Hanson: 2024 Black-Eyed Susan Day Spot Plays

May 15th, 2024

Some of the more intriguing betting races on Friday's Black-Eyed Susan Day card at Pimlico will be found in the lower-level overnight events, rather than in the stakes. I'll be leaning on them, in particular the ones scheduled for turf, to turn a profit on one of the most popular weekday cards on the racing calendar.

Race 2 (12:01 p.m. ET)

A return to grass might prove the ticket for #2 Always Gambling (10-1) in this entry-level allowance going five furlongs. Two years ago, the gray was going pretty well on the lawn at Gulfstream before things went sour on the switch to Tapeta. On the sidelines for nearly a year and a half, Always Gambling did alright in a pair of N3L claimers over the dirt at Laurel during the winter, and now gets back to what is arguably his preferred surface. His back class on it seemingly compares well with that of others.

Race 4

There are some fast horses in this five-furlong, second-level allowance for older horses. One is #6 Talented Man (12-1), who was swift enough last summer to win a Pennsylvania-bred stakes over Witty, who went on to win three stakes and is a contender in Saturday's Jim McKay Turf Sprint. That bit of hidden class might be overlooked as bettors perhaps concentrate more on his more recent form over the main track, which has been generally good but largely irrelevant in regards to this race. Speed shown in recent works suggests he might be sitting on a good one off the bench.

Race 6 (2:04 p.m. ET)

I doubt I'll get anything close to the 6-1 morning line price on #14 Mr Flowers, but the relatively mature four-year-old looks like the horse to beat in this 1 1/16-mile turf maiden composed primarily of three-year-olds. His debut effort for a $75,000 tag at Belmont nearly a year ago was solid, and while the layoff is obviously a concern, he could run the same race and win this maiden special in his belated debut for trainer Horacio De Paz.

Race 7 (2:34 p.m. ET)

This second-level allowance for fillies and mares over a mile looks like a good return spot for #1 Naval Empire (6-1). Responding well to the addition of blinkers last summer, she blew away an N1X field by four lengths at Laurel. Although she showed spotty form the rest of the season, she was generally in tougher spots most of the time and probably had an excuse when acting up before the start in her penultimate outing of the year. This filly doesn't seem to have missed a work since at least early April, a positive sign in my book.

Race 11 (The Very One S., 4:38 p.m. ET)

#8 All That Magic (5-1) has made few mistakes since switching to the turf last June, winning a stakes and allowance at Monmouth, plus additional allowances at Keeneland and Penn National. She simply didn't fire on bottomless ground against the boys in the Turf Monster (G3) at Parx three back, but ended the year on better form. Luis Saez knows this filly, she is capable on or from off the pace, and she's turned in some nice drills for trainer Kathleen DeMasi in advance of her first outing since November.

Race 14 (6:23 p.m. ET)

This second-level allowance for older horses over a mile probably goes through either the favored Brad Cox trainee or one of two trained by the high-percentage Brittany Russell. My preference is for one of the latter, #8 Curly Larry and Mo (8-1). He ran awfully well in his first two starts for Russell last summer, but threw in a dud in his 2023 finale against New York-bred company. Gelded since, he seems to be coming into this in decent shape with a string of above-average drills at Fair Hill. The lack of significant other speed might make him the one to catch under Saez.