It lacks some of the prestige of the Kentucky Oaks, which partly explains why only two runners from that race have followed their male counterparts to Baltimore for the 92nd running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan. Yet their presence has not deterred the connections of the 12 other fillies entered in this race, making this an at-capacity field of 14.
The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, with the speedy duo of Midnight on Oconee (#9) and Kinsley Kisses (#10) predicted to lead the field through the opening furlongs. Midnight On Oconee possesses the speed of a front-running sprinter, but has shown some versatility in her two-turn races at the Fair Grounds this winter. Kinsley Kisses, on the other hand, is trying a route of ground for the first time after setting a fast pace going about seven furlongs in the Beaumont last time.
There’s some quality at the top, but not a lot of depth to a field that includes a couple of maidens and a handful of locally based horses that just appear to be too slow to contend. One does not have to dig too deep to figure out that the two most likely winners are the aforementioned pair exiting the Kentucky Oaks.
While Land Over Sea and Go Maggie Go were separated by only a neck at the finish of that race, they took vastly different paths to get there. Who ran the better race that day and who is the right filly to support in this Black-Eyed Susan? Let’s take an in-depth look at each of them:
Land Over Sea (#3):
This filly could kick off a very special weekend for the connections of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, who is the heavy favorite to take down the second jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday. After finally extricating herself from Songbird’s long shadow when swooping into the Fair Grounds to earn her first stakes victory, she subsequently headed into the Kentucky Oaks as one of the top contenders. While she did not encounter any significant traffic trouble, Land Over Sea was forced to race a little wide around both turns after breaking from post position 13 in a 14-horse field. That said, we felt that Mario Gutierrez did everything in his power to give her a chance. She ultimately was not good enough, but she does deserve some credit for making up ground in a race that featured a moderate early pace. This nine-furlong distance is clearly not an issue for her. She has drawn a much more favorable post position today, and a projected fast pace should work in her favor. We have no knocks against her, but we do believe that she could face a stiff challenge from the her fellow Oaks rival, Go Maggie Go.
Go Maggie Go (#5):
Sure, Land Over Sea was a little wide in the Oaks, but she had a relatively good trip thereafter. That was not the case for Maggie Go, who encountered slight trouble at multiple points in the race, the sum total of which probably cost her a runner-up finish. Things went awry right from the start, when she broke a step slowly and had to steady off Lewis Bay’s hind quarters as that one crossed over in front of her. Go Maggie Go won both of her first two starts from a relatively close-up stalking position, but that early trouble had her placed back in mid-pack, some seven lengths off the lead. After saving ground early, Luis Saez angled her off the rail as the field headed into the far turn, in hopes of moving up into contention. Unfortunately, Go Maggie Go appeared hesitant to go through a hole inside of Mo d’Amour and had to get taken up approaching the three-eighths pole. Now in behind a wall of horses, Saez was forced to angle her all the way out into the five-path approaching the stretch, at this point having let the accelerating Land Over Sea run right by him. Most inexperienced runners would have given up at this point, but Go Maggie Go unleashed a strong rally, finishing fastest of all while actually making up over a length on Land Over Sea through the final three-sixteenths. She figures to have gotten a few races worth of seasoning out of that effort, and we believe she can turn the tables on Land Over Sea today. If she does indeed go off at a larger price, as the morning line suggests, that would only increase her appeal.
The race centers around these two main contenders, but there are some others worth considering underneath:
Both of the likely pacesetters have some questions to answer. The Larry Jones-trained Midnight On Oconee (#9) looked like a potential Kentucky Oaks contender after overcoming a wide trip against an apparent rail bias to finish a good second in the Rachel Alexandra back in February. However, she totally fell apart after setting the pace in the Fair Grounds Oaks. If she returns to the form that was on display two back, she would be a superfecta possibility here, but she’s hard to trust.
Kinsley Kisses (#10) handled the step up in class fairly well in last month’s Grade 2 Beaumont after easily winning a pair of lesser races in Florida to start her career. The 111 speed figure that she earned last time makes her one of the fastest fillies in this race, but the added distance remains a question. We also feel that her Beaumont effort looks better in print than it does when watching the race. She could certainly hang on for a piece, but we believe others will offer better value.
Dothraki Queen (#2) may be helped most of all by the projected pace scenario, since she is a deep closer that is at the mercy of race flow. A great ride from Corey Lanerie earned her some valuable black type in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, but she’s yet to get back to that effort in two races since. Her Appalachian feels like purely a prep for a more serious race like this, so she figures to move forward. She’s definitely one to consider underneath in exotics.
The two maidens, Ma Can Do It (#4) and She’s a Warrior (#6), actually are not without trifecta chances themselves. Both have the right kind of running styles for this race and have earned Grade 1 stakes placings, which is more than many of their competitors can claim.
We’re less enamored of Cced (#13) and Mom’s On Strike (#14), who both drew unfavorable outside post positions in this large field. They appear to be coming into this race in good form, but their stalking running styles could force their riders to use them too strongly in the early stages as they try to clear the runners to their inside and tuck in behind the pacesetters.
The one massive long shot that we would consider throwing into our exotic wagers is Flora Dora (#12). She didn’t finish too far behind Lewis Bay and Mo d’Amour in a couple of stakes races in New York, and those fillies both ran very well in the Kentucky Oaks and would be major players in this race. It seemed as if she just didn’t handle the wet track in the Gazelle, but she has experience at this distance and has been working very strongly up at Saratoga for this race. Don’t be surprised if she completes the trifecta at a huge price.
Win: #5, Go Maggie Go, at odds of 5/2 or better
5 with 2,3,4,6,12
3 with 12
3,5 with 3,5 with 2,4,6,12
3,5 with 2,4,6,12 with 3,5
5 with 3 with 9,10,13,14