Black-Eyed Susan Day Notes

May 13th, 2019

May 13, 2019

Please Flatter Me Works Monday at Pimlico for Miss Preakness (G3)

Sweet Diane Taken Out of Consideration for Black-Eyed Susan (G2)

Former Brown Assistant DeVaux in Search of First Stakes Win in Hilltop

Trainer Jason Servis has High Hopes for Miss Imperial in Miss Preakness

Trainer Sharp Excited About Returning to Mid-Atlantic Roots

BALTIMORE – Heider Family Stables, Madaket Stables and Doheny Racing Stable’s multiple stakes winner Please Flatter Me breezed on a rainy Monday morning at Pimlico Race Course ahead of her next scheduled start in Friday’s $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3).

The 34th edition of the six-furlong Miss Preakness for 3-year-old fillies is among seven stakes, four graded, worth $1.15 million on a 14-race program highlighted by the 95th running of the $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

First-race post time Friday is 11:30 a.m. The Miss Preakness is carded as Race 8 (3:13 p.m.) with the Black-Eyed Susan will be Race 11 (4:48 p.m.). Both are part of NBCSN’s national television coverage from 3 to 5 p.m.

With jockey Rosario Montanez aboard for trainer Mark Reid, Please Flatter Me covered a half-mile in 47 seconds over a sloppy main track. It was the lone half-mile work and one of only five overall Monday at Pimlico.

“I didn’t want to work her but it looks like the rain is going to hang around for a couple days so I breezed her this morning and she went in 47 and came home in 23 and change,” Reid said. “So, she’s on her game and ready to go. Why not, as they say.”

It was the fifth published work, all at Pimlico, for Please Flatter Me since suffering her first loss in four career starts when beaten a length in the one-mile Busher Invitational March 9 at Aqueduct.

“She doesn’t need a whole lot. She’ll kind of do whatever you want,” Reid said. “She’s an everyday horse with some extraordinary talent, I think.”

The Miss Preakness marks the first time Please Flatter Me will race over her home track. She made three starts at 2, the first two at Penn National, winning the Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies Stakes in her only try at six furlongs.

From there, the daughter of multiple Grade 2-winning sprinter Munnings captured the Gin Talking Stakes Dec. 29 at Laurel Park, her three wins coming by 18 ¼ lengths. Originally pointed for the seven-furlong Ruthless Stakes Jan. 29 at Aqueduct for her sophomore debut, Please Flatter Me didn’t get started until the Busher.

“Typical training in the Northeast in the winter,” Reid said. “She missed too much training with the track being frozen and thawing. But, physically she’s great. It’s a long year, so we just bided our time and this looked like the next logical spot.

“I’m stabled right here in Barn A, and she’s got about 100 yards go walk over and get settled. Her first four starts she’s had to ship for each one and I just thought this race fit best for her,” he added. “She trains over this track every day, and likes it. So, I’m thinking to myself that it is a big advantage. It’s kind of shifty here with the little narrow turns and she just handles it like it’s nothing to her.

“Now, she doesn’t need her track. I’ve shipped her to Penn National, to Laurel. She ran a good race at Aqueduct off a layoff, but there’s nothing like home cooking, you know? We’re very optimistic. She’s coming into the race well.”

Reid, 67, won the Miss Preakness with Toots La Mae in 1992, a decade before the race was first graded. A winner of 1,744 career races, Reid’s last graded-stakes triumph came with Le Famo in the 1992 Vineland Handicap (G3) at Garden State. He also won four graded races with Mr. Nickerson in 1989-90.

In the mid-1990s, Reid left training and worked 15 years as a bloodstock agent. Among his clients were Edmund Gann, who campaigned Grade 1 winners Medaglia d’Oro, Peace Rules and You, all trained by late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel. He also served as racing manager for William Warren, owner of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, and bred 2011 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Plum Pretty at his Walnut Green Farm in Unionville, Pa.

“I have not been involved in Preakness weekend for quite a few years. I took some time off and just started training again 3-4 years ago,” Reid said. “Buying and selling ‘em was great. I’ve bought and sold some of the great horses around now but you get the hankering to get back out here in the morning with a cup of coffee and try and figure the puzzle out yourself. And that’s what I’m doing.”

Reid expects the naturally fast Please Flatter Me to be on the front end again in the Miss Preakness, where she drew Post 4 in a field of 13 and is listed at 8-1 on the morning line. Jose Ortiz, the 2017 Eclipse Award winner, will ride for the first time.

“She’s just real handy,” Reid said. “She doesn’t get worked up, ever. She acts like she wants to go over there and take a nap, but when the man says go, she pops out of there and gets right into her race and they’ve got her to run down.”

Sweet Diane Taken Out of Consideration for Black-Eyed Susan (G2)

Sweet Diane’s debut for her new connections will not come at Pimlico, as her connections have opted to take the Grade 2-placed filly out of consideration for Friday’s $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan.

Sweet Diane, trained by Kentucky-based Eddie Kenneally, drew Post 1 in the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan and was 15-1 on the morning line in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies led by 5-2 program favorite Point of Honor.

“She’s fine. We’re just going to debate a different option with her,” Kenneally said Monday. “This race came up a little salty for us at the moment. We’ll come up with a little easier spot.”

Sweet Diane, by 2013 3-year-old male champion Will Take Charge, fetched $500,000 at Keeneland’s horses of racing age sale in April after making her first five starts for Stallionaire Enterprises and trainer Michael Stidham. In addition to the Fair Grounds Oaks, she was third in the Suncoast Stakes Feb. 9 at Tampa Bay Downs and second by a neck in the Hut Hut Stakes Dec. 8 at Gulfstream Park.

“She’s done really well and we’re very happy with her, but I think we’re going to wait,” Kenneally said. “She’s a nice filly and I think she’ll have a very good year.”

Former Brown Assistant DeVaux in Search of First Stakes Win in Hilltop

In her eight years as a senior assistant to multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, Cherie DeVaux walked into the winners’ circle with such standouts as Lady Eli, Dacita, Wake Forest, Flintshire, Zagora and too many others to name.

On March 29, she walked into the winner’s circle at Gulfstream Park with Traveling, who took a $39,000 maiden claiming race to give DeVaux her first win since going out on her own last spring.

At Pimlico on Friday, Black-Eyed Susan Day, the 37-year-old DeVaux is hopeful that Dixiana Farms’ Primela will give her her first stakes win as a trainer in the 47th running of the $100,000 Maker’s Mark Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies. The one-mile turf race will mark the third North American start for the French-bred daughter of Orpen, who finished a closing fourth in the Herecomesthebride (G3) in Florida and sixth in the Appalachian (G2) in April in Keeneland.

“She had a rough trip in the Appalachian over soft ground, and flattened out the last sixteenth,” said DeVaux, who on Preakness Day will celebrate the first anniversary of saddling her first horse, Take Charge Tina (fifth at Belmont Park). “She is progressing nicely.”

The same might be said of DeVaux, who grew up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. the daughter of a standardbred trainer. While in college, she began galloping horses and soon found her calling as an assistant trainer, first for Chuck Simon, for whom she worked for six years, and then for Brown. Following champion Lady Eli’s retirement, DeVaux decided it was time to “write the next chapter” in her life and struck out on her own.

“I started with zero horses,” she recalls. “I wanted to fulfill my duties [with Brown], then go out on my own instead of doing both at the same time. It kind of put me behind the eight ball to step back from a big operation.

“I needed to learn patience, along with working in a different capacity as far as business duties, client relations, networking and sales, but the biggest takeaway from Chad was to always put the horse first,” she added.

An example of that was with a Union Rags colt named Dinar, purchased as a 2-year-old for $90,000 by Al Rashid Stables. After a few workouts in New York last summer, DeVaux decided to give him some time and brought him back this year to finish a solid third in his debut, beaten less than three lengths at 24-1 in a maiden special at Keeneland.

“I kept that in mind and didn’t push him,” she said. “This whole first year as getting the ground work and planning ahead. We spent the winter [training] at Payson Park and focused on the Keeneland meet, and it paid off.”

In five starts there, DeVaux’s horses finished with two seconds and a third, and already this year her stable of 30 have earned more than $100,000 with a 1-3-5 mark in 18 starts.

“We have an exciting group of 2-year-olds,” she said. “Looking back, it’s been a year of growth and change, both personally and professionally. And looking ahead, well, we’re all here for the horses. Winning races is the goal, of course, but the horse has to come first.”

Trainer Jason Servis has High Hopes for Miss Imperial in Miss Preakness

Trainer Jason Servis has a 3-year-old entered this weekend at Pimlico Race Course, but it’s a filly named Miss Imperial in Friday’s $150,000 Adena Springs’ Miss Preakness, not Maximum Security.

Maximum Security finished first in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 4, but was disqualified for interference and placed 17th by Churchill Downs racing stewards.

Miss Imperial is among a strong field of 13 entered for Friday’s six-furlong sprint on the Black-Eyed Susan Day card on the eve of the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes.

Since Derby day, Servis’ stable has produced two wins and two seconds from six races through May 13, including a victory by Firenze Fire in the Runhappy Stakes at Belmont Park on May 11. While Maximum Security is not running in the Preakness, Servis hopes Miss Imperial will represent his stable with a strong effort.

“She’s in pretty good form and training well so we’re going to see how she does in this spot,’’ said Servis, adding that his filly would ship in from Belmont the morning of the race.

A daughter of Maclean’s Magic, out of Miss Cappy, Miss Imperial is looking for her first win this year after two runner-up finishes, in the Ruthless Stakes and the Cicada Stakes, both at Aqueduct. She was two-for-three as a 2-year-old and has career earnings of $125,630 for owners Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, David Simon, Bethlehem Stables and Susan Montanya.

“She’s ready to race, but there was nothing for her in New York this weekend so that’s why we’re trying this spot,’’ added Servis.

Reigning Eclipse Award champion jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount.

Miss Imperial has a tough task in taking on the likes of Covfefe, two-for-three with her only loss a fourth-place finish in the Frizette (G1) at Belmont; local trainer Cal Lynch’s Congrats Gal, a winner of all three of her starts at Laurel; and Fighting Mad, two-for-two for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and owners Gary and Mary West, who also own Maximum Security.

Trainer Sharp Excited About Returning to Mid-Atlantic Roots

Trainer Joe Sharp looks forward to returning to his Mid-Atlantic roots each spring, checking his Kentucky-based stable  to see what horses make sense for the stakes cornucopia that leads up to the Preakness Stakes.

Sharp grew up near Charles Town racetrack and rode races at Pimlico, but he quickly surpassed his jockey career as a trainer. In his first full year of training in 2015, Sharp earned his first graded-stakes victory with Sandbar in Pimlico’s Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3).

Among the three horses he’s bringing is Heavy Roller, one of 14 entrants in Friday’s $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) at its new distance of 1 1/4 miles. Heavy Roller has won three of four races since owner Carl Moore sent the 5-year-old Malibu Moon gelding to Sharp.

“He won at the Fair Grounds first time he ran for us,” Sharp said. “Then we took him up to Oaklawn and he won a three-other-than in the slop very impressively in a very tough group. We ran him back in the Essex. Some horses do really well at Oaklawn; some don’t. He’d been there since the previous race, just kind of looked a little light and his coat wasn’t the best the day of the Essex. So I wasn’t surprised he ran a little flat, honestly.

“We brought him back to Kentucky to Keeneland. He could eat grass and just seemed to do really well again,” he added. “We put him in main track only and the race fell apart and was a three-horse field. He barely got up in that race, but for him, with the kind of running style he has — which is on pace at all — those are the toughest kinds of races for a horse like that to win. He barely got there the last jump. I think the mile and a quarter will really suit him well. He’s just one of those high-cruising speed, pace-dependent kind of horse. The added distance, he’ll love, I think.”

Sharp also is running Midnight Fantasy in Friday’s Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3) and Malpais in Saturday’s Chick Lang (G3).

“Those races can come up like anything on those big days,” Sharp said. “But we’ve had luck at Pimlico.”

About Pimlico Race Course

Legendary Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness® Stakes, the Middle Jewel in horse racing’s famed Triple Crown, first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, and is the second oldest racetrack in the United States. Pimlico has played host to racing icons and Baltimoreans have seen the likes of legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed, American Pharoah and Cigar thunder down the stretch in thrilling and memorable competition. For more information on Pimlico, visit

The Stronach Group is North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, home of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at or call 954.658.7156.