds, in which he was fourth, and in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in April.
Ricardo Santana Jr. rides from post position 8.
Stronach Stable Inc. will be represented by homebred Unbridled Juan, who finished seventh in the Charles Town Classic at 22-1 in his 2019 debut.
“He came out of Saturday’s work [four furlongs in 48.60 seconds at Laurel Park] really good,” said Corrales of Unbridled Juan, who sports a career record of 7-9-9 from 30 starts. “This horse, he likes to finish second or third, but I hope he proves me wrong.”
Unbridled Juan will carry Alex Cintron when he leaves from post 9. Corrales also will saddle Bobby G, who has the services of Trevor McCarthy from post 10.
Trainer Mark Hennig, who won the 2005 Pimlico Special with Eddington, returns with Courtlandt Farms’ Carlino, making his first start as a 5-year-old. The gelded son of Lemon Drop Kid closed out his 2018 campaign making up considerable ground to finish fourth at odds of 69-1 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park and is in search of his first stakes win.
“He was fourth …behind some pretty nice horses that day,” said Hennig. “Thunder Snow was in there and a couple others that are pretty solid horses. It was a good effort that day. He came out of that and had a little chip in a knee that we took out. Since he’s come back he’s been doing great.”
Carlino leaves from Post 4 under Manny Franco.
Rounding out the field, from the rail out, are veteran marathoner War Story, third in the Charles Town Classic last time out; Flying the Flag, making his stakes debut for last year’s winning trainer, Graham Motion; Heavy Roller, winner of three of four 2019 starts for trainer Joe Sharp; Laurel Park stalwart Cordmaker, stretching out past 1 1/8 miles for the first time; Just Whistle, most recently fourth in the Ben Ali (G3); Flameaway, sixth in the Ben Ali; Wait for It, winner of an allowance at Parx Racing; and Clubman, winner of three of his four 2019 starts including the Russell Road at Charles Town last time out.
Covfefe Looking to Make the Grade in 150K Miss Preakness
Daughters of 2007 Preakness Winner Curlin Among duPont (G3) Contenders
BALTIMORE – Trainer Brad Cox has Owendale and Warrior’s Charge running in Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes (G1). First, he hopes to kick-start a potentially huge weekend Friday at Pimlico Race Course with Covfefe in the $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3) and Mylady Curlin in the $150,000 Caplan Brothers Glass Allaire duPont Distaff (G3).
LNJ Foxwoods’ Covfefe is two-for-three, the only defeat a fourth-place finish last fall in Belmont Park’s Frizette (G1) at a mile won by champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk. In her only start this year, Covfefe led all the way to take a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Keeneland.
“Fast filly,” Cox said of the daughter of Into Mischief. “She was actually favored in the Frizette last year against Jaywalk. She came out of that race with a mild setback. We gave her the winter off, and she returned at Keeneland and ran extremely fast.
“She’s had plenty of time since that race. I think if she can put a race similar to that, she’s going to be competitive,” he added. “She’s got a big pedigree and hopefully we can get her some graded black type and hopefully a win. She’s got to move forward. She’s not very seasoned, has only run three times. But she’s training extremely well and we’ve always thought a lot of her.”
Three-year-old fillies from all over converge in the six-furlong Miss Preakness as trainers seek a graded sprint stakes that keeps their horses against their own age.
But, local horsemen figure to be thick in the fray. One of the horses to beat could be the Cal Lynch-trained Congrats Gal, who has yet to lose in Maryland, with three Laurel Park victories by a combined 27 1/2 lengths. In two other starts she was third in last summer’s Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga and second in a 5 ½-furlong stakes at Delaware.
Michael Trombetta, who also has Win Win Win in the Preakness, will saddle the Maryland-bred Never Enough Time, who won her only two starts by more than five lengths each at Laurel.
“I realize that could be the deep end of the pool, but I’m backed into a corner,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of choices for her. She’s graduated very quickly. We’ve always liked her. We thought she was way above par. But to run in two races, and now all of a sudden there’s nowhere to go but there. She’s worked well, so we’ll give her a shot and see what she’s all about.”
Mark Reid-trained Pennsylvania-bred Please Flatter Me is stabled at Pimlico and won her first three starts with ease while sprinting, including stakes at Penn National and Laurel. In her last start, Please Flatter Me finished a close fourth in Aqueduct’s $250,00 Busher Stakes at a mile.
Bob Baffert, trainer of expected Preakness favorite Improbable, is bringing along 2-for-2 Fighting Mad, winner of a Churchill Downs allowance race on April 30. Like the disqualified Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Maximum Security, Fighting Mad is owned by Gary and Mary West and is by their 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner New Year’s Day, who was sold as a stallion to Brazil this year.
The Louisiana-bred Midnight Fantasy ran out of sprint stakes in her birth state, with trainer Joe Sharp successfully shipping her to Mahoning Valley in northeastern Ohio for a five-length victory in a $75,000 stakes.
“She’s undefeated going three-quarters,” Sharp said. “We were kind of railroaded into some route races down in Louisiana, because that’s all they had for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds at the end of the meet, so we had to go two turns – obviously not her forte.
“We shipped her to Mahoning Valley. She went down there in 1:10 and change, which is flying over that track, and won going away,” he added. “It’s a little unorthodox way to get to Pimlico, but I think her numbers stack up. I’m confident in her, especially going three-quarters. She’s just really fast.”
Trainer Ron Moquett comes with Bye Bye J, an Arkansas-bred who won Oaklawn’s Rainbow Miss in her last start and who earlier this winter was a close second in Gulfstream Park’s Forward Gal (G2).
“We bought her after she ran in the Forward Gal,” said owner Alex Lieblong, who will have the Steve Asmussen-trained Laughing Fox in the Preakness. “She won and she was an Arkansas-bred, and she’s a gorgeous filly. It made sense to run in some stakes there in Arkansas and an allowance race there in Arkansas, so we kind of clipped a few coupons with her doing that. She’s a nice, nice filly and she’s gotten bigger and stronger.”
Also entered are Sue’s Fortune, winner of Saratoga’s Adirondack (G2) but making her first start in more than seven months; Brunette Princess, the Gustavo Delgado-trained stablemate of Preakness candidate Bodexpress and who won the Any Limit Stakes at Gulfstream Park in a dead heat in her last start; graded stakes-placed Tomlin; Turfway Park stakes-winner Iva; Miss Imperial, runner-up in back-to-back stakes at Aqueduct; and Evangeline Downs allowance winner Best Kept Secret.