Black-Eyed Susan Day stakes picks

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High drama always accompanies the Triple Crown season, we just didn’t expect anything like what transpired this week leading up to Maryland’s day on the big stage.

Medina Spirit’s medication violation certainly sucked all the air out of the room but the show goes on, both with the 146th Preakness Stakes and Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan and Pimlico Special Day card. Six stakes are on tap for Friday, starting with the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff at 3:07 and going all the way through the Black-Eyed Susan at 5:44.

The day starts at 11:30 a.m. EST with the first of 13 races. NBC Sports Network will carry the Black-Eyed Susan during a one-hour program that starts at 5 p.m., with Horse Racing Radio Network carrying the feature and other stakes during its coverage from 3-6 p.m.

The handicappers are back for the weekend and their picks for Friday’s six stakes are below. Heading into Black-Eyed Susan Day, The Saratoga Special’s leading handicapper John Shapazian and ST co-publisher and co-editor Sean Clancy are tied at the top with five wins apiece from Kentucky Oaks and Derby weekend. Joe Clancy, Charles Bedard, Paul Halloran, Rob Whitlock and Jessica Paquette are tied with four wins and Tom Law trails with three.

Here are the picks for Friday, May 14. Good luck.

Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3). $150,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles. Post time 3:07 p.m.

Good group for lead-off stakes. Spice Is Nice, sixth in last year’s Alabama, returned from layoff to win optional at Keeneland that sets her up for return to stakes company. Getridofwhatailesu knocked heads with the likes of Shedaresthedevil, Letruska, Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver this winter and spring at Oaklawn. No offense to this group but there aren’t any of those kind here.

John: Spice Is Nice, Horologist, Mrs. Danvers.
Tom: Spice Is Nice, Getridofwaitailesu, Horologist.
Rob: Spice Is Nice, Mrs. Danvers, Dreamalildreamforu.
Paul: Getridofwhatailesu, Horologist, Luckystride.
Joe: Horologist, Lucky Stride, Mrs. Danvers.
Charles: Mrs. Danvers, Horologist, Getridofwhatailesu. 
Jessica: Mrs. Danvers, Spice Is Nice, Horologist.
Sean: Spice Is Nice, Horologist, Mrs. Danvers. 

The Very One Stakes. $100,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 5 furlongs, turf. Post time 3:38 p.m.

Always one of our favorites, more because we like the challenge of avoiding writing the The Very One more than being fans of turf sprints. Traditional Black-Eyed Susan Day fixture often comes up strong and the 2021 renewal is no exception. Kentucky shipper Dixieincandyland, a winner on the grass at Keeneland for Eddie Kenneally, drew outside for Joel Rosario while likely second choice Caravel drew post 3 with speed to her inside and outside.

John: Dixieincandyland, Catch A Bid, Caravel.
Tom: Dixieincandyland, Victory Kingdom, Queen Of Shades.
Rob: Gogo Shoes, Epic Idea, Caravel.
Paul: Dixieincandyland, Victory Kingdom, Caravel.
Joe: Caravel, Gotta Go Mo, Dixieincandyland.
Charles: Gogo Shoes, Caravel, Queen Of Shades.
Jessica: Caravel, Catch A Bid, Victory Kingdom.
Sean: Caravel, Victory Kingdom, Dixieincandyland.

Miss Preakness Stakes (G3). $150,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs. Post time 4:09 p.m.

Abrogate, fifth two weeks ago in the Grade 2 Eight Belles, drew the rail in field of nine but still merits favorite’s role over Red Ghost, Street Lute, Joyful Cadence, Inject and others. Abrogate won the Purple Martin two starts back, defeating Joyful Cadence, and might start big weekend for Steve Asmussen. Street Lute flies the flag for the home team with seven wins in nine starts. Maryland-bred daughter of Street Magician makes her Pimlico debut.

John: Red Ghost, Inject, Joyful Cadence.
Tom: Inject, Joyful Cadence, Street Lute.
Rob: Abrogate, Paradise Song, Juror Number Four.
Paul: Abrogate, Joyful Cadence, Juror Number Four.
Joe: Joyful Cadence, Red Ghost, Euphoric.
Charles: Euphoric, Abrogate, Paradise Song.
Jessica: Red Ghost, Paradise Song, Abrograte.
Sean: Paradise Song, Red Ghost, Inject.

Hilltop Stakes. $100,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 mile, turf. Post time 4:40 p.m.

Back to the grass and a full field of 14 sophomore fillies. Seasons, the buzz of the barn area at Saratoga last summer before her debut victory, returns from layoff in first start since third in Grade 1 Natalma. Alda also ran in the Natalma, finishing fifth before a run in the Breeders’ Cuop Juvenile Fillies Turf and a turf sprint return last time out. Bubbles On Ice looked good winning her U.S. debut for Christophe Clement and Mia Martinia returns to the grass after being eased in the Grade 3 Gazelle last time out.

John: Tracy Flick, Bubbles On Ice, Mia Martina.
Tom: Seasons, Mia Martina, Alda.
Rob: Tracy Flick, Proper Attire, Bubbles On Ice.
Paul: Mia Martina, Bubbles On Ice, Phantom Vision.
Joe: Bubbles On Ice, Seasons, Alda.
Charles: Mia Martina, Bubbles On Ice, Phantom Vision.
Jessica: Seasons, Alda, Tracy Flick.
Sean: Seasons, Tracy Flick, Bubbles On Ice. 

Pimlico Special Stakes (G3). $250,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 3/16 miles. Post time 5:12 p.m.

Harpers Last Ride returns to defend title in biggest two-turn stakes for older horses in Maryland. He won in October at 5-1 before adding two more stakes to finish out the year. Solid group lines up with Fearless the deserving favorite off a win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile and runner-up to Silver State in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in his last two starts. Modernist and Max Player ran in the major 3-year-old stakes last year, the latter the lone competitor to start in each of the Triple Crown races.

John: Fearless, Modernist, Enforceable.
Tom: Fearless, Modernist, Prioritize.
Rob: Modernist, Fearless, Enforceable.
Paul: Prioritize, Fearless, Last Judgement.
Joe: Fearless, Last Judgment, Cordmaker.
Charles: Enforceable, Max Player, Last Judgement.
Jessica: Fearless, Modernist, Prioritize.
Sean: Prioritize, Fearless, Modernist.

George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2). $250,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles. Post time 5:44 p.m.

Not a single runner from the Kentucky Oaks wheeled back in two weeks but a good group nonetheless. Beautiful Gift, winner of the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel and runner-up in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks, goes for embattled trainer Bob Baffert. John Velazquez rode her in those California starts and just like with Medina Spirit he’s back aboard for start No. 3 of 2021. Adventuring starts to her inside. Her first three starts came in off-the-turf races at Fair Grounds and her fourth and most recent came on synthetic in the Bourbonette Oaks. She won those last two starts and will be tough for Brad Cox and Florent Geroux.

John: Army Wife, Adventuring, Beautiful Gift.
Tom: Beautiful Gift, Army Wife, Adventuring.
Rob: Army Wife, Forever Boss, The Grass Is Blue.
Paul: Army Wife, The Grass Is Blue, Beautiful Gift.
Joe: The Grass Is Blue, Beautiful Gift, Willful Woman.
Charles: Adventuring, Forever Boss, Beautiful Gift.
Jessica: The Grass Is Blue, Iced Latte, Adventuring.
Sean: Beautiful Gift, Iced Latte, Willful Woman.