LOCALS EYE BLACK-EYED SUSAN WITH A ‘PURPOSE’
Maryland-bred, based Walkwithapurpose looks to rebound in 89th renewal of Grade 2, 3-year-old filly feature
BALTIMORE, 05-12-13—Five weeks after a disappointing loss in her graded stakes debut, Walkwithapurpose returns to more familiar surroundings in Friday’s $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico Race Course.
Foaled at Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Md., a half-hour’s drive from Pimlico, Walkwithapurpose will take on eight challengers in the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan, led by Grade 1 winner and 9-5 program favorite Emollient.
One of Pimlico’s oldest stakes races, first run as the Pimlico Oaks in 1919, the Black-Eyed Susan will be contested 10th on a 13-race card that features seven stakes, including the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3), which returned from a four-year hiatus in 2012.
Also on Friday’s card is the Xpressbet Jockey Challenge, newly formatted to pit four each of the top male and female riders in competition, and the Lady Legends for the Cure IV, presented by Wells Fargo. A pari-mutuel event with eight retired female riding pioneers, the race is run as part of joint effort between Pimlico and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer organization.
A bay daughter of Candy Ride, Walkwithapurpose took a five-race win streak into the Gazelle (G2) on April 6 at Aqueduct, her first race outside of Maryland. Despite some early trouble, she raced near the lead before drifting wide in the stretch and finishing third, beaten seven lengths.
“The saddle slipped coming out of the gate,” trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Correas said. “I don’t know what she hit or what happened, but it slipped. It was the first time she was going a mile and an eighth, the first time going two turns, the first time for a lot of stuff.
“Being locals, we are home, so she already has experience over the track. I think that’s a different thing. There’s some very good competitors in the race, but it should be better this time. She’s been doing very good.”
Though Walkwithapurpose has never raced at Pimlico, she has trained daily over the track since Correas moved his string from Laurel Park in late March, including a bullet half-mile breeze in :47.40 on May 10.
“Compared to the way she went into the Gazelle, I would say she is more comfortable now here at Pimlico,” Correas said. “We moved from Laurel to Pimlico like 15 days before the Gazelle, and she didn’t really enjoy the change that much. But, now, she feels at home again, and she’s training really good.”
Third in her debut last September at Timonium, Walkwithapurpose reeled off three straight wins to end her 2-year-old season, capped by an eight-length romp in the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Dec. 31 at Laurel Park.
This year, she extended her win streak to five with victories in the $125,000 Wide Country Stakes and the $150,000 Caesar’s Wish Stakes, both at Laurel, by 14 ¼ lengths combined.
“We knew that she had talent. I cannot tell you that from the get-go I knew she was going to be the kind of filly that she is,” Correas said. “I said after the Maryland [JFC] that we will point to the Black-Eyed Susan, because she hinted enough at that point to think that it was doable. I think we are participating in this race in a good spot. She could be here and not be as good as she is, but she is a very, very nice filly.”
Founded in 1925, Sagamore Farm was brought to prominence by A.G. Vanderbilt during more than five decades under his guidance, ending in 1986. In 2007, the farm was purchased by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, a native of Maryland.
“I think it would be a dream come true for all of us,” Correas said of a Black-Eyed Susan victory. “For Kevin, he’s a big fan of Maryland, so it would be an honor. For us, it’s a very big race. This is only the second crop that we bred. The fact that we are there already makes the farm proud, and being there with a shot. Winning would be a cherry on the top.”
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for owner Juddmonte Farms, Emollient has won two of three starts this year, most recently going gate to wire in the $500,000 Ashland (G1) over the all-weather track at Keeneland on April 6. An allowance winner to begin her 3-year-old campaign, she was second in the $250,000 Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct last November.
Winner of the $100,000 Santa Ysabel (G3) on a wet-fast surface at Santa Anita on Jan. 26, Fiftyshadesofhay tuned up for the race with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.20 on May 10 at Churchill Downs, the fastest of 27 horses.
“We shipped her to Kentucky, but she really didn’t ship well. Now, she’s doing really well,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “She’s had a couple of works. Her last work was nice, so we decided to take a shot at it.”
The Black-Eyed Susan field, from the rail out: Manuka Honey (John Terranova, Edgar Prado), 10-1; Lady Banks (James Lawrence, Julian Pimentel), 30-1; Fiftyshadesofhay (Bob Baffert, Joel Rosario), 2-1; Petit Trianon (Juan Vazquez, Victor Carrasco), 20-1; Walkwithapurpose (Ignacio Correas, Jose Lezcano), 5-1; Maracuya (Ralph Nicks, John Velazquez), 6-1; Emollient (Bill Mott, Mike Smith), 9-5; Toasting (Tom Albertrani, Javier Castellano), 20-1; Marathon Lady (Steve Hobby, Robby Albarado), 12-1.