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Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Odds & Preview: Bob Baffert’s Beautiful Gift Favored in Wide-Open Affair

Dave F.

by Dave F. in Horse Racing

May 13, 2021 · 7:00 AM PDT

Black-Eyed Susan Stakes
Pimlico Race Course is visible ahead of the Preakness Stakes horse race, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is Maryland’s version of the Kentucky Oaks
  • Beautiful Gift is the favorite, but virtually the entire field is viable
  • How should you bet the 97th running of The Second Jewel of the Filly Triple Crown?

Unless you have been hiding under a rock the controversy surrounding Medina Spirit’s win and subsequent failure of a drug test in the Kentucky Derby will cloud this weekend’s Preakness Stakes celebration.

Regardless, there are terrific cards slated for this weekend at the venerable Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The feature on Friday is the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Trainer Bob Baffert featured prominently in the Derby scandal, saddles the favorite Beautiful Gift.

While Beautiful Gift has hit the board in all four of her starts and won twice, she has faced just nine total rivals in her last three races. The Black-Eyed Susan is a strong betting race because there are a handful of possibilities, several at decent prices.

Let’s look closely at Friday’s main event, and briefly consider several of the undercard races on an action-packed and high-level day of racing in the Mid-Atlantic.

2021 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Odds

Horse Odds at Bet365
Beautiful Gift +250
Adventuring +400
Army’s Wife +600
The Grass Is Blue +600
Iced Latte +800
Willful Woman +1200
Forever Boss +1200
Lady Traveler +1400
Miss Leslie +1400
Spritz +2000

Odds as of May 13

The mile-and-an-eighth Black-Eyed Susan will get underway at 5:44pm EST Friday. NBC Sports Network has television coverage. The purse is $250,000.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who conditions Iced Latte, is seeking his record-setting fifth Black-Eyed Susan victory. If Beautiful Gift prospers it will give Baffert his fourth win in the race.

Jockey John Velazquez, who rides Beautiful Gift, is seeking his record-setting fifth triumph in this event. Javier Castellano, aboard Lady Traveler, is angling for his fourth victory in the Black-Eyed Susan.

Favorite

Beautiful Gift has posted the top two Beyer Speed Figures in the race and is coming off of a narrow second-place finish in a Grade 2 event on April 3. She is the only horse in the field with a graded stakes victory.

Finishing first and second in graded stakes is impressive, but each race had fields of just four horses. She broke her maiden against only three rivals too. She should be forwardly placed, a tactic that worked well for Baffert and Velazquez in the Kentucky Derby.

Contenders

Never having entered a dirt race is a strange approach to trying this Grade 2 event. That said three times Adventuring has run on wet dirt because of races taken off the turf due to inclement weather. Last time out he stormed home on a synthetic surface.

Adventuring beat Spritz and Forever Boss who are in this event. He has two wins in four starts and is trained by the reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox.

Army Wife has been vastly improved in 2021. Last year she began her career with three mediocre runs on the turf. After breaking her maiden in her dirt debut in October, she finished second in a mile dirt race in November. She won an optional claiming event in March, and returned to finish a troubled third in a Grade 3 event in April.

While she was almost stopped down the stretch running against much better horses last time out, it didn’t seem like Army Wife was going to do better than third place. Now she gets lesser competition, and her four dirt efforts are all solid.

The Grass Is Blue finished just behind Army Wife in The Gazelle. She also was badly beaten by Search Results in her previous race. That isn’t a crime. Search Results nearly won the Kentucky Oaks. Chad Brown is an excellent trainer, but The Grass Is Blue is a pretty cheap horse and is facing tougher foes than she has beaten.

Iced Latte has only run three times but she has improved each time, is trained by Pletcher, and was a pricey purchase for top owner Mike Repole. She has never tried a two-turn race and seemed to be running out of gas last time out when finishing second in an optional claiming event at a-mile-and-a-sixteenth.

Longshots

Trainer Dale Romans has won this race twice and has Lady Traveler working quickly as he seeks a third victory. She was a significant longshot running against the top competition last time out.

Switching to Castellano could be a benefit for Lady Traveler. She needs a fast pace because her style is all about making one big run late in the race.

Willful Woman could also use a hot tempo. Rain would be even better for her. She has two wins in five starts and both victories are on off tracks. She powered home last time in the slop at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. A $400,000 purchase, she’ll be rolling late and given fast fractions or a wet surface will be dangerous.

Black-Eyed Susan Best Bet

With questions about every contender, this race is all about value. The top choices make sense but are vulnerable, and a price is very possible.

Iced Latte is the type of horse that is intriguing. She is lacking experience and may still be too green, but has the talent and at some point is going to be good.

The bottom line is we don’t find big longshots that have legitimate chances all that often. Lady Traveler has great connections, was expensive out of the breeding shed, and has been facing strong competition. Sure she has just one win in seven races. The price is right.

Pick: Lady Traveler (+1400)

Friday’s Other Graded Stakes Races

Three Grade 3 events will be run between 3:00 pm and the feature event. Here is a quick guide to that trio of races.

Allaire du Pont Distaff

Like the Black-Eyed Susan, this is a competitive mile-and-an-eighth dirt stakes for fillies and mares. Horologist is the very tepid favorite. She won her 2021 debut in April.

Horologist ran against the best in her division last year and won twice in eight starts. In a race where nobody else has earned more than $438,000, she has made $770,000. She typically runs her best at Monmouth Park.

Spice is Nice cost more than $1 million and is trained by Pletcher. A lightly raced four-year-old, she has never won a stakes race but looked great in her seasonal debut in an optional claiming event at Keeneland in April.

Cox sends out Dreamalildreamofu and Getridofwhatailesu. The former has four wins in eight starts and has won back-to-back battles to begin this year though she faced lesser opponents in that pair of races. The latter is stepping down from tougher competition and if she gets a fast pace will be rolling down the lane.

Pick: Getridofwhatailesu

The Miss Preakness

Three-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs are featured here and it could be a rematch of April’s Purple Martin Stakes. Abrogate and Joyful Cadence traded blows that day and they meet again in this one.

While this is Joyful Cadence’s first race since that runner-up performance, Abrogate faded in a slightly longer race against top competition on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs.

Red Ghost is an interesting upset option. She beat boys, albeit not particularly quick males, on April 16 at Keeneland. Her only other dirt race was an eight-length victory at Saratoga in August.

Pick: Red Ghost

Pimlico Special

Fearless is going to be tough to beat in this mile-and-three-sixteenths dirt race for boys. While this is the longest race of his short career, the Pletcher product beat very good horses in a Grade 2 event in Florida in February, and just missed at Oaklawn Park last time out.

Fearless may not be super close to the early speed, and it is possible Last Judgment can slow things down and win wire-to-wire. He won a Grade 3 using that game plan in March.

Prioritize will be a square price. He faced the best of the best towards the end of last year finishing third and fourth in two Grade 1 events. This is his first race since October and he has never beaten this caliber of horses, though it is a drop-down in class from his most recent races.

Pick: Fearless

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