Army Wife
Army Wife won the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan. Photo by Allison Janezic.

Army Wife broke off early in the post parade prior to the race and galloped up the homestretch ahead of the field, perhaps a precursor of what was about to happen in the Black-Eyed Susan.

Army Wife and jockey Joel Rosario rallied from mid-pack to drawn clear late to win the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths Friday at Pimlico. The $250,000 fixture is at nine furlongs on the main track for three-year-old fillies.

Longshot Lady Traveler emerged with the lead when the field broke in nearly a perfect line coming out of the gate. The top four ran without changing order or position throughout the first half of the race.  Tracking the leader was Adventuring with Florent Geroux and Beautiful Gift with John Velazquez aboard, the latter being the morning line and post time favorite trained by Bob Baffert.  The first two quarters were moderate to brisk, set in 23.71 and 46.71. 

“They looked like they had a good pace in the beginning,” winning jockey Joel Rosario explained.  “I thought I was going to be forwardly placed, but the way they were moving, I was a little farther back.”

Rosario, who had dropped Army Wife (9-2) back on the rail to sixth place from her inside post through the early going, began to move her up quickly as they headed out of the backstretch.  By midturn, Army Wife had found second place and was still gaining momentum.  She tackled Lady Traveler at the three-sixteenths pole and was hand-ridden past the wire in 1:49.63. 

“It was a decision that I had to make because they were coming back a little bit in front of me and I had horse,” Rosario added.  “I decided I needed to go because I had some room to go and just let her run her race like she always does.”

To gain second, Ricardo Santana, Jr urged Willful Women to rally ahead of Lady Traveler who held on for third.  Forever Boss was fourth with favored Beautiful Gift finishing seventh.  

“Obviously, we are disappointed.  We thought she would run a little better than that,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.   “Johnny said that when he needed horse, he just didn’t have it.  We’ll wrap things up and probably head back to California with her.”

Army Wife is by Declaration of War out of the mare Tread by Arch.  The Black-Eyed Susan is the third win of her eight-race career making her first stakes win graded. 

Joel Rosario’s third win of the day came on his first trip aboard Army Wife for trainer Michael Maker and owner Three Diamonds Farm.  Maker collected his first Black-Eyed Susan while Rosario gathered his second, having won previously with Fiftyshadesofhay in 2016.  Maker also won the Pimlico Special with Last Judgment in the race run just prior, making it quite a day. 

“I liked her chances,” Maker commented.  “The rail seemed like the spot to be today and we finally got a good trip out of her.” 

Army Wife was bred in Kentucky by J D Stuart and AR Enterprises and was a $190,000 purchase out of the Ocala 2020 Spring Two-year-old in Training Sale. She paid $11.00 to win and topped an exacta worth $63.70 for a dollar.