2023 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes: Taxed pays surprise dividend

One filly kept her unbeaten record and one lost her unbeaten record at Pimlico on Friday, with upset winner Taxed pushing the hitherto flawless Faiza into third place as she made her stakes breakthrough in the feature 2023 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. It was plain sailing for Maple Leaf Mel as she extended her perfect streak to four in the G3 Miss Preakness, while Rattle N Roll came out on top by a nose in a battle royal for the G3 Pimlico Special.

Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

G2, $300,000, 1m 1f dirt, 3yo fillies

Taxed pays surprise dividend

With an impeccable sense of timing, Taxed rose to the challenge of the toughest test of her career to make an impressive stakes breakthrough in the Black-Eyed Susan, causing an upset when proving far too strong for Hoosier Philly and disappointing odds-on favourite Faiza in the main event at Pimlico on Friday.

The grey filly had drawn a blank in her previous four stakes but stepped right up here, the 11-1 fifth-choice sitting in midfield under Rafael Bejarano as second-choice Hoosier Philly laid down the fractions. Faiza moved up to challenge around the turn but her effort was short-lived and she gave up her unbeaten streak without a fight, and instead it was Taxed who went after the front-runner.

She got to the leader before the sixteenth-pole and put her away in a heartbeat, drawing off to score by a widening three and three-quarter lengths, although this was a much-improved effort from the revitalised Hoosier Philly after two poor performances on the Kentucky Oaks trail. Faiza kept on one-paced for the show, another two and three-quarter lengths adrift.

“She’s been training like a really good horse,” said trainer Randy Morse, winning his first Graded stakes for nine years. “Ever since we took the blinkers off [two starts ago] she’s been a different horse.”

Taxed missed out on a place in the Kentucky Oaks on earnings, having tied on points for the final place in the field with champion juvenile filly Wonder Wheel. This was just the second victory of her eight-race career, the other being a maiden claimer on her third start, after which she was claimed by Morse for just $50,000.

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Taxed takes the 2023 Black-Eyed Susan #Horseracing #Horsesoftiktok #Horeseracing #Horse #Horses #FYP #Sports

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2023 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Taxed24.008.804.00
2. Hoosier Philly 7.804.20
3. Faiza  2.20

Winning time: 1m 49.45s

Pimlico Special

G3, $250,000, 1m 3/16 dirt, 3yo+

Rattle keeps on rolling

Former Kentucky Derby contender Rattle N Roll has really found his niche at a lower level and duelled his way to a third G3 success in the Pimlico Special, outbattling the game Speed Bias to grab the dollars by a nose as even-money favourite.

A G1 winner as a juvenile, Rattle N Roll didn’t make it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May last year, but steadily rebuilt his career through the rest of 2022 and into this spring and is blossoming now.

Speed Bias lived up to his name on the lead and was still in front as they straightened for home, where Rattle N Roll moved to join him after coming from the back of the pack three wide around the turn. Down the stretch there was nothing between them, no quarter asked and none given, and they were both still running hard as they hit the wire with Rattle N Roll’s nose in the right place at the right time. Clapton was best of the rest, four and a quarter lengths further back.

“It was a good battle,” said jockey Flavien Prat. “He was brave today, he left it all out on the track because the other horse just didn’t want to quit.”

Rattle N Roll was improving his resume to seven-for-17, with his other G3 wins coming in last month’s Ben Ali at Keeneland and last year’s Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. His trainer Kenny McPeek has a tough and consistent horse now and will likely turn him around quickly for the G3 Blame over a mile-eighth at Churchill Downs on June 3.

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The Rattle N Roll wis the Pimlico Special #Horseracing #Horsesoftiktok #Horeseracing #Horse #Horses #FYP #Sports

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2023 Pimlico Special Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Rattle N Roll4.202.602.20
2. Speed Bias 5.604.00
3. Clapton  4.20

Winning time: 1m 54.72s

Miss Preakness Stakes

G3, $150,000, 6f dirt, 3yo fillies

Maple Leaf rags rivals

Horse racing is not an easy game but Maple Leaf Mel certainly makes it look simple, and she stretched her unbeaten streak to four with another all-the-way breeze to beat Topsy and rank outsider L Street Lady in the Miss Preakness.

Maple Leaf Mel has led at every call in all her four races and there was no stopping her here, the 9-5 second-choice pulling her way to the lead after 100 yards and making the best of her way home from there. She opened up at the top of the stretch and cruised through the lane, winning under a Joel Rosario hand-ride by a length-and-a-half margin that did not indicate the extent of her superiority.

Topsy and L Street Lady rallied from some way back to hit the board, three and a half lengths between them, but odds-on favourite Key Of Life paid the price for trying to keep tabs on the winner and dropped away from the eighth-pole, finishing a weary fifth.

“I figured she could run with whoever we put her against,” said trainer Jerry Englehart, this being Maple Leaf Mel’s first start outside state-bred company. “This was her true test and she passed it.”

The victory was Maple Leaf Mel’s first at Graded level, on the back of two stakes wins at Saratoga and Aqueduct, and the next rung on the ladder is expected to be the G3 Victory Ride at Belmont Park on July 8. Englehart is also eyeing the seven-furlong G1 Test at Saratoga on August 5 as the filly’s main target this summer.

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Maple Leaf Mel takes the Miss Preakness Stakes #Horseracing #Horsesoftiktok #Horeseracing #Horse #Horses #FYP #Sports

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2023 Miss Preakness Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Maple Leaf Mel5.403.603.20
2. Topsy 7.004.80
3. L Street Lady  11.60

Winning time: 1m 09.56s

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