By Gene Kershner
BALTIMORE, Md. -- Fiftyshadesofhay ($6.60) won the 89th running of the Grade 2 $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for trainer Bob Baffert edging out Marathon Lady by a neck. The Pulpit filly put blinkers back on for the first time since her first three maiden races to win the feature race on the Preakness eve undercard.
Trainer Bob Baffert won his third Black-Eyed Susan, winning the race in 2004 (Yearly Report) and 1999 (Silverbulletday). The win sets the stage for a big weekend for Baffert as he will try to win his sixth Preakness tomorrow with Govenor Charlie, whose second dam just so happens to be Silverbulletday. To win tomorrow though he'll have to defeat the jockey who won the Susan for him today.
Red hot jockey Joel Rosario gave Baffert some cause for concern when he wasn't up near the lead during the early stages of the race. "I wasn't sure turning for home because I told Rosario that she usually runs 1-2-3, but ride her the way you feel you should ride her. Rosario sort of did his own thing today, but it was the right thing," said the white-haired conditioner.
Rosario sat chilly and had her make the late run right around the three-eighths pole. "She kind of got away from me a little bit at that point, I was kind of worried about it, but she was able to get it back together and kept going," said Rosario who will ride Orb tomorrow in the Preakness. "When I passed the sixteenth-pole I could see that the horse in front of me was backing up a little."
Emollient, the 4-5 favorite, stumbled out of the gate and never threatened under jockey Mike Smith. "She stumbled out of the gate real bad, and she caught her leg. It was pretty much over for us after that," said the Hall of Fame jockey.
Third-place finisher Toasting ($5.40 to show) ran a solid race for West Point Thoroughbreds. Terry Finley, managing partner was pleased with her efforts. "She closed strong and Javier [Castellano] was very pleased with the way she responded down the stretch," said Finley. He will likely point her towards Saratoga next as she progresses in her 3-year-old campaign.
Fiftyshadesofgray finished the 1 1/8-miles in 1:52.73 and the $2 exacta with Marathon Lady paid $54.00. The $2 trifecta paid $333.40.