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BLACK-EYED SUSAN DAY NOTES

Change of Jockey, Equipment for Midnight Disguise in Black-Eyed Susan (G2)

Afleet Willy Breezes Friday at Laurel Park for Pimlico Special (G3)

Pimlico Special Contender Rated R Superstar Works Friday in Kentucky

Good Move Makes Stakes Debut in Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3)

CHANGE OF JOCKEY, EQUIPMENT FOR MIDNIGHT DISGUISE IN BLACK-EYED SUSAN (G2)

      BALTIMORE – Drs. William Wilmot and Joan Taylor’s multiple stakes-winning homebred Midnight Disguise will have a change of rider and equipment when she returns to the races in the $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Friday, May 18 at legendary Pimlico Race Course.

The 94th running of the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies highlights a 14-race program that includes seven stakes, four graded, worth $1.15 million in purses on the eve of the 143rd Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Midnight Disguise enters the Black-Eyed Susan off a distant fourth-place finish in the April 7 Gazelle (G2) at Belmont Park under Trevor McCarthy, Maryland’s leading rider in 2014 and 2016 who moved his tack to New York this year.

“Irad Ortiz Jr. is going to ride her and we’re going to put some blinkers on her, as well,” trainer Linda Rice said. “She’s had a tendency to get a little lost. She runs behind horses and off the pace, and [wearing blinkers] just gives her a little more focus.”

Impressive back-to-back stakes wins in the 1 1/8-mile Busanda Jan. 25 and one-mile Busher March 3 at Aqueduct, both with McCarthy aboard, had the connections thinking Kentucky Oaks (G1) for Midnight Disguise, but following the Gazelle they decided to skip the May 4 race and point for Baltimore.

“She had kind of a wide trip last time and she was maybe too far off of a slow pace, so we were a bit disappointed in the race. So, we passed on the Oaks and felt we would try to rebound in the Black-eyed Susan,” Rice said. “She was just improving with each race and, frankly, her Busher race was quite impressive. She ran the best race of her life that day.

“She may have regressed off that big effort. We’re hoping we’ve given her enough time to recover because she was definitely a bit flat in the Gazelle. We’re hoping we see her back to her previous form in the Black-Eyed Susan,” she added. “I’ve always watched the Black-Eyed Susan, and it would be a thrill to win it. It’s a very historic race in Maryland, so it’s exciting to have a chance to run it.”

AFLEET WILLY BREEZES FRIDAY AT LAUREL PARK FOR PIMLICO SPECIAL (G3)

BB Horses’ Afleet Willy, fourth in the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2) last out, went an easy half-mile Friday morning at Laurel Park in anticipation of his next start in the $300,000 Pimlico Special May 18.

Afleet Willy was timed in 50 seconds for the move, his second since being beaten just 1 ½ lengths in the 1 1/8-mile Classic, run around three turns at Charles Town. The winner, Something Awesome, is also targeting the Special.

“He went good, nice and easy and he came back really happy. I was just looking for something around 50. I didn’t want anything special, and he did it so easy,” trainer Claudio Gonzalez said. “At Charles Town he ran big he came back so good, that’s why we decided to run him right back. If everything stays OK, we’re going to be there.”

Afleet Willy is a four-time stakes winner, taking the DTHA Governors Day Handicap at Delaware Park and Richard W. Small at Laurel Park last fall. This year, he won the Native Dancer and John B. Campbell in successive starts prior to the Classic.

The Pimlico Special will be the third graded-stakes attempt for Afleet Willy, a front-running 8-year-old gelding who was also sixth in the 2017 General George (G3).

“We’re looking forward to it. It’s the first time we’ve ever run in that race. He’s the best horse I have right now and he’s doing really good,” Gonzalez said. “No matter what, it’s not going to be easy because it’s such a big race. The only thing I wish is that there’s not too many speed horses. It would be perfect for me. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it would be good.”PIMLICO SPECIAL CONTENDER RATED R SUPERSTAR WORKS FRIDAY IN KENTUCKY

PIMLICO SPECIAL CONTENDER RATED R SUPERSTAR WORKS FRIDAY IN KENTUCKY

Multiple graded-stakes winner Rated R Superstar worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds in company at Churchill Downs Friday morning in preparation for the Pimlico Special. The move ranked 25th of 57 at the distance.

“He’s good to go,” trainer Ken McPeek said of Keeneland’s April 14 Ben Ali (G3) winner. “Everything is on go with him… We worked him with Brocton George, and he pretty much took him wherever he wanted him. He’s on form, this horse. He’s good right now.”

McPeek said Rated R Superstar, a 5-year-old son of Grade 1-winning sprinter Kodiak Kowboy, has thrived since being kept at longer distances with two wins and a second in four starts this year.

“He’s a little quirky. You can’t make him do anything, but he’s a horse that we kind of went back and forth whether he was a sprinter or router,” McPeek said. “I said, ‘We’ve got to stick to one or the other because he’s getting older and we’re confusing him.’ We stuck with the route plan.

“I think we’ve learned, ‘You know what? Let him do his thing the first half-mile or even three-quarters of a mile. Don’t make him do anything, don’t push on him, don’t hit him. Just let him do his thing.’ Watch his last race where [jockey] Javier [Castellano] was just such a perfect passenger, kept him happy the whole way. And then when he asked him to run, he did it all with his hands and the horse was like a bullet.”

Hall of Famer Castellano will ride Rated R Superstar back in the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special.

“His last race was great, but it did set up for him,” McPeek said. “He’s a horse that is compromised by pace. He’s going to have to have an honest pace in front of him. He’s a good solid horse. Is he going to get a lot better? I’d like to think so, but I think we’re realistic.

“I don’t think we’re going to sit here and say he’s going to be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the fall. But hey, we’re all dreamers,” he added. “We’ll try. Let’s see if he jumps through this next hoop and we’ll go from there.”GOOD MOVE MAKES STAKES DEBUT IN ADENA SPRINGS MISS PREAKNESS (G3)

GOOD MOVE MAKES STAKES DEBUT IN ADENA SPRINGS MISS PREAKNESS (G3)

Brad Cox, fresh off winning the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Monomoy Girl May 4, is sending unbeaten Good Move to next Friday’s $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

Good Move worked five-eighths of a mile in 58.80 seconds Friday morning at Churchill Downs, the fastest of 21 works at the distance.

“I think the track is a little fast,” Cox said. “She’s fast, but not normally that fast.”

A minor foot injury cost Good Move a workout and therefore a start in Keeneland’s Beaumont (G2) April 8. The options were Churchill Downs’ Eight Belles (G2) at seven furlongs Oaks undercard or the Miss Preakness.

“She was able to get over it pretty quick but not quite in time for the Beaumont or the Eight Belles,” said Cox, who won the Fair Grounds training title and tied with Wesley Ward for the Keeneland crown this spring. “We thought waiting two weeks and running three-quarters of a mile as opposed to trying the Eight Belles made sense.”

Good Move could be the latest standout produced from the small but elite broodmare band assembled by Louisville owner Richard Klein and his late parents, Bert and Elaine Klein.

Good Move is a daughter of the Kleins’ graded stakes-winning mare Change Up, who already has produced three other foals to earn six figures, including Churchill Downs’ Dogwood winner Pinch Hit.

“This filly seems to have a little more speed than Pinch Hit,” Cox said, “so hopefully she’ll make a good account of herself. She’s doing really well. I’m excited.”

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 www.pimlico.com.

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 david.joseph@marylandracing.com or call 954.658.7156.