I know, I know. When we were handicapping the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, we all thought there was a ton of speed in the race, only to watch in disbelief as Serengeti Empress shook loose on an uncontested lead and won in gate-to-wire fashion.
But that frustrating turn of events won’t stop me from making the same declaration about Friday’s $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico. Five of the nine entrants in the 1 1/8-mile race have shown a tendency to race on or near the lead, which could lend an advantage to my late-running top choice #8 Point of Honor.
As a daughter of Curlin out of a Bernardini mare, Point of Honor is bred to improve with maturity, though her pedigree didn’t prevent her from winning her debut by six widening lengths going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park in December. Two months later the George Weaver-trained filly came back to score a convincing 2 3/4-length victory in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Unfortunately Point of Honor failed to qualify for the Kentucky Oaks when she finished fourth at a short price in the March 30 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). On a day when speed was holding on the main track, Point of Honor had little chance to rally from behind in a slow-paced event. She did close ground resiliently to finish just two lengths behind the winner, though, when the top three finishers dominated the race on the front end.
A more favorable pace setup in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes could be all Point of Honor needs to rebound. She’s actually earned triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace ratings in all three of her starts, so you know she’ll be finishing strong down the lane, especially while stretching out to nine furlongs. Toss in the services of the four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano, and I think Point of Honor is the filly to beat.
My wagering strategy will be straightforward. I’ll bet Point of Honor to win and also play her on top of the exacta and trifecta, with a few other logical candidates underneath. Among them will be #4 Cookie Dough, who finished third after setting the pace in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, and #6 Always Shopping, the Gazelle Stakes (G2) winner who skipped the Kentucky Oaks to target this race instead.
$15 to win on #8 Point of Honor
$3 exacta: 8 with 4,6 ($6)
$1.50 trifecta: 8 with 4,6 with 3,4,6,7 ($9)