black_eye_susan_logoFrom a Maryland Jockey Club release

A total of 277 horses were nominated for eight stakes worth $1.18 million that highlight a spectacular Black-Eyed Susan Day program Friday at Pimlico Race Course.

To accompany the races, highlighted by the 91st running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies, Pimlico plays host its annual Ultimate Girls Day Out, an entire day dedicated to the spirit and strength of women held on the eve of the 140th Preakness Stakes (G1).

Kentucky Oaks (G1) champion Lovely Maria; fellow Grade 1 winners Angela Renee, By the Moon, Callback and Condo Commando; and graded stakes winners Birdatthewire, Cavorting, Cristina’s Journey, Feathered, I’m a Chatterbox and Include Betty are among the 40 nominees for the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan.


Also under consideration for the race are Luminance, second in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) in April; Ahh Chocolate, unbeaten in two starts; Grade 2-placed Danessa Deluxe and Divine Dawn; and Grade 3-placed Lady Zuzu from Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Multiple Grade 1 winner Bayern tops the list of 48 horses nominated for the 45th running of the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for horses 3 and up. He is joined by V. E. Day, winner of the 2014 Travers (G1), and graded stakes winners Albano, Call Me George, Commissioner, East Hall, Effinex, Red Rifle, Sky Kingdom, Tapiture and Vyack.

Kid Cruz, winner of the Private Terms and Federico Tesio and eighth in the Preakness last year, is expected to make his next start in the 1 3/16-mile Special, run at the same distance as the $1.5 million Preakness. April 18 Tesio winner Bodhisattva, still under consideration for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, is also nominated.

Page McKenney, an ex-claimer turned multiple stakes winner by Pimlico-based trainer Mary Eppler; and Talk Show Man, unbeaten in two starts this year including a gutsy victory in the Henry Clark April 18 for trainer Hamilton Smith, represent the local hopefuls.

Popular multiple stakes-winning Maryland-bred Ben’s Cat, trained by Hall of Famer-elect King Leatherbury, returns to defend his title in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up on the grass. Now 9, Ben’s Cat has won 26 stakes and more than $2.3 million from 46 lifetime starts, and will be the honorary postmaster at the annual Alibi Breakfast on Thursday, May 14.

Among the 27 horses nominated to challenge Ben’s Cat are Bold Thunder, who spoiled Ben’s Cat 2015 debut in an April 17 allowance at Pimlico, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Hootenanny and Grade 3 winner Happy My Way.

Fillies 3 years old will go six furlongs in the $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness Stakes (G3). A total of 40 horses were nominated including Grade 2 winner Cavorting; Get the Sensation, a winner of three straight at Charles Town; and South Florida-based speedster Lady Shipman, who ran her win streak to four straight with a runaway victory in the Stormy Blues April 18 at Pimlico.


A 10 ½-length winner of the $75,000 Geisha Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies April 18, Brenda’s Way tops a list of 31 nominees in the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/8 miles. Grade 1 winners Stopchargingmaria, Princess Violet and Molly Morgan; Grade 2 winners Fortunate Pearl, Gold Medal Dancer and Sheer Drama; Grade 3 winner House Rules; and 2014 Korean Derby and Oaks winner Queen’s Blade are also nominated.

Twenty-nine fillies and mares 3 and up were nominated for the six-furlong, $100,000 Skipat Stakes led by Classic Point, a winner of three straight including the Go For Wand (G3) and Inside Information (G2); Laurel Park-based Barbara Fritchie (G2) winner Lady Sabelia; and graded stakes winners Merry Meadow and R Free Roll.

The 43rd renewal of the $100,000 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf drew 50 nominations, including Sunset Glow, winner of the Del Mar Debutante (G1) who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) last year; Sweetest Chant (G3) winner Consumer Credit and graded stakes-placed Isabella Sings and Miss Temple City.

Rounding out the stakes is the $30,000 Kattegat’s Pride Starter Handicap for Maryland-bred fillies 3 and up at 1 1/16 miles, which attracted 12 nominations.