Actress, a homebred Tapit filly raced by Gary and Mary West, rallied from far back to win the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies by a head at odds of 12-1. The Jason Servis trainee had runner-up finishes in two previous efforts sprinting at Gulfstream Park, and broke her maiden with the grade 2 victory. Watch Video
"I always liked this filly," Servis said. "I told them she's a good filly from day one. I've got to hand it to the Wests. They were on board the whole time and a lot of owners wouldn't be. But they've been great. They're good for the business. They deserve it. They love the game. It's not just the money. They've got a passion for it."
Jockey Nik Juarez was aboard for all three starts.
"We knew from running out of the six-furlong chute that she was a runner," he said. "I found she really liked being behind the dirt. I said, 'Let's send her around two turns,' and Jason said the same thing. We knew she would get a distance."
Actress was handled patiently from the beginning, and advanced along the inner rail as Tapa Tapa Tapa showed the way through opening fractions of :23.12 and :46.38 for a half-mile. The pacesetter held a head advantage through three-quarters in 1:11.56, but relinquished her position briefly to 3-1 choice Shimmering Aspen.
"They were running fast up front and I was sitting behind. ... When she made her move, she really started running and carried it on," said Juarez, who geared his mount up after she eased out past the five-sixteenths pole, steadied off heels nearing the lane, and regrouped to the four path.
Actress took the lead inside the eighth pole after lugging in a bit from right-handed whipping as Shimmering Aspen faded, and dug in late to prevail over Lights of Medina, who closed with a late outside run. The final time on a sloppy track was 1:51.87.
Actress paid $27.60, $18, and $7.80. Lights of Medina ($5.80 and $4.60) was two lengths better than Corporate Queen ($10.20). The order of finish was completed by Torrent, Moana, Tapa Tapa Tapa, Shimmering Aspen, Summer Luck, Dancing Rags, Yorkiepoo Princess, and Full House.
Bred in Kentucky, Actress was the first foal out of the stakes-winning Milwaukee Brew mare Milwaukee Appeal, who was named Canadian champion 3-year-old filly in 2009. She has two full siblings—a 2-year-old colt named Raising the Flag, and a 2017 filly.
Despite the heavy rain shower that passed over the track and lasted until the start of the Black-Eyed Susan, Servis wasn't concerned about the surface.
"With her pedigree, she should run on anything," he said.
The Maryland Jockey Club reported record attendance and total handle on Black-Eyed Susan Day. Friday's attendance was 50,339, topping the previous mark of 47,956 set last year.
Total handle on the 14-race program was nearly $19.9 million, a 6% increase over last year's previous record total handle of more than $18.6 million. With nearly another $750,000 bet on the Black-Eyed Susan-Preakness Stakes (G1) daily double, total handle was more than $20 million.