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Anne M. Eberhardt

Black-Eyed Susan: A Soft Spot for Emollient?

After winning Ashland by nine lengths, Juddmonte Farms filly is favored at Pimlico.

Emollient, nine-length winner of the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) in April, is the 9-5 favorite in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) May 17 at Pimlico Race Course.

Juddmonte Farms' daughter of Empire Maker  drew post 6 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who brings Mike Smith back to ride. Smith, also in the Hall of Fame, was aboard Emollient when she demolished a 13-horse field with a front-running score at 6-1 odds on the Polytrack at Keeneland April 6.

The Black-Eyed Susan, contested at nine furlongs, is the highlight of a Friday card that includes seven stakes worth at least $100,000. It is race 10 with a scheduled post time of 4:47 p.m. EDT. The stakes-filled card serves as a warm-up for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) program the following day at the Baltimore track.

Emollient has won two of three starts this year. An allowance winner to begin her 3-year-old campaign, she was trounced by 30 lengths by Dreaming of Julia in that filly's record-setting win in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) March 30.

That was Emollient's most recent start on dirt. She was second in the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack last November.

Breaking from post 7, Emollient carries co-high weight of 122 pounds.

Fiftyshadesofhay changes coasts for trainer Bob Baffert following a third-place finish behind champion Beholder in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) April 6. Winner of the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) on a wet/fast surface at Santa Anita Park in January, the Pulpit filly runs for Karl Watson, Michael Pegram, and Paul Weitman.

Listed at 2-1 on the morning line, she will add blinkers for the first time since she was a maiden and will be ridden by Joel Rosario from post 3. Fiftyshadesofhay tuned up for the race with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 1/5 May 10 at Churchill Downs, the fastest of 27 horses.

"We shipped her to Kentucky, but she really didn't ship well. Now, she's doing really well," Baffert said. "She has had a couple of works. Her last work was nice, so we decided to take a shot at it."

Sagamore Farm's Maryland homebred Walkwithapurpose heads the local contingent while pegged at 5-1. The daughter of Candy Ride  had a five-race win streak interrupted when she finished third, seven lengths behind Close Hatches, in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) April 6 at Aqueduct. The runner-up in that race, Princess of Sylmar, returned to upset the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 3. 

Walkwithapurpose won the one-mile Caeser's Wish Stakes at Laurel Park by 9 1/2 lengths March 2, and has five victories from seven tries overall for trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Correas.

"The saddle slipped coming out of the gate," Correas said of the Gazelle trip for Walkwithapurpose. "I don't know what she hit or what happened, but it slipped. It was the first time she was going a mile and an eighth, the first time going two turns, the first time for a lot of stuff.

"Being locals, we are home, so she already has experience over the track. I think that's a different thing. There are some very good competitors in the race, but it should be better this time. She has been doing very good."

Though Walkwithapurpose has never raced at Pimlico, she has trained daily there since Correas moved his string from Laurel in late March, including a bullet half-mile breeze in :47 2/5 May 10.

Unbeaten Maracuya (6-1) makes her stakes debut after winning her first two starts at Gulfstream Park this spring for trainer Ralph Nicks and owner T/ C Stable and partners. She recorded a gate-to-wire 1 1/4-length win in a first-level allowance March 31. The Big Brown  lass adds more speed to a quick lineup.

Curragh Stables' Manuka Honey (10-1), second in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) on a sloppy Oaklawn Park strip April 10, ships in from New York for trainer John Terranova II and draws the rail. Marathon Lady (12-1), third in the Fantasy, breaks from the far outside for trainer Steve Hobby and owners Alex and Jo Ann Lieblong.

Lady Banks (30-1), Petit Trianon (20-1), and Toasting (20-1) complete the field.

$500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II, Race 10, 4:47 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Manuka Honey (KY), E S Prado, 122, J P Terranova, II, 10/1
2. Lady Banks (ON), J Pimentel, 116, J L Lawrence, II, 30/1
3. Fiftyshadesofhay (KY), J Rosario, 122, B Baffert, 2/1
4. Petit Trianon (KY), V R Carrasco, 116, J C Vazquez, 20/1
5. Walkwithapurpose (MD), J Lezcano, 122, I Correas, IV, 5/1
6. Maracuya (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, R E Nicks, 6/1
7. Emollient (KY), M E Smith, 122, W I Mott, 9/5
8. Toasting (FL), J Castellano, 116, T Albertrani. 20/1
9. Marathon Lady (FL), R Albarado, 116, S Hobby, 12/1
Blinkers On: Fiftyshadesofhay, Toasting