- While Saturday’s Preakness Stakes is the feature race at Pimlico, there are 10 other stakes races on the card
- The Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is the female equivalent of The Preakness
- Where is the best betting value on the biggest day of horse racing this year in Maryland?
It has been a bizarre year throughout the world and while horse racing has persevered, the Preakness Stakes being run in October without fans, following the Belmont Stakes in June, and Kentucky Derby in September, is very odd.
Lots of attention will be given to The Preakness, but in a year where the Triple Crown is not up for grabs, an undercard that is completely stakes races and begins early, at 11 am EST, is arguably more interesting.
The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is usually run the Friday before the Preakness, but this year will take place about an hour prior to the main event. Essentially the Preakness for girls, it is has a competitive field. Let’s look closely at the Black-Eyed Susan, discuss several other stakes races, and see what betting value is present.
2020 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Odds
|So Darn Hot||+2500|
Odds taken September 29th at Bet365
The Black-Eyed Susan has been run since 1919 and covers a-mile-and-an-eighth on the main track. It has a purse of $250,000. The final race before the Preakness Stakes will be televised by NBC at approximately 4:41 pm EST.
This year’s Black-Eyed Susan lacks the top horses in the three-year-old filly division. Gamine and Swiss Skydiver dominated this category in 2020, but both were beaten by Shedaresthedevil in the Kentucky Oaks. Gamine is preparing to run in a sprint at the Breeders Cup, while Swiss Skydiver is taking on the boys in The Preakness, and Shedaresthedevil is eyeing a race at Keeneland.
Bonny South has run with the top horses in the division all year. Her three-year-old debut was a victory over Shedaresthedevil at Oaklawn Park. Next she won a stakes race in New Orleans.
Her last two races were not victories. She finished fourth, behind Speech and Venetian Harbor at Keeneland, and second to Swiss Skydiver in August at Saratoga. She may find today’s competition to be more likable.
A lot of the competitors in this race are taking a large step up in class. That is not the case for Hopeful Growth and Dream Marie, who both took part in the Kentucky Oaks though neither was a major factor.
While Hopeful Growth was sixth in the Oaks, and Dream Marie ninth, that was arguably the race of the year in 2020. A Kentucky Oaks record time with two superstars getting run down is pretty special. Before that race Hopeful Growth had three wins in five starts. Dream Marie has now lost seven straight races dating back to January.
Perfect Alibi has not won in 13 months, but before a disappointing third-place finish at Laurel Park on September 7, she had run into Gamine twice, and British Idiom on a couple of occasions. That said, she did not come close to those two higher echelon rivals.
Miss Marissa is rarely heavily bet but coming off back-to-back wins. Her best career race was last time out at Saratoga when she won an optional claiming event. She should be forwardly placed and has seemed to like longer distances like they are running in this race.
Sharp Starr is also coming out of a race at Saratoga. Though she has just one career victory, a second-place performance in an allowance race at The Spa in July, and a third-place finish in a stakes race isn’t bad.
Sharp Starr has never run against horses bred outside of New York, but like Miss Marissa, seems to appreciate longer distances.
Bonny South’s resume towers over this field. She has the best win among this group, and her recent races have come against the best of the best in the division. Trainer Brad Cox is red hot and has her placed to succeed in the Black-Eyed Susan.
Pick: Bobby South (+200)
Additional Graded Stakes Races at Pimlico on October 3
Put down your brunch for a moment, and consider which filly or mare you prefer in this mile-and-a-sixteenth Grade 3 turf race slated for an 11:35 am EST start.
The top three candidates are the only graded stakes winners in the group. Juliet Foxtrot hasn’t won in more than a year, a string of six races, but keeps top company and was very close against a strong field in July at Keeneland.
She was fourth last time out in a one-mile affair at Churchill Downs in early September. Juliet Foxtrot is usually close, and a Grade 3 is probably the level she belongs in. She has four victories in 17 races.
Storm the Hill is making just her second appearance as a six-year-old following a third-place effort in a sprint at Santa Anita in January. Now trained by Michael Maker, who often improves horses, she has a pair of Grade 3 wins and surely is classy enough if her conditioning is strong.
Varekna has not hit the board in three races this year but won three out of five tries last year including a Grade 2 at Saratoga. Trainer Graham Motion is putting blinkers on and that may indicate she’ll be more forwardly placed on Saturday.
Pick: Juliet Foxtrot
Miss Preakness Stakes
Three-year-old fillies sprint six furlongs on the dirt in this Grade 3 challenge. More than half of the seven horses entered participated in August’s Charles Town Oaks.
While Fly on Angel deserves credit for winning at +900, she faces three rivals from that event again today, and this will be a more traditional one turn sprint. Runner up Wicked Whisper, third-place finisher Princess Cadey, and fourth Ankle Monitor all look for revenge today. Wicked Whisper has a grade one victory and competed in last year’s Breeders Cup.
Charles Town is not one of the country’s great tracks, and that’s where Mundaye Call has an advantage. She won three straight before falling in the 8Belles Handicap at Churchill Downs on September 4. With lots of early speed, she will be hard to run down. Mundaye Call was purchased for $950,000.
Pick: Wicked Whisper
Dinner Party Stakes
Seven veterans will go a-mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf with a purse of $250,000 in this Grade 2 event.
Factor This is in terrific form for Cox. He settled for second last time out in a mile-and-an-eighth Grade 1 race at Churchill Downs. Factor That beat two of his opponents in this race, Somelikeithotbrown and True Valour in that challenge.
Factor This has four wins in seven starts at today’s distance and has won the last two Grade 2 races he has participated in.
While Somelikeithotbrown ran poorly last time out, he was rank during the race and just seemed out of sorts. His prior two races would make him a major player in this one.
With a lot of horses who want to be near the lead entered, perhaps someone who can power down the stretch is the best choice. Hembree hasn’t won in a long time but has back class and the right style for Maker.
Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash
While these eight older males going six furlongs on the dirt are not the most decorated field, there is ample pace, and it is a good opportunity for someone to notch their first graded stakes victory.
The least experienced horse is Landeskog. Cox’s four-year-old has won three times and finished second twice in six career starts. He won his only race of 2020 at Ellis Park on August 8.
Admiral Lynch has improved since Maker took over earlier this year. In three races in his new barn, he has a win, a place, and a show.
Nitrous was racing against much better horses and running ok before dropping in class last time out. While he was a disappointing fourth in an optional claiming race, this may be the weakest field he has faced in a long time.
Krsto Skye has run in back-to-back dirt races after four straight on turf. After winning a low-level optional claimer, he came back to run a strong second in a graded stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Stan the Man is coming off a stakes victory at Saratoga.
With seven wins in 24 races, Stan the Man isn’t consistent, but at his best is plenty good enough to win this race.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.