Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) — Race 13 (5:44 p.m. ET)
Trainer Brad Cox will have some unfinished business to attend to when he sends out Adventuring in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) at Pimlico on Friday.
When the Black-Eyed Susan was last held in October, the Cox-trained Bonny South started as the odds-on favorite in the 1 1/8-mile test for three-year-old fillies, but rallied too late to catch Miss Marissa in one of the more surprising upsets in recent race history.
Adventuring, a Godolphin homebred by Pioneerof the Nile and out of the champion Questing, placed in her first two outings, including a second-place finish behind eventual graded stakes winner and Kentucky Oaks (G1) third Will’s Secret. She’s won both starts since, most recently a two-length decision over Spiritz in the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park.
“Obviously, she’s very well bred…and we’re hopeful that she’ll be able to handle the mile and an eighth. She certainly appears that she can,” Cox said. “She broke her maiden in an off-the-turf race on the dirt and performed extremely well. She was able to get the job done on the synthetic and she works well enough on the dirt to give us the confidence to try a graded stakes on the dirt.
“She had enough points to go in the Kentucky Oaks, but we thought the Black-Eyed Susan made more sense,” Cox added.
The form of the April 3 Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct, won by eventual Kentucky Oaks runner-up Search Results, will be tested when the race’s third- and fourth-place finishers, Army Wife and The Grass Is Blue, compete in the Black-Eyed Susan.
“She’s a filly we’ve always been high on. She makes a fabulous impression,” trainer Mike Maker said of Army Wife.
The Grass Is Blue, a stablemate of Search Results in the barn of Chad Brown, captured the Busanda S. over nine furlongs in January, but finished third cutting back in trip for the Busher S. and was no match in the Gazelle.
Beautiful Gift figures among the top betting choices for the embattled Bob Baffert stable after narrowly winning the Santa Ysabel (G3) two back and missing by a half-length in last month’s Santa Anita Oaks (G2). Meanwhile, Todd Pletcher seeks a record fifth win in the Black-Eyed Susan with Iced Latte, a Gulfstream graduate who tries two turns for the first time after a second-place finish against allowance foes at Belmont.
Forever Boss impressively won her dirt debut in a Keeneland allowance last out for Kenny McPeek, while Willful Woman has won two of her last three for Steve Asmussen. The local contingent is led by Weber City Miss S. winner Miss Leslie.
Miss Preakness S. (G3) — Race 10 (4:09 p.m. ET)
Steve Asmussen will go for his third win in the $150,000 Miss Preakness S. (G3) in the last five years when Abrogate breaks from the rail in the six-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies, notably won two years ago by eventual champion Covfefe.
Abrogate defeated Joyful Cadence by a half-length in the Purple Martin S. at Oaklawn Park two starts back, but retreated to fifth in the seven-furlong Eight Belles S. at Churchill Downs two weeks ago.
“It’s a little quick back, but she’ll appreciate shortening up,” assistant trainer Scott Blasi said.
The evenly-matched field includes Red Ghost, who’s won both of her starts on dirt, including a Keeneland allowance against males, for Wesley Ward. She could benefit from the abundance of speed signed on for the race, which includes Euphoric, Prodigy Doll, and six-time stakes winner Street Lute, who shortens up after weakening to third in a one-mile stakes at Laurel two months ago in what was only her second setback in nine starts.
Hilltop S. — Race 11 (4:40 p.m. ET)
Bubbles On Ice, who chased Group 1 company in Ireland last season but won on U.S. debut in the April 18 Memories of Silver S. at Aqueduct, looks the filly to beat in the $100,000 Hilltop S., a one-mile grass test for three-year-olds.
Also lining up is Seasons, a regally-bred daughter of Tapit and Winter Memories making her season debut after placing in the Natalma S. (G1) at Woodbine when last seen in September. The Graham Motion-trained Alda and Mia Martina bring decent credentials, while the maiden Tracy Flick has been disqualified in both starts to date for Shug McGaughey, but looks quick enough on paper to threaten for a share or more.