Pimlico's Black-Eyed Susan Announces Contenders and Odds for 5/20/22

Luna Bella headlines the field for the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan. (Maryland Jockey Club photo)
Post PositionsHorse and Morning Line Odds
1Divine Huntress (15-1)
2Missy Greer (20-1)
3Miss Yearwood (20-1)
4Midnight Stroll (15-1)
5Beguine (12-1)
6Luna Belle (9-2)
7Distinctlypossible (6-1)
8Candy Light (20-1)
9Interstatedaydream (6-1)
10Adare Manor (5-2)
11Radio Days (12-1)
12Favor (8-1)
13Morning Matcha (20-1)

Luna Belle Faces Toughest Test in Black-Eyed Susan

(Edited Press Release)

Undefeated through four starts this year and a winner of five consecutive stakes dating back before Christmas, Luna Belle will be tested like never before facing 10 shippers among the largest field in nearly three decades for the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at historic Pimlico Race Course on May 20.

The 98th running of the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies highlights a 14-race program that includes six stakes, four graded, worth $1.05 million in purses and serves as a fitting prelude to Saturday’s 147th Preakness Stakes (G1).

Other graded stakes on the Black-Eyed Susan program are the historic $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles; $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs; and $150,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/8 miles.

Rounding out the stakes action are a pair of turf events, the $100,000 Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies at one mile, and $100,000 The Very One, a five-furlong dash for females 3 and older. First-race post time Friday is 11:30 a.m. Post time for the Black-Eyed Susan, carded as Race 13, is scheduled for 5:44 p.m.

Owned by Deborah Greene and Laurel Park-based trainer Hamilton Smith and bred by Smith, Greene and her late father, Fred Greene Jr., Luna Belle earned automatic entry into the Black-Eyed Susan by virtue of her 4 ½-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss April 16 at Laurel, her two-turn debut.

During her streak, Luna Belle has won at distances from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth. She was also nominated to the $100,000 Hilltop going a mile on the grass and considered for the $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) sprinting six furlongs, both on Friday’s undercard.

“She’s done everything that we’ve asked of her so far. We had another stake we could have gone in on Black-Eyed Susan Day, the sprint, but we didn’t,” Smith said. “We decided that she’s done enough to deserve the chance at it, and we’ll see how she can perform with them. We’re going to give it a whirl and hope for the best.

“If she runs the same type of race that she has in the last several, where she’s able to relax off the lead a little bit, she should be tough,” he added. “I would have to think there will be some speed in the race, moreso than what we’ve had before, really. It should set up pretty good in that respect.”

A field of 13 was entered for the Black-Eyed Susan, the largest since it got 13 in 1994 when it was won by Calipha, trained by late Hall of Famer Bud Delp, who was also based in Maryland. Second choice at odds of 9-2 on the morning line, Luna Belle drew Post 6 and will be ridden for the sixth straight race by Denis Araujo.

"She’s won five in a row and she’s stepped up a little further in distance each time and she’s handled it well. Off of her last race, it doesn’t look like a mile and an eighth should be a hindrance,” Smith said. “I think the main thing is the competition that she’s going to have to run against. You’re looking at a tougher bunch of fillies in here than we’ve had recently.

“Hopefully she runs well and if she gives us a good account of herself, that’d be fine,” he added. “I’d like to see her win it, naturally, but as long as she runs good and comes out fine, that’s the main thing.”

The 5-2 program favorite for the Black-Eyed Susan is Michael Lund Petersen’s Adare Manor, a 13-length winner of the one-mile Las Virgenes (G3) Feb. 6 at Santa Anita in her stakes debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is serving a 90-day suspension that goes to July 2. Adare Manor, by champion Uncle Mo, was beaten a neck when second in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) April 9, her most recent start, for trainer Tim Yakteen. Since the race she has been with Sean McCarthy, best known as the trainer of Grade 1 winner Majestic Harbor.

Adare Manor and jockey John Velazquez drew Post 10.

Flurry Racing Stables’ Interstatedaydream (6-1) enters the Black-Eyed Susan having run third to Nest – subsequently second in the May 7 Kentucky Oaks (G1) – in Keeneland’s 1 1/16-mile Ashland (G1) after setting the pace. The Classic Empire filly won twice last summer before getting the rest of the year off, returning with an 8 ¼-length optional claiming allowance triumph March 13 at Oaklawn Park.

“She’s doing great,” trainer Brad Cox said. “She had a good breeze this past weekend, and we’ll see how it goes. It’s a nice spot – 3-year-old fillies going long on the dirt. Some of the top-notch fillies obviously ran last weekend. Hopefully she can become a graded-stakes winner.”

Florent Geroux rides from Post 9.

Bradley Thoroughbreds, Gary Finder, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron and Team Hanley’s Distinctlypossible (8-1) ran second in both her starts as a 2-year-old including the Alcibiades (G1) last October at Keeneland. The daughter of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin has raced once this year, graduating by 1 ¼ lengths in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight April 10 at Keeneland.

“She’s a lightly-raced horse that we got a little bit of a late start with this year. She was a little sick over the winter and I was really trying to get her on the Oaks trail and she just ran out of time. She’s a really talented horse, and I’m looking forward to bringing her,” trainer Chad Brown said. “This seems like a nice spot to keep her around two turns.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call from Post 7.

Stonestreet Stables’ Favor (8-1) was a two-time winner going a mile at Gulfstream Park over the winter before being stepped up to stakes company for her most recent start, the 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), where she ran third behind champion Echo Zulu, beaten 2 ¼ lengths. She trained in South Florida through April before returning to Belmont Park and rejoining Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who won the Black-Eyed Susan with Stopchargingmaria (2014), In Lingerie (2012), Panty Raid (2007) and Spun Sugar (2005).

Favor drew Post 12 with jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

Beguine and Radio Days are both 12-1 on the morning line for the Black-Eyed Susan. Charles Matses’ Beguine ran second by a neck at odds of 11-1 in the April 2 Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park and was entered in the Kentucky Oaks but failed to draw into the field as the first also-eligible. The Gun Runner filly broke her maiden in front-running fashion one start prior to the Fantasy, also going 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn.

“I thought all along she was going to want to run two turns. When she won the first time going two turns, she went right to the lead with a soft pace and really didn’t learn anything, and we didn’t learn a whole lot about her. When we stepped up in the Fantasy she sat behind horses and came up the inside and got a couple races of experience probably in the one race,” trainer Dan Peitz said. “Just kind of an improving filly that I think can take another step forward. I don’t think the mile and an eighth is going to be a problem.”

Joseph Allen’s Radio Days will be taking a third shot at becoming a graded-stakes winner, having run second in the Feb. 5 Forward Gal (G3) at Gulfstream Park and April 10 Beaumont (G3) at Keeneland, both sprinting seven furlongs, the latter to Matareya who came back to take the Eight Belles (G2) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard May 7. Undefeated in two starts at 2, Radio Days has run as far as a mile in the March 5 Busher Invitational at Aqueduct, finishing fourth by 1 ½ lengths as the favorite.

"I thought in the race at Aqueduct she laid up a little too close,” said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who won the Black-Eyed Susan with Mesabi Maiden in 1996. “The idea was to get her back and she ran a really good race at Keeneland. She just ran into a horse she couldn’t beat. We’ll see how good she is. We are looking forward to getting her stretched out and seeing what happens."