BALTIMORE — Take a Hall of Fame trainer, add the winning jockey in the Kentucky Derby and mix them both with a talented filly.
The result Friday was a thrilling victory for Fiftyshadesofhay in the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan.
Saddled by Bob Baffert and ridden by Joel Rosario, Fiftyshadesofhay used a late surge to overtake Marathon Lady and win the Grade 2 race for 3-year-old fillies by a neck.
The winning time over 1⅛ miles was 1:52.73.
Fiftyshadesofhay broke her maiden at Hollywood Park last year and won the Grade 3 San Ysabel at Santa Anita in January before finishing second and third in a pair of Grade 1 races.
Rafael Bejarano was the horse’s regular rider, but Baffert switched to Rosario for this race. Although it was Rosario’s first trip aboard Fiftyshadesofhay in competition, it appeared as if he knew exactly how to handle her.
“Rosario sort of did his own thing today, but it was the right thing,” Baffert said.
Fiftyshadesofhay trailed with 200 yards left before breaking outside. She was in second with 100 yards to go but outran Marathon Lady the rest of the way.
“It was kind of the perfect trip, but she was kind of slowing a little bit from the dirt in her face,” Rosario said. “When I passed the 16th pole I could see that the horse in front of me was backing up a little. That’s when I felt better.”
The winner paid $6.60, $3.80 and $3. It’s Baffert’s third career win in the Black-Eyed Susan.
Marathon Lady finished second and paid $8.40 and $4.80. Toasting returned $5.40 to show. Emollient, the favorite, was sixth in the seven-horse field.
“She stumbled out of the gate really bad, and she caught her leg,” jockey Mike Smith said.
Emollient trainer Bill Mott said, “It looked like to me she might have been fighting that race track. The main track may not be her best surface, so you might see her try the turf course next time.”
FEELING CONFIDENT: The Preakness Stakes is a homecoming for Rosie Napravnik, who won her career debut at Pimlico on June 9, 2005. She was an admittedly clueless 17-year-old who was amazed she ended up in the winner’s circle with Ringofdiamonds.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Napravnik said Friday. “Leading up to it, it was surreal that it was even happening. I didn’t know how to read a Racing Form or how to place a horse in a race. Somehow I got to the front and won. My mom was there, and it was awesome.”
Napravnik moved during the summer of 2004 from New Jersey to Maryland, where she galloped horses and learned her trade for trainers Holly Robinson and Richard Small. She had a mount for Robinson on Friday and planned to visit Small. Family members and many friends from Pimlico will be rooting for her in her first Preakness.
Napravnik will try to upset Kentucky Derby winner Orb with Mylute, who ran fifth at Churchill Downs with Napravnik aboard.
“Orb’s Derby was very impressive,” she said. “I know because we followed him the whole way. We’ll have to improve a couple lengths, but Mylute is really coming along, too.”
PIMLICO SPECIAL: Last Gunfighter fulfilled his role as the heavy favorite in the Grade 3 race, tracking down Eighttofasttocatch before pulling away to an easy victory Friday.
It was the sixth consecutive win for the dark brown colt, the third this year.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Javier Castellano, Last Gunfighter roared from behind near the final turn. He covered 13/16th miles in 1:58.50 and won by 4¼ lengths.
He paid $3.20, $2.10 and $2.10.
Eighttofasttocatch finished second, Richard’s Kid was third and Indian Dance took fourth.
Many of the finest horses in history have run in the Pimlico Special, including War Admiral in 1937 and Seabiscuit in 1938. The race was dropped in four of the previous five years because of a purse shortage.