By Joe Bianca
In contrast to its Churchill counterpart GI Kentucky Oaks, which featured two clear favorites, Friday’s GII Black-Eyed Susan S. at Pimlico appears a wide-open affair, with hardly a toss among the 10 sophomore fillies entered.
It’s anyone’s guess as to who the public’s choice will be by post time, but the slight morning-line nod was given to Roddy Valente, RAP Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Coach Rocks (Oxbow), incidentally the only filly to return in two weeks after running in the Oaks. The $95,000 Fasig-Tipton March buy parlayed an eight-length maiden score Feb. 14 at Gulfstream into a victory in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks Mar. 31, but could make no impact when finishing a well-beaten seventh underneath the Twin Spires. Trainer Dale Romans is looking for his third Black-Eyed Susan triumph in four years, having taken the 2015 running with upsetter Keen Pauline (Pulpit) and the 2016 renewal with the more fancied Go Maggie Go (Ghostzapper).
William and Devin Wilmot and Joan Taylor’s Midnight Disguise (Midnight Lute) appeared well on her way to an Oaks bid after taking both the Busanda S. and Busher S. in convincing fashion over the winter at Aqueduct, but those plans went up in smoke after the homebred finished a distant fourth as the favorite in the GII Gazelle S. there Apr. 7. She returns with a pair of sharp breezes in New York, including a bullet five-furlong spin in 1:01 1/5 (1/13) May 9 at Belmont.
Second in both the Gazelle and the Busher was Godolphin’s Sara Street (Street Sense). The dark bay produced the top Beyer in this field in the former effort, earning a 91 in a hard-fought half-length defeat to My Miss Lilly (Tapit), who subsequently disappointed when 11th in the Oaks.
The top local hope appears to be Kasey K Racing Stable, Final Turn Racing Stable and Michael Day’s unbeaten Goodonehoney (Great Notion). Debuting while protected in a $40,000 maiden claimer Mar. 24 at Laurel, the Maryland-bred ran away to an impressive 4 3/4-length tally, and she repeated emphatically with a seven-length romp in the Weber City Miss S. stretching out to two turns there Apr. 21. The runner-up that day, Robert Hahn’s Indy Union (Union Rags), is worth glancing at as a longshot off of that effort, as she appeared well on her way to a last-place finish on the far turn before improbably re-rallying in the stretch to get up for the place.
Sandra Sexton and Brandi and Steven Nicholson’s Red Ruby (Tiznow) looks to rebound off a disappointing fourth at odds-on in the GIII Honeybee S. Mar. 10 at Oaklawn. Prior to that, the gray notched a convincing tally in the sloppy-track Martha Washington S. Feb. 10 in Hot Springs.