The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes was first inaugurated at Pimlico Race Course in 1919 and was won by Milkmaid in the same year Sir Barton became the first American Triple Crown winner. Run as the Pimlico Oaks until 1952 the race was then renamed the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in honor of the Maryland state flower and also to make a connection with the famous blanket of Black-Eyed Susan’s that are presented to the winner of the Preakness Stakes. In its first year of running the Black-Eyed Susan was contested at a distance of 1 1/16 miles but has bounced around from 1 1/16, 1 3/16 and 1 1/8 miles until 1989 when the race was set at 1 1/8 miles and has stayed that way ever since.
Several fillies have used the Black-Eyed Susan to cement their status as leading three year old performers during the race’s 86 running’s including Silverbulletday, Serena’s Song, Davona Dale, Gallorette, Twilight Tear, Vagrancy and Nellie Morse, all of whom were named divisional champions at the conclusion of their sophomore campaigns. Sixteen fillies in total have won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and gone on to be named divisional champion. In an unofficial capacity the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes has evolved to become the second leg of a filly triple crown, run as the second leg after the Kentucky Oaks and before the Acorn Stakes (gr.1). Officially the triple for fillies is known as the Triple Tiara and consists of the Acorn Stakes, the Coaching Club American Stakes and the Alabama Stakes.
This year the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr.2) will be worth $250,000, increased from the $150,000 in 2009 and $200,000 in 2010. Not as stunning as the Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) $1 million dollar purse this year but still a prestigious event with a sizable purse. The race for three year old fillies will be contested on May 20th at Pimlico just one day before the Preakness Stakes (gr.1) and 28 fillies have been nominated for the race. Some prominent names are on the list but I would be very surprised to see them in Baltimore next weekend. Chief among those names are Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty and fellow Oaks runners Holy Heavens, Her Smile and Summer Soiree.
Two fillies that have been under consideration for several weeks are Wyomia and Royal Delta. Wyomia won the Suncoast Stakes two starts back, easily defeating Royal Delta who finished 9th in the second start of her career. In her last start Wyomia finished second in the Ashland Stakes (gr.1) while Royal Delta easily won an allowance race at Keeneland by three lengths.
More information will be coming on the prospective field early next week but some other prominent fillies listed as possible are; Big Tiz, Chloe Kate, Coax Liberty, Hearts On Fire, Hot Summer, R Holiday Mood and Salary Drive.
Image Courtesy of Pimlico.com