Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Black-Eyed Susan contender Corposo and trainer Peter Eurton | Sara Gordon

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Baltimore, MD-All eyes turn to Baltimore this weekend where Pimlico features an eight-race graded showcase, beginning with Friday's GII George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan S. card, featuring 3-year-old fillies.

Installed the 5-2 morning line favorite for the nine-furlong test, Madaket Stables and Slam Dunk Racing's Corposo (Vino Rosso) ran an even race in the Apr. 6 Santa Anita Oaks, but could only finish third, beaten eighth lengths, by Nothing Like You (Malibu Moon).

“I don't think she's going to cry about the distance too much, at least that's what her jocks are always telling me,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “From the time I've had with her, everything's been pretty straightforward with her. She's got a great mind. She's a solid filly, a good 1,100 pounds or better. Nothing seems to bother her at all. I've never really seen her sweat too much, either. It's good.”

Several of the feature's contenders will attempt to improve on subpar performances last time out, including Aaron Sones and Julie Gilbert's Lemon Muffin (Collected), the sole filly to have contested the GI Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the GIII Honeybee S. winner will try to improve upon an eighth-place finish behind winner Thorpedo Anna (Fast Anna) in the Oaks.

Lukas, who has had the most Black-Eyed Susan starters since 1976 with 18, is tied with former protégé and fellow Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher for the most wins with four.

“She has her days when she's up and down and everything. On her best day, she's a very, very nice filly,” said Lukas, whose most recent winner of the race was Serena's Song in 1995. “But she doesn't always show up every time, so we're hoping that we get one of those days when she does.”

Also looking for some measure of redemption, Sunland Park Oaks scorer Recharge (Gun Runner) makes her first start since a fading fifth behind Thorpedo Anna in Oaklawn's GII Fantasy S. at Oaklawn Mar. 30. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the Winchell homebred won her first three starts, including an impressive nine-length victory in her Remington unveiling Dec. 14.

Courtlandt Farms' Whocouldaskformo (Uncle Mo) will get an equipment change for her return. A $450,000 Keeneland September purchase, she finished fourth most recently in the Apr. 6 GIII Gazelle S. at Aqueduct, also going nine furlongs.

“Johnny [Velazquez] rode her the last time and he said at the half-mile pole we were right there and she just kind of got lost after that and finished fourth,” said Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, winner of the 1996 Black-Eyed Susan with Mesabi Maiden. “So we put the blinkers on her. She breezed a couple of times in them, and we'll see what happens. I hope it keeps her a little more focused and maybe a little more aggressive when the time comes.”

Whocouldaskformo ran an even fifth in her prior start, the one-mile GII Davona Dale S. Mar. 2 at Gulfstream, which came three weeks after her runner-up finish in the Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs.

“I like that it's two turns going to a mile and an eighth,” McGaughey added. “I ran her a mile in the Davona Dale and it didn't work, so I was looking for a long race. That's why I sent her up for the Gazelle. The allowance races were only going a mile, and that's one turn at Aqueduct. I thought this would be a good spot, and I think it is a good spot. She's 6-1 on the morning line, so it isn't a bad spot.”

Breaking from post 6, she will be ridden by Luis Saez.

Friday's undercard is highlighted by a pair of Grade III tests–the Pimlico Special S. and the Miss Preakness S. The former is led, at least on paper, by morning-line favorite Kingsbarns (Uncle Mo), winner of his two latest starts including the Apr. 20 GIII Ben Ali S. The $800,000 Fasig-Tipton juvenile purchase also won last term's GII Louisiana Derby. A seemingly more competitive affair, the Miss Preakness features Youalmosthadme (Oxbow), victorious in a pair of sprint stakes late last season. Tiring to third in her seasonal debut in the seven-panel GII Beaumont S. at Keeneland Apr. 7, the Brad Cox trainee cuts back to six panels here. Tyler Gaffalione returns to ride.

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