Race of the Week: Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Lead:
The fillies' version of the Preakness Stakes shifts to Saturday's undercard at Pimlico from its traditional Friday perch. The 1-1/8 miles Black-Eyed Susan will be Race 10 of 12, and immediately precede the Preakness on NBC's national telecast. It's a race whose storied history dates back to 1919 and boasts contemporary superstars Serena's Song, Silverbulletday and Royal Delta among its honor roll of winners.

Field Depth:
PERFECT ALIBI was a G1 and G2 winner as a juvenile last year. BONNY SOUTH has a victory at the G2 level and a G1 runner-up on her resume. Those two certainly have the class edge. PROJECT WHISKEY and HOPEFUL GROWTH have won G3 races. The rest are looking for signature victories.

MIZZEN BEAU, MISS MARISSA and LANDING ZONE all should show early foot from outer post positions, while PROJECT WHISKEY could be injected into the early mix from the rail and with pace versatility. It looks like a fair pace that should give all styles a chance to show their best.

Our Eyes:
Morning line favorite BONNY SOUTH has faced the tops of this division, and her spring victory in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks annually is one of the more telling 3-year-old filly races. She's part of a fantastic fleet of sophomore gals for trainer Brad Cox, which also includes Kentucky Oaks heroine Shedaresthedevil and reigning 2YO champ British Idiom (sidelined since May). BONNY SOUTH is a strong finisher who will relish the 1-1/8 miles here when others may struggle with it. After chasing the likes of Swiss Skydiver, Speech, Venetian Harbor and recent Remington Park Oaks winner Envoutante, this should be an assignment she appreciates.

PERFECT ALIBI was brilliant early, but hasn't lived up to the bar she set sprinting in her first 4 starts. The Mark Casse trainee bombed in her first 2 starts this year and found some life in the local prep across the beltway at Laurel Park when third in the Weber City Miss Stakes. Trainer Mark Casse had a huge Preakness Week in 2019 that culminated in War of Will's victory in the headliner. He'll add blinkers and speed jockey Paco Lopez to the mix here, and from post 11, PERFECT ALIBI should be much closer to the pace than usual. But 9 furlongs from that draw is no easy task.

HOPEFUL GROWTH and PROJECT WHISKEY ran 1-2 in the Monmouth Oaks with the former handling business with ease by 4 lengths. But PROJECT WHISKEY easily bested her rival in the race prior, the Delaware Oaks. Both since have laid an egg with double-digit length defeats in the Kentucky Oaks and Weber City Miss. Their hot and cold resumes are difficult to trust, but if you're in either camp, just be sure to get a fair price. PROJECT WHISKEY is about double the morning line price of HOPEFUL GROWTH. Meanwhile, DREAM MARIE has nibbled in major stakes trying to find the right spot, but she's failed to deliver in those 7 bids. She's not too far off past rivals HOPEFUL GROWTH and PROJECT WHISKEY, and another that demands a square price.

MIZZEN BEAU and TRUTH HURTS exit a 1-2 finish in Woodbine's Bison City on synthetic against Canadian-bred runners. But that race was seriously impacted in quality when the Woodbine Oaks winner instead opted to run in the Queen's Plate against the boys. Expect MIZZEN BEAU to be ridden on or near the lead by Brian Hernandez Jr. as he warms up for his pace-playing Preakness mount aboard Art Collector. Back on dirt, I prefer TRUTH HURTS among this pair.

LANDING ZONE and SO DARN NOT ran 1-2 in a recent Delaware allowance. The former is an ex-claimer who has gotten good of late for leading local trainer Claudio Gonzalez. But her style and pedigree suggest 9F is too far. SO DARN HOT, however, has a classic-distance genepool by Ghostzapper out of a Tiznow mare. Finally, SHARP STAR got a big 104 BRIS late pace figure in her runner-up in Saratoga's Fleet Indian vs. NY-breds.

Most Certain Exotics Contender: BONNY SOUTH is 6-for-6 in the superfecta and the class of this field.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender: SO DARN HOT has a pedigree for the trip, is improving and her trainer George Weaver saddled last year's Black-Eyed Susan winner Point of Honor, who also was lightly raced at the time.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $25 exacta BONNY SOUTH with SO DARN HOT. $75 daily double BONNY SOUTH to Preakness top choice AUTHENTIC.