98th Edition of Prestigious 1 1/8-Mile Race for 3-Year-Old Fillies
BALTIMORE – Jockey Florent Geroux and trainer Brad Cox, teaming up for the third consecutive year, registered their first victory in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) when Flurry Racing Stables’ Interstatedaydream passed tiring pacesetter Beguine at the top of the stretch and drew clear through the lane for a 1 ¼-length triumph Friday at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The 98th running of the 1 1/8-mile fixture for 3-year-old fillies was the centerpiece of a sensational 14-race program featuring six stakes, four graded, worth $1.05 million in purses that served as a fitting prelude to Saturday’s 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
In beating the largest Black-Eyed Susan field since 13 also went to the post in 1994, Interstatedaydream ($14.20) completed the distance in 1:48.73 over a fast main track. Grade 3 winner Adare Manor, the 2-1 favorite racing outside of California for the first time, was second, a length ahead of fast-closing Radio Days.
Geroux was eighth on the Cox-trained Adventuring in the 2021 Black-Eyed Susan, and they finished second by a neck as the favorite with Bonny South in 2020, when the race was pushed back to October amid the coronavirus pandemic and run on the same day as the Preakness.
Earlier in the day, Geroux won the $150,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff (G3) with Norm Casse-trained Super Quick.
Beguine, the lone also-eligible that didn’t draw into the field for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 7, was eager in her first start since a runner-up finish in the April 2 Fantasy (G3) and went straight to the front under jockey Jose Ortiz. They maintained their advantage while going the first quarter-mile in 23.34 seconds and a half in 46.65.
Geroux had Interstatedaydream positioned just off the lead while given clear run two-wide in second, flanked by Adare Manor on her outside and Divine Huntress saving ground inside. Luna Belle, the locally based filly that entered the Black-Eyed Susan off five consecutive stakes wins, trailed all but two horses as the field entered the backstretch.
Positions remained mainly unchanged as horses reached the mid-point of the far turn, though Geroux had given Interstatedaydream her cue and they closed in on Beguine, drawing on even terms before emerging with the lead once straightened for home. Geroux set his filly down for a drive to the wire and Adare Manor, who had followed their move, was unable to match strides as Radio Days made a furious bid up the rail.
It was 2 ¾ lengths back to Divine Huntress in fourth. One of two Maryland-breds in the race, she was followed by Favor, Morning Matcha, Miss Yearwood, Distinctlypossible, Midnight Stroll, Candy Light, Luna Belle, Beguine and Missy Greer.
Interstatedaydream, by Classic Empire out of the Uncle Mo mare Babcock, broke her maiden at first asking last June at Belmont Park. She raced once more at 2, finishing second as the favorite in the 6 ½-furlong Adirondack (G2) at Saratoga, before getting the rest of the year off.
The Ontario-bred Interstatedaydream opened her 3-year-old season March 13 at Oaklawn Park, romping by 8 ¼ lengths in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer. She remained at the distance for the April 8 Ashland (G1) at Keeneland, her stakes debut in which she ran third behind subsequent Kentucky Oaks favorite Nest. Cox kept his filly out of the Oaks by design to point for Pimlico.
Luna Belle, Maryland’s 2-year-old champion filly of 2021 based at nearby Laurel Park with trainer Hamilton Smith, suffered her first loss this year. She had strung together wins in the Maryland Juvenile Fillies in mid-December followed by the Jan. 29 Xtra Heat, Feb. 19 Wide Country, March 19 Beyond the Wire and April 16 Weber City Miss, the latter earning her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan.
First run in 1919 as the Pimlico Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan was renamed in 1952 to honor the Preakness and Maryland’s state flower. Among its winners are Nellie Morse, who later became the only filly to then win the Preakness; Hall of Famers Gallorette, Twilight Tear, Davona Dale, Real Delight, Royal Delta, Serena’s Song and Silverbulletday; and divisional champions Vagrancy, But Why Not and Wistful.
$250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Quotes
Winning trainer Brad Cox, Interstatedaydream (by phone): “I’m just very proud of her. She stepped up and ran a huge race. I was very shocked to see she was the price she was going into the gate. She wasn’t getting a lot of respect, and I really thought she fit well with this group. Congratulations to [owner] Staton Flurry. It was a big effort and I thought Florent did a good job of getting a good early position. Her last two works have been phenomenal, and she showed up and ran a big race.”
(On passing the Kentucky Oaks (G1): “She just wasn’t ready for it. It would have been back a little too quick, throwing too much at her too quick. I thought this made the most sense.”
Winning jockey Florent Geroux, Interstatedaydream: “That’s good when they break like that and put you in a good spot, that helps a lot. She was very comfortable during the race and she had something left down the lane.
“There was no game plan. I thought there would be a couple of fillies, especially on the inside, who would have gone. I was really expecting Adare Manor to be a little bit forwardly placed. But when [jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] was content to sit right off me, I just took advantage of it. I was not going to pull too hard on my filly just to let him pass. I thought my filly was great where she was.”
“I’d say top of the lane, I could tell I put away Adare Manor. My filly took a nice breather twice during the race. So, I thought there was plenty of oxygen in her lungs.”
Trainer Sean McCarthy, Adare Manor, 2nd: “She broke well and got in super position going into the first turn. We were really pleased with it. Down the backside she just kind of dropped the bridle a little bit. [Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] asked her. She responded. Coming around the turn there was a little bit of the same. He asked her again and she responded. By that time, I think the leader had a pretty good jump on us, so it was harder for our filly to run her down. Our filly didn’t stop, but the winner ran a great race, and we just couldn’t catch up to her.”
Jockey John Velazquez, Adare Manor, 2nd: “We had good position throughout, but I had to work hard for her to get there. There was a good pace. She was moving real good, I just couldn’t get to the winner.”
Jockey Joel Rosario, Radio Days, 3rd: “I saved ground on the first turn, and they went fast. On the backside, I was making up ground, but had to check a bit at the three-eighths pole. Turning for home, she was coming and moving really well to the end.”
Trainer Graham Motion, Divine Huntress, 4th: “I thought the winner ran great. Turning for home, I thought we would get a piece of it, but I was very pleased with her effort. I was happy with her. It showed she belonged with these.”
Trainer/co-owner Hamilton Smith, Luna Belle, 11th: “It wasn’t any good. The jockey [Denis Araujo] said she didn’t pick it up at all. She didn’t break well, and he said she was acting like she was a little flat and dull. I don’t know why. She was doing great coming in.
“We will check her out and see. I don’t have any excuse other than she got outrun. It was very disappointing. I was hoping she would have had a good showing, and to finish as far back as she did wasn’t a good showing. She is better than what she ran today, I know that. We have a lot of opportunities in front of us, some Maryland-bred stuff, a lot of races we can choose from.
“This is her home track, she was born, bred and raised here in Maryland. We had a big following, so it’s a disappointing effort. The main thing is that she comes back good. We’ll be alright. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary other than she didn’t break good. I expected her to be a lot closer earlier, sixth, seventh, something like that. But she was all the way back next to last almost. I told my partner [co-owner Deborah S. Greene] she is not going to run good today.”
Trainer Dan Peitz, pacesetter Beguine, 12th: “I’m not sure what happened. It looked like she might have been bothered around the three-eighths pole but I’m not sure until I watch the replay. It was disappointing.”