Friday, May 15, 2009

Casanova Move can raise profile

By David Grening
Daily Racing Form

BALTIMORE -- With Rachel Alexandra slated to run against the boys in Saturday's $1 million Preakness, Friday's $150,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico offers seven 3-year-old fillies a terrific opportunity to win a graded race.

Though nine were entered in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan, only seven are expected to run in the 1 1/8-mile race. Ashland winner Hooh Why will scratch to look at other opportunities, while Oro Blanco was officially scratched Wednesday to run in the $50,000 Hilltop Stakes, a turf race immediately following the Black-Eyed Susan.

With the elimination of the Pimlico Special, the Black-Eyed Susan is the featured event on a 13-race Pimlico card that begins at 12:15 p.m. and includes five other stakes. It is also the first leg of a Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness double, a $2 minimum bet. All of Friday's races can be viewed on HRTV.

Though Casanova Move has lost seven straight races and remains eligible for a first-level allowance, she could go off the favorite in the Black-Eyed Susan. This winter, Casanova Move raced four times at Gulfstream Park, with second-place finishes to Justwhistledixie in the Davona Dale and Bonnie Miss -- both Grade 2 events -- to her credit.

"She keeps moving up in company and running good. I don't know what more you could expect from her than that," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "I'm happy with the way she ran in Florida. I thought she was gaining gradually at the end of her last race. It doesn't look like distance is a problem."

Casanova Move has tactical speed, but Jerkens would prefer not to see her on the lead. Horses such as Stage Trick, Bon Jovi Girl, or perhaps Payton d'Oro might end up setting the early pace.

Payton d'Oro, trained by Larry Jones, has reeled off three consecutive victories, all coinciding with her being stretched out around two turns. Those three races were at a mile. This will be her first try at 1 1/8 miles.

"I don't see that being an issue," Jones said. "She runs off farther than that every morning. She's undefeated around two turns."

Jones added, "I love the way my filly is training up to this race."

Terry Thompson, aboard for all of Payton d'Oro's previous seven starts, will ride Payton d'Oro from the rail.

Last year, the New York-bred Sweet Vendetta won the Black-Eyed Susan at 7-1. This year, the New York-bred Don't Forget Gil is a strong factor in the race. Don't Forget Gil's victory in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay makes her the only graded stakes winner in the field. That race was run around two turns at 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. In her most recent start, Don't Forget Gil finished second to a loose-on-the-lead Dream Play in the Grade 2 Comely, a one-turn mile race run over a sloppy Aqueduct main track.

"I think one turn is just not what she's built to do, especially on a sloppy track," trainer Mark Hennig said. "She's certainly a much better filly when you let her do what she's comfortable doing the first part of it."

Completing the field are Stone Legacy -- who finished second, 20 1/4 lengths behind Rachel Alexandra, in the Kentucky Oaks -- and Combinate, winless in two starts this year.

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