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Secret Oath, Luna Belle Top $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Noms
Historic Race for Sophomore Fillies Run for 98th Time Friday, May 20
Tops 14-Race Program of Six Stakes, Four Graded, Worth $1.05 Million
LAUREL, MD – Four graded-stakes winners led by Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Secret Oath, a trio of Grade 1-placed horses and local star Luna Belle, who has reeled off five consecutive stakes victories, head a list of 26 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Friday, May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The 98th running of the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan highlights a spectacular 14-race program that includes six stakes, four graded, worth $1.05 million in purses that drew 170 total nominations and serves as a fitting prelude to the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, Saturday, May 21.
First run in 1919 as the Pimlico Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan has been won by horses such as Nellie Morse, the only filly to also go on to win the Preakness, in 1924; along with champions Vagrancy, Twilight Tear, But Why Not, Wistful, Real Delight, Office Queen, Davona Dale, Serena’s Song, Silverbulletday and Royal Delta.
Briland Farm’s Secret Oath was a two-length winner of the Oaks for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has her under strong consideration to face males in the Preakness. Other nominees exiting the May 6 Oaks are Rachel Alexandra (G2) winner Turnerloose, Fantasy (G3) winner Yuugiri and Ashland (G1) runner-up Cocktail Moments, who all finished off the board.
Deborah Greene and Hamilton Smith’s Luna Belle, Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2021, is nominated to make her graded-stakes debut. The Great Notion filly has won at distances of six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles during a streak that began last December, all at her home base of Laurel Park. Her most recent, the April 16 Weber City Miss, earned her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan.
Also prominent among nominees are Adare Manor, a 12-length winner of the Las Vergenes (G3) in February at Santa Anita; Beguine, beaten a neck by Yuuguri in the Fantasy, her most recent start; Distinctlypossible and Sequist, respectively 2-3 in the 2021 Alcibiades (G1); Interstatedaydream, third in the Ashland; stakes winners Midnight Stroll and Morning Matcha; Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey’s multiple Grade 3-placed Radio Days; Favor, third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), and Green Up, a winner of two straight, each for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Entries will be taken Sunday, May 15 for the Black-Eyed Susan, which will be drawn Monday, May 16 along with the Preakness.
Heading the supporting stakes is the historic $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up traveling the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles, which attracted 29 nominees including four from two-time reigning Eclipse Award champion trainer Brad Cox – Caddo River, Fulsome, Plainsman and Warrant.
Caddo River won the Smarty Jones and was second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) last winter at Oaklawn Park, and is riding a two-race win streak. Fulsome is a three-time Grade 3 winner, most recently in the April 2 Oaklawn Mile. Plainsman won the 2021 Ack Ack (G3) and Feb. 12 Razorback (G3) and most recently was third in the April 23 Oaklawn Handicap (G2). Warrant, the 2021 Oklahoma Derby (G3) winner, exits a fourth in the Ben Ali (G3), also April 23.
Capocostello, a multiple Group 1 winner in Panama; 2021 Dwyer (G3) winner First Captain; multiple stakes winner Forewarned; Oaklawn Handicap winner Last Samurai; Miles D, third in the 2021 Travers (G1) and Feb. 19 Mineshaft (G3); 2021 Peter Pan (G3) winner Promise Keeper; and four-time graded-stakes placed Proxy are also nominated.
The Pimlico Special’s roster of winners includes Triple Crown champions War Admiral, Whirlaway, Citation and Assault and modern-day Horses of the Year Criminal Type, Cigar, Skip Away, Mineshaft and Invasor. Seabiscuit upset War Admiral in the 1937 Special, in what was termed the ‘Race of the Century’ by Sports Illustrated.
Matareya, winner of the Eight Belles (G2) May 6, and Jan. 8 Santa Ysabel (G2) winner Under the Stars head 25 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $150,00 Miss Preakness sprinting six furlongs. They are joined by such nominees as multiple stakes winners Buff My Boots, based at Laurel, and Happy Soul; stakes winners Lady Scarlet and Verylittlecents; and Pinky Toe, 2-0 in her brief career for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Army Wife, winner of the 2021 Black-Eyed Susan for trainer Mike Maker before going on to win the Iowa Oaks (G3) and run third in the Alabama (G1) and Cotillion (G1), tops 16 nominees to the $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles. Others include millionaire Brad Cox-trained stablemates Shedaresthedevil and Bonny South; fellow multiple graded-stakes winner Crazy Beautiful; 2021 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) winner Maracuja; and five-time stakes winner Miss Leslie.
A pair of grass races round out the stakes action – the $100,000 Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies going one mile and the $100,000 The Very One sprinting five furlongs. Bobby Flay’s Pizza Bianca, upset winner of the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), stands out among 32 nominees to the Hilltop, which also include multiple graded-stakes winner Spendarella; Haughty, third to Pizza Bianca; Black-Eyed Susan nominee Luna Belle; Saucy Lady T, third in the 2021 Spinaway (G1) on dirt; and Yuugiri.
Most popular among horsemen, the 23rd The Very One’s 42 nominees include 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) winner Twilight Gleaming; 2021 Caress (G3) winner Caravel; Cilla, a Grade 2 winner on dirt; and stakes winners Dontletsweetfoolya, Door Buster, Elle Z, Epic Idea, Fille d’Esprit, Payntdembluesaway and Princess Kokachin.
Entries will be taken and post positions drawn for the Black-Eyed Susan Day undercard stakes Sunday, May 15.