Hanson: 2023 Black-Eyed Susan Day Spot Plays

May 19th, 2023

The relative quality of the offerings vary in both the overnight and stakes scheduled for Pimlico on Friday and Saturday, but Preakness weekend should nonetheless prove a highly popular product for bettors across the country.

The following horses strike my fancy as win bet propositions on Friday's Black-Eyed Susan Day card, which begins at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Race 1

After spending the winter at Turfway park racing over a surface he generally dislikes, #6 Juulstone (10-1) showed more signs of life returning to the grass last time at Keeneland, finishing within three lengths of the winner in an N1X allowance composed of horses presumably better than the ones he meets here. While his turf form is also a touch spotty, that was a good-looking N2L claiming win at Saratoga last summer. A repeat of that effort would be good enough to contend here at a price.

Race 3

Never mind that #2 Watch This Birdie (4-1) lost two maiden races restricted to Arkansas-breds over the winter and was a no-show at Keeneland last time. By far the best race of her career was her runner-up debut over the turf at Colonial Downs last July, and she finally gets back on the grass here. Note, too, the filly that beat her at Colonial was Danse Macabre, who has since gone on to win three stakes, including one at Grade 3 level.

Race 5

#7 Roses for Debra (9-2) crossed the wire first in the first four starts of her career at Presque Isle Downs last year before tasting defeat at Keeneland in October when trying dirt. There is enough in her pedigree to suggest she might transfer her synthetic form to the grass as she's a half-sister to a turf stakes winner and her second dam won a Grade 2 over the Woodbine turf. A likely hot pace should also benefit this recent addition to the Christophe Clement barn.

Race 7

#2 Doctor Davis (15-1) has spent the bulk of his career as a late-closing sprinter, but this race seems a good opportunity to test his two-turn prowess for the first time since his maiden days. The Arnaud Delacour trainee owns a win on the turf and enjoyed good form at Turfway over the winter, with the exception of his latest start in late February. The gelding enters fresh for this N2X allowance and, with only nine starts behind, remains with more upside than most of the competition.

Race 9

The presence of two Wesley Ward entrants as well as defending titlist and horse-for-the-course Can the Queen makes this an intriguing edition of the $100,000 The Very One S., but #5 Thundering Creed (6-1) gets the nod. Although she enters having not run since December, there's no disputing the quality of her two previous attempts on the turf. She upset a money allowance field at Kentucky Downs in her first try over the surface last fall, and then finished second in the Franklin (G3) to Caravel, who went on to land the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

Race 11

Not going to sleep on the possibility of #3 Aspray (8-1) developing into a useful stakes type for trainer Chad Brown in this renewal of the $100,000 Hilltop S. for three-year-old fillies. Admittedly wasn't beating much in either of her two victories over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs, one off the turf and the other on, but likely better to come and her price presumably will be fair. Her Group 2-winning and French classic-placed dam, Up, has already reared a pair of Group-placed runners in Europe and is herself a half-sister to multiple Group 1 winner Dutch Art.