BALTIMORE, 05-15-11---It has been a quiet week for trainer Curtis Garrison and his star filly, but that is about to change. Garrison’s multiple graded stakes winner, Wyomia, headlines a field of seven entered for the 87th renewal of the Grade 2 $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Friday at Pimlico Race Course.
Five other stakes help comprise the 13-race card, which also includes the inaugural Female Jockey Challenge and the second edition of Lady Legends for the Cure, a pari-mutuel event featuring eight retired female riders.
Based in Williston, Fla., Wyomia has been alone in the barn since she and Garrison arrived in Baltimore on May 10. The Vindication filly shows 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.”
Sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf to end her two-year-old season, Wyomia made her lone dirt start in the $75,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 12, coming from off the pace to prevail by a head in the final stride.
From there, Garrison targeted the Grade 1 $400,000 Ashland at Keeneland in April, where jockey Frederic Lenclud lost an iron as Wyomia split horses but his filly still managed to finish a solid second, beaten only a length.
Wyomia worked a half-mile at Pimlico in :49 4/5 on May 13, galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 1/5. Her co-owner and breeder, Edward Seltzer, campaigned 1985 Preakness winner Tank’s Prospect.
“He’s had a lot of luck here,” Garrison said. “We’ve still got to outrun everybody else but, hopefully, she’ll get to run her race and, with a lot of luck, we’ll win it.”
The other graded-stakes winner in the field is Hot Summer, trained by David Fawkes for owner Harold J. Queen. In her last start, the Virginia-bred daughter of Malibu Moon came from off the pace for a 2 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct on April 9.
“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.”
Hot Summer has been off the board once in five lifetime starts, her 2011 debut at Gulfstream Park in February. Under Joe Bravo, she raced on or near the early lead before fading to fifth, beaten more than 15 lengths, in the Grade 2 Davona Dale.
“You have to throw that race out. It wasn’t the way I wanted her to be ridden,” Fawkes said. “I think when she comes from off the pace, she’s a much nicer horse. I thought she would benefit from a race back, and she did.”
Fawkes doesn’t feel that the distance will be a problem for Hot Summer, who will get the services of champion rider Ramon Dominguez.
“There’s always a question when a horse stretches out, but she’s bred to run long and I think she will,” Fawkes said. “She’s the kind of horse that will do anything you ask. She’ll switch it off if you want her to. Hopefully, she’ll just break and I’m sure Ramon will do a good job, get her relaxed and go from there.”
Third in the Grade 2 Beaumont last time out at Keeneland, Coax Liberty has made 10 career starts, six of them in graded stakes, none further than a mile, for trainer James Lawrence II. Making their graded stakes debuts are Buster’s Ready; Love Theway Youare, a winner of two straight in California; Royal Delta, ninth to Wyomia in the Suncoast; and Art of the Hunt.
$250,000 BLACK-EYED SUSAN STAKES (GRADE 2)
PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY ML
1 Royal Delta Bill Mott Jose Lezcano 3-1
2 Hot Summer David Fawkes Ramon Dominguez 5-2
3 Coax Liberty James Lawrence Garrett Gomez 8-1
4 Wyomia Curtis Garrison Julien Leparoux 9-5
5 Buster’s Ready Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 8-1
6 Love Theway Youare Myung Kwon Cho Joel Rosario 15-1
7 Art of the Hunt Francis Campatelli no rider 20-1
On the undercard, Immortal Eyes looks to extend his win streak to three races in the $75,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at five furlongs. In the filly version, Supreme, three-for-four lifetime, makes her stakes debut against multiple stakes winner Rose Catherine in the $75,000 The Very One Stakes.
Maryland-based trainer Tim Tullock will saddle Sweet Susan and Full Moon Blues against 10 rivals in the $75,000 Miss Preakness Stakes at six furlongs on dirt, while trainer Chad Brown brings in the pair of Celestial Kitten and Ms Silver Oak for the $75,000 Hilltop Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Both races are for 3-year-old fillies.
Favored Lady, Danced All Night, Gin Sweep, Signofspring, Our Jaks and Grand Gracie are all coming off wins heading into the $25,000 Kattegat’s Pride Starter Handicap for registered Maryland-bred females 3 and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
Making its debut on Friday is the inaugural Female Jockey Challenge, featuring six of the world’s top female riders. Vicky Baze, Forest Boyce, Rosie Napravnik, Chantal Sutherland, Hayley Turner and Emma-Jayne Wilson will compete for the most points in four selected races and a top prize of $10,000.
In an encore performance, the Lady Legends for the Cure™ II race will showcase eight retired female jockeys to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen® breast cancer organization. Andrea Seefeldt-Knight, Mary Russ-Tortora, Mary Wiley-Wagner, Patti (P.J.) Cooksey, Barbara Jo Rubin, Jennifer Rowland-Small and Cheryl White return from last year, joined by Abby Fuller. Last year’s winner, Gwen Jocson, is injured and unable to participate, but will be on hand to support her fellow riders. The six-furlong optional claiming allowance will go off as the seventh race.