The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes will take place Friday, May 19, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The annual Grade II event is open to 3-year-old fillies. The race is one and one-eighth miles on a dirt left-handed track. The purse is $250,000.
Jockey John Velazquez will be riding Moana in search of a record-setting fifth win. The filly, who is a current favorite to win, is trained by Todd Pletcher, who would also be setting the record for most wins if his horse comes through.
This year, 11 horses will race in the 93rd running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Post time is scheduled for 4:50 p.m. Eastern.
Here is what you need to know:
1. It’s Named After the State Flower, the Black-Eyed Susan
The North-American plant species also known by its genus name, Rudbeckia hirta, is Maryland’s state flower. Sometimes mistaken for a sunflower (it’s in the same plant family), the petals of a Black-Eyed Susan are yellow and the flower’s center is black. Other names for this particular flower include brown Betty, English bull’s eye, and yellow daisy.
The Preakness Stakes, which is the second Triple Crown race for colts, is also called the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans,” which refers to the blanket of flowers placed on the winning horse. The flowers that are used to make the blanket are not actually Black-Eyed Susans, however, as they aren’t in bloom during the month of May. Instead, Viking poms are used.
Similarly, the Kentucky Derby is referred to as the “Run for the Roses,” which refers to the garland of roses draped over the winning horse.
2. It’s the Middle Jewel for Fillies
The three filly races that include the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park, make up the unofficially titled “Filly Triple Crown.” Meanwhile, colts run in three races at the same race courses, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. If one colt wins all three races, he is declared a Triple Crown winner.
Only three fillies have ever won all three “Filly Triple Crown” races. Wistful did so in 1949, followed by Real Delight three years later in 1952, and Davona Dale nearly three decades later in 1979. All three of these horses were owned and bred by Calumet Farm.
The filly that won the 2017 Kentucky Oaks was Bob Baffert trained, Abel Tasman, owned by Clearsky Farms. She will not be racing at Pimlico this weekend, but Baffert believes she will be ready for the Acorn Stakes in June.
“The next logical spot would be the Acorn on Belmont Stakes day. We’ll look at that but I’ll let her tell me. If she’s training like she was going into the Oaks, if she’s jumping out of her skin that would be a spot there,” Baffert said on May 12.
3. Go Maggie Go Won in 2016, Moana Is the 2017 Favorite
Trainer Todd Pletcher is working closely with jockey John Velazquez this year, going for multiple wins after scoring big at the Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming. Velazquez is tied with Chris McCarron for the record for most wins by a jockey with four at the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Pletcher is tied with Darrell Wayne Lukas for most wins by a trainer.
Velazquez will ride Always Dreaming in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. He will ride the Pletcher-trained Moana in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
Below is a list of expected contenders in the 2017 race.
4. The Cause Celebrates the ‘Spirit & Strength of Women’
Along with a horse race comes the support of a great cause. In 2017, the Maryland Jockey Club will be “celebrating women” at Pimlico.
“The Maryland Jockey Club is happy to announce the return of Black-Eyed Susan Day’s ‘Ultimate Girls Day Out,’ celebrating the spirit and strength of women, Friday, May 19 at Pimlico Race Course. The Maryland Jockey Club continues its charitable endeavors by partnering with The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, caring for Thoroughbreds following the conclusion of their racing careers, along with Susan G. Komen® Maryland shining the light on women’s health,” reads the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes website.
A portion of the money raised during Friday’s “Girls Galleria” will be donated to the Susan G. Komen (Maryland) Foundation.
5. The Black-Eyed Susan Is the Name of the Official Drink of the Preakness Stakes
The official drink of the Preakness Stakes is called the “Black-Eyed Susan.” The signature drink for the Kentucky Derby is a Mint Julep, while the Belmont Stakes lays claim to the Belmont Breeze. The cocktail’s color is reminiscent of its namesake bloom.
Below is a classic recipe for the popular race-day drink.
(1) part Bourbon
(1) part De Kuyper Peachtree
(1) part Vodka
(2) parts Orange Juice
(2) parts sour mix
Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker. Pour contents over ice, garnish with an orange slice. If you don’t like Bourbon, you can substitute rum, which is how the original version of the cocktail was made.