Stopchargingmaria raced to a first-place triumph on Friday in the 90th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Close behind were Vero Amore and Fortune Pearl in second and third place, respectively. The duo separated from the pack of 11 total fillies to claim a large chunk of the $500,000 purse in the legendary race that dates back to 1919.
BREAKING: Stopchargingmaria wins the 90th Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Javier Castellano was aboard.— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 16, 2014
The appetizer to the main dish that is Saturday's Preakness Stakes, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes—sometimes unofficially hailed as the middle leg of the "Filly Triple Crown"—yet again lived up to its prestigious billing.
|1||4||Stopchargingmaria||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||-|
|2||10||Vero Amore||Frankie Pennington||Robert Reid Jr.||NECK|
|3||9||Fortune Pearl||Trevor McCarthy||H. Graham Motion||3|
|4||1||Joint Return||Kendrick Carmouche||John C. Servis||4 3/4|
|5||2||America||John Velazquez||William Mott||5 1/4|
|6||6||Arethusa||Rosie Napravnik||Eoin Harty||5 1/2|
|7||7||La Mejor Fiesta||Victor Espinoza||Wesley A. Ward||5 3/4|
|8||3||Shanon Nicole||Mike Smith||Michael J. Maker||8 1/4|
|9||8||Sloane Square||Joel Rosario||Todd A. Pletcher||9 1/2|
|10||5||Euphrosyne||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||13|
|11||11||Image of Anna||Luis Saez||Richard A. Violette Jr.||16|
Todd A. Pletcher's Stopchargingmaria entered as a hefty 7-2 favorite, per the NBC broadcast, with Untapable out of the proceedings. Fletcher told the media before the race, per The Sports Network, via Bradenton.com, that a win Friday would mark a return to form for Stopchargingmaria:
I think like a lot of horses, her running style didn't suit the way Gulfstream was playing at that time of the season. We shipped her to Oaklawn and she ran a little better, although I didn't think she ran to her full capabilities. Now she seems to have moved forward and has been training very enthusiastically, indicating to us that she's back in form. Hopefully, that turns out to be the case.
Suffice it to say, Pletcher's fourth win in the event has to be the best yet, after Stopchargingmaria, well, charged into first place and was able to fend off Vero Amore by a nose.
HRTV managed to capture the festivities from the winner's circle:
Also notably impressive were the sloppy conditions that Stopchargingmaria and the other fillies had to overcome, as NBC Sports Network illustrated before the race:
It's a disappointing finish for Vero Amore, as jockey Frankie Pennington had helped to hold the lead for most of the race while fending off Image of Anna before Stopchargingmaria kicked in the afterburners.
Still, the future is bright for both Vero Amore and Fortune Pearl after strong wire-to-wire showings in rather messy conditions.
Sloane Square, Pletcher's other horse in the proceedings, wound up in ninth place despite the best efforts of notable jockey Joel Rosario. He'll have to bounce back Saturday in the Preakness atop Ride On Curlin.
Speaking of jockeys warming up for the Preakness, hometown hero Rosie Napravnik (she'll mount Bayern on Saturday) was only able to manage a sixth-place finish atop Arethusa.
Here's a look at the coin that savvy bettors were able to cash in on for exotic plays:
Source: NBC broadcast
*$2 Exacta (4-10) paid $119.80; $1 Trifecta (4-10-9) paid $435.70; $1 Superfecta (4-10-9-1) paid $4,582.40.
Up next on Saturday is the finale with the 2014 Preakness Stakes, where favorite California Chrome will also look to capitalize on hefty odds in pursuit of the coveted Triple Crown.
Of course, Stopchargingmaria jockey Javier Castellano will have something to say about that as he mounts crowd favorite General A Rod. Considering he is one of the winningest jockeys this year and now has momentum to build on after Friday's triumph, it would be unwise to count out Castellano and General A Rod.
Victor Espinoza wound up a disappointing seventh atop La Mejor Fiesta on Friday but gets to climb back in the saddle once again with California Chrome to close out the weekend.