Tom Cooley Photography

Wyomia Headlines Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

Ashland runner-up installed as 9-5 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies.

Second in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) last month, Wyomia is the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) May 20 at Pimlico Race Course.

Kicking off Preakness weekend at the Maryland track, the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan attracted seven sophomore fillies. The featured event on a 13-race card includes five other stakes, it is the 10th race with a 4:46 p.m. EDT probable post.

Based in Williston, Fla., Wyomia has been alone in the barn since she and trainer Curtis Garrison arrived in Baltimore May 10. The filly by the late 2-year-old champion Vindication has three wins and a second in six lifetime starts over three surfaces at four different tracks.

“Nobody’s bothered us, that’s for sure,” Garrison said. “It’s been kind of nice. We wanted to get her used to the track and kind of get acclimated to the weather; so far, so good. Everything looks good to go with her. She’s a pretty classy filly. She always handles everything good.”

Owned by Beverly Anderson and breeder Edward Seltzer, Wyomia started the year with a head victory in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs March 12, her only prior race on dirt. In the 1 1/16-mile Ashland over Polytrack, the dark bay or brown filly closed nicely after splitting horses to finish second by a length behind Lilacs and Lace -- even though jockey Frederic Lenclud lost an iron.

Julien Leparoux takes over on Wyomia, who drew post 4.

Last year, Wyomia won Woodbine's Mazarine Stakes (Can-III) prior to finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT).

Wyomia worked a half-mile at Pimlico in :49 4/5 May 13, galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 1/5. Seltzer, it should be noted, campaigned 1985 Preakness (gr. I) winner Tank’s Prospect.

Harold Queen's Hot Summer, trained by David Fawkes, is the other graded stakes winner in the field. The Virginia-bred daughter of Malibu Moon  is coming off a sharp 2 1/4-length win in the one-mile Comely Stakes (gr. III) April 9 at Aqueduct. She is 5-2 on the morning line.

“I was very impressed,” Fawkes said. “She didn’t have the best trip. She came up on the inside rail and it was very tight, but she stayed calm and ran a huge race. She’s a very nice horse.”

Ramon Dominguez gains the mount on Hot Summer, who finished a distant fifth in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in her only other start this year.

Fawkes doesn’t feel that the distance will be a problem.

“There’s always a question when a horse stretches out, but she’s bred to run long and I think she will,” Fawkes said.

Wyomia and Hot Summer were each assigned top weight of 122 pounds.

Royal Delta, ninth as the favorite in a dull effort in the Suncoast, rebounded with a three-length win over a first-level allowance field at Keeneland April 15. Trained by Bill Mott for Palides Investments N.V., the Empire Maker  lass is pegged at 3-1 in her graded stakes debut.

Copper Penny Stables' Coax Liberty (8-1), third in the Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs on Keeneland's Polytrack April 17, is winless in five prior graded stakes tries. She is yet to race beyond a mile for trainer James Lawrence II.

Southern California invader Love Theway Youare (15-1), New York shipper Buster's Ready (8-1), and supplemental entry Art of the Hunt (20-1) make their graded stakes debuts.

$250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II, Race, 10, 4:46 p.m.) 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Royal Delta (KY), J Lezcano, 116, W I Mott, 3/1
2. Hot Summer (VA), R A Dominguez, 122, D Fawkes, 5/2
3. Coax Liberty (KY), G K Gomez, 116, J L Lawrence II, 8/1
4. Wyomia (KY), J R Leparoux, 122, C L Garrison, 9/5
5. Buster's Ready (VA), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher, 8/1
6. Love Theway Youare (KY),  J Rosario, 116, M K Cho, 15/1
7. Art of the Hunt (MD), no rider, 116, F P Campitelli, 20/1