Interstate Daydream drives to Black-Eyed Susan win

“How do you let Brad Cox go off at 6-1 with a horse whose only bad race was in a Grade 1?” one trainer mused after bettors had let the Brad Cox-trained Interstatedaydream do just that.

It was a good question, particularly after the three-year-old daughter of Classic Empire took command in upper stretch and went on to post a 1 ¼-length victory in the 98th running of the $250,000, Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Saturday at Pimlico.

“I’m just very proud of her,” Cox said. “She stepped up and ran a huge race. I was very shocked to see she was the price she was going into the gate. She wasn’t getting a lot of respect, and I really thought she fit well with this group.”

Local hopeful Luna Belle, off just a tick over Interstate Daydream at 7-1, finished 11th of 13.

“It wasn’t any good,” said Luna Belle’s trainer and co-owner Hamilton Smith. “The jockey [Denis Araujo] said she didn’t pick it up at all. She didn’t break well, and he said she was acting like she was a little flat and dull.”

Interstatedaydream was neither flat nor dull. She entered Saturday’s contest with a pair of wins from four career starts. Her two defeats had come in graded stakes company: a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga last summer and a third-place finish behind Nest in the Grade 1 Ashland last out.

Under jockey Florent Geroux, Interstatedaydream was away alertly to press the early pace of Beguine, who tugged the field through sharp early fractions: 46.65 seconds for the half,1:10.46 for three quarters. Interstatedaydream was perched outside that runner, just a length back, after the latter marker.

She took over as the field entered the stretch, consigning Beguine to a fading 12th-place finish, and finished up the nine furlongs in 1:48.73. Post-time favorite Adare Manor, off at 2-1, was second, while Radio Days rallied into third.

“I’d say top of the lane, I could tell I put away Adare Manor,” Geroux said. “My filly took a nice breather twice during the race. So I thought there was plenty of oxygen in her lungs.”

Adare Manor originally was in the barn of suspended trainer Bob Baffert, who conditioned her to a 13-length win in the Las Virgenes. She then shifted into Tim Yakteen’s barn and suffered an upset, at odds of 7-10, in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks. She arrived in Maryland with trainer Sean McCarthy.

“Our filly didn’t stop, but the winner ran a great race,” McCarthy said. “We just couldn’t catch up to her.”

Interstatedaydream now has three wins in five outings and earnings of $351,225. Staton Flurry’s Flurry Racing Stables LLC purchased her for $175,000 as a two-year-old last April  She’s out of the Uncle Mo mare Babcock.

Interstatedaydream paid $14.20 to win. The one-dollar exacta returned $30.70. Geroux won a pair of graded stakes on the day, scoring in the Grade 3 Allaire DuPont aboard the super-impressive Super Quick.

For Team Luna Belle, meanwhile, it was a moment to lick wounds and look to the future. The daughter of Great Notion had won five consecutive local stakes prior to the Black-Eyed Susan.

“She is better than what she ran today, I know that,” Smith said. “We have a lot of opportunities in front of us, some Maryland-bred stuff, a lot of races we can choose from… The main thing is she comes back good. We’ll be all right.”

Interstate Daydream

Interstate Daydream powered to victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Photo Allison Janezic.