Bob Baffert doesn't have a horse running in the Preakness Stakes for the first time since 1995, but the flamboyant white-haired trainer won something of a consolation prize as his 3-year-old filly Yearly Report won the 80th running of the Grade II $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday at Pimlico.
Despite having won two straight stakes events going into the race, Yearly Report didn't exactly announce herself as a top runner in her division, practically crawling to victory in the 11/8-mile race in a slow time of 1 minute 52.65 seconds.
She beat local runner Pawyne Princess, a habitual front-runner who inexplicably ran from well off the pace in the Black-Eyed Susan before closing late to finish second.
"It wasn't easy, but she doesn't know how to quit," Baffert said of Yearly Report, who struggled to make the lead on the turn for jockey Jerry Bailey. "This wasn't the Preakness, but we'll take it."
The race unfolded with jockey Edgar Prado nursing Rare Gift on the lead through a half-mile in 49.71 seconds. Bailey, who kept Yearly Report in the clear on the outside, engaged the leader at the eighth pole and had to work hard to get her home in front.
"I don't think you'll ever see as slow a first half or three-quarters [of a mile] in the Black-Eyed Susan as today because everybody was acutely aware of how deep and tiring the track was," Bailey said. "Nobody was in a hurry."
* Miss Preakness Stakes: Last October, Forest Music electrified the racing world by nearly breaking the Laurel Park six-furlong track record in her debut. Owner Michael Gill put the filly in over her head in her next start and finished last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Two losses later she was put away for five months but came back Friday with a sharp victory in the Grade $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Forest Music ran the six furlongs in 1:10.97 to beat John Servis's Stephan's Angel by a head. The victory was Gill's fourth of the day.
"Her natural ability is just amazing," said trainer Mark Shuman. "I really didn't think she was ready for this, but the owner wanted to go. We definitely mismanaged her last year."
The race was marred by the breakdown of undefeated Among My Souvenirs, who was euthanized. Her jockey, Mario Pino, was thrown, but uninjured.
* Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff: Friel's for Real is based in Philadelphia but has made Maryland racetracks a home away from home. After a successful winter racing at Laurel Park, the 4-year-old filly stepped up in class Friday and won the Grade III $150,000 Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff for fillies and mares, upsetting a strong field at 11.40-to-1.
Trained by Ned Allard, Friel's for Real ran the 11/16-mile race in 1:45.03, beating Saintly Action by 21/4 lengths. The daughter of Sword Dance won only one race in 2003 and now is five for six this year.
* The Very One Stakes: On a lightning-fast turf course, 12.60-to-1 long shot Go Go Baby Go set the five-furlong track record, going wire-to-wire to win the $75,000 sprint for fillies and mares. Ridden by jockey Ryan Fogelsonger, the Philadelphia Park-based 5-year-old mare ran the distance in 56.02 seconds. Earlier on the card in an allowance race, Nortouch had set the record by running five furlongs in 56.03 seconds.