Lady Traveller Forward Gal
Lady Traveler before the Forward Gal. Photo Gulfstream Park.

The only surprise the 3-year-old filly Lady Traveler has been to trainer Dale Romans is that, seven races into her career, she’s not already a stakes winner.

Romans is banking on changing that next Friday, when Lady Traveler runs in Pimlico Race Course’s $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at 1 1/8 miles. The bay daughter of Quality Road is out of the same Silver Deputy mare – Ask the Question – as the multiple Grade 1-winning turf horse Heart to Heart, an earner of more than $2 million in purses.

But, for all Lady Traveler has shown in the morning, she boasts only a maiden victory, though she was second in Gulfstream Park’s Forward Gal (G3) over the winter as well as the Rags to Riches last fall at Churchill Downs. In her last start, Lady Traveler was fourth in Keeneland’s Beaumont (G3) at just over seven-eighths of a mile.

“She runs fast,” Romans said. “She’s a filly who’s doing really good. We planned on this after the Keeneland race, to stretch her out. The top 14 fillies ran in the Kentucky Oaks. Very few of them will come back. I think it’s a good opportunity to win a prestigious race.”

Lady Traveler worked five-eighths of a mile at Churchill Friday morning in 59 seconds flat, the fastest of the morning. Exercise rider Tammy Fox couldn’t do her signature two thumbs up to signify an outstanding performance because her hands were full with the filly bouncing off the track.

“She couldn’t have worked better,” Romans said. “She came off the racetrack like she did nothing, and she went around there fast. I’m looking forward to getting there.”

Co-owner West Point Thoroughbreds acquired Lady Traveler for $350,000 at Keeneland’s 2019 September Yearling Sale. Heart to Heart had retired earlier that year as a double Grade 1 winner and 11-time graded-stakes winner. West Point and Mike Talla recently paid $750,000 at the OBS Spring 2-year-old sale for Ask the Question’s son by $17.4 million-earner Arrogate, matching the fifth-highest price at that auction.

“So we’re hoping she adds to his pedigree,” West Point’s executive vice president Jeff Lifson said. “Every time Tammy gets off this filly, she’s like, ‘How does she ever get beat? She never gets out of gallop and she’s cruising.’ In the afternoon, she’s graded stakes-placed, so it’s not like she’s an underachiever. But we think there’s more there. We hope there’s more there, just because she trains so beautifully and comes from a really nice family.”

Romans, who won the 2011Preakness with Shackleford, is looking for his third victory in Pimlico’s biggest 3-year-old filly race. To his mind, he’s really going for a fourth Black-Eyed Susan, but Smarty N Pretty was disqualified from first to second for interference in 2006. Romans got to keep the victories by Keen Pauline in 2015 and Go Maggie Go the next year.

“I love the weekend,” Romans said. “I think it’s the most fun weekend in racing. There’s so much pressure that goes into the Derby; it’s like a release valve when you get up there. And all those guys in the Preakness are in the same barn, and how they treat the help is phenomenal. I’m glad to be going up and have some fun.”