By DRF.com BALTIMORE-When trainer Bob Baffert gave instructions to jockey Joel Rosario prior to Friday’s $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, he told the rider that his 3-year-old filly Fiftyshadesofhay usually likes to be in the first three positions early in the race.
When Baffert saw that Rosario had Fiftyshadesofhay in sixth position around the first turn, Baffert thought, “Oh boy, this is something new!”
But in what has become Joel Rosario’s world, Fiftyshadesofhay rallied in the stretch to wear down 12-1 leader Marathon Lady and take the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan by a neck at Pimlico Race Course. It was 4 1/2 lengths back to Toasting in third. She was followed in the order of finish by Maracuya, Petit Trianon, Emollient – the 4-5 favorite – and Lady Banks.
The win was third from nine starts for Fiftyshadesofhay, a daughter of Pulpit owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman.
It also was the third victory in the Black-Eyed Susan for Baffert. He won this race in 2004 with Yearly Report and in 1999 with Silverbulletday.
The win also kept the 28-year-old Rosario on quite the roll. It was his 14th graded stakes win of the year, eighth since April 6 including the Kentucky Derby aboard Orb. And that doesn’t count the $10 million Dubai World Cup. Rosario won 17 graded stakes in all of 2012.
“Is he a riding son of a [gun] or what?” Baffert said.
Though Fiftyshadesofhay broke well out of the gate, she was climbing from the dirt being kicked back at her and was fifth entering the first turn. Emollient, who stumbled at the start, moved up inside of Fiftyshadesofhay who was then sixth of seven around the turn.
The pace was contested, though not swift, as Maracuya ran a quarter in 23.01 seconds and a half in 48.71 while being pressed by Toasting. Marathon Lady made it three wide entering the far turn, and that rival took the lead at the quarter pole.
Meanwhile, Rosario was still in fourth and pumping to keep in contention. In the stretch, Fiftyshadesofhay was moving, but she veered toward the rail.
Inside the three-sixteenths pole, Rosario abruptly moved Fiftyshadesofhay to the outside of Toasting, and she took off after Marathon Lady and Robby Albarado, collaring that rival in the final strides.
Fiftyshadesofhay covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.73 and returned $6.60 as the 2-1 second choice.
“When I turned for home, I never thought I was going to get there,” Rosario said. “When I passed the sixteenth pole, I could see the horse in front of me she was backing up a little bit. I knew I was in good shape.”
Asked about the roll he’s on, Rosario, who will ride Orb in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, said “I love that. Just hopefully it keeps going.”
In her return to dirt following a nine-length win in the Grade 1 Ashland over Keeneland’s synthetic surface, Emollient stumbled at the start and never really gained contention after that, finishing a well-beaten sixth.
“I just think a different surface is going to suit her better,” trainer Bill Mott said. “She did stumble leaving there, which didn’t help.”