Saturday, May 16, 2009
BALTIMORE, May 15 -- Before sending Payton d'Oro out to run in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, trainer Larry Jones wondered if his horse had enough talent to win a Grade II race.
The answer became obvious very early.
Payton d'Oro led from start to finish and cruised to a 1 1/4 -length victory Friday in the $150,000 race for 3-year-old fillies. It was the filly's fourth straight win and the first of her career in a graded race.
"I was lucky enough to be on the rail, and I was able to sit until the top of the stretch," jockey Terry Thompson said. "At the top of the stretch, I hit the gas and she give me what she had and run on down through the wire pretty handily."
Payton d'Oro covered the 1 1/8 -mile course in 1:49.75.
Bon Jovi Girl closed well to finish second, ahead of 8-5 favorite Casanova Move and Stage Trick. Combinate, Stone Legacy, Renda and Don't Forget Gil followed.
Fortunately for Jones, possibly the best 3-year-old filly on the grounds of Pimlico Race Course was resting in the stakes barn at the time of the Black-Eyed Susan. Rachel Alexandra will run Saturday in the Preakness.
Payton d'Oro's three previous wins came as the favorite.
"She shows she's learning how to win," Jones said before the race. "Now we'll see what kind of level she can carry it at."
Afterward, Jones was delighted with Payton d'Oro's performance.
"This filly is very talented," he said. "We think she's got a great future."
Payton d'Oro broke quickly from the gate and set the pace along the rail. Although she was never seriously challenged, Thompson had to push the horse at the finish after Bon Jovi Girl began to close.
"Larry is the greatest guy to ride for. We had no instructions in the paddock. I was on the inside, so I wanted to go down to the first turn," Thompson said. "If somebody wanted to take the lead, I wanted them to have to use a little to get around us.
"We got the lead, and I was able to put her to sleep on the lead. No one really contested me to the top of the stretch, and I had a little bit left in the tank."
Payton d'Oro paid $7.20, $4.40 and $3.00. Bon Jovi Girl returned $7.40 and $4.20, and Casanova Move paid $2.60 to show.