Gary and Mary West’s homebred Actress, a maiden prior to the start, was clearly best in Friday’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, checking sharply at the top of the lane and racing greenly down the stretch but able to hold off Lights of Medina by a head on the wire. A 3-year-old daughter of Tapit trained by Jason Servis, Actress was making just her third start but appeared to relish the sloppy going at Pimlico, caused by a torrential downpour beginning just under an hour before the race. Ridden by jockey Nik Juarez, Actress completed nine furlongs in 1:51.87.
A pace-laden race that completely fell apart in the stretch, the Black-Eyed Susan’s composition suddenly changed when the rain hit Baltimore a bit earlier than expected on Friday afternoon. Out of the starting gate, it was Tapa Tapa Tapa, Full House and Moana going at it in a three-wide battle for the lead headed into the first turn, followed by Shimmering Aspen on the rail and Summer Luck on the outside, the latter appearing to struggle with the surface, head high in the air.
Tapa Tapa Tapa got the best of the other two fillies to mark the first quarter in 23.12 seconds, quite a solid pace on the officially “sloppy” surface, with a one-length advantage over Full House in second. Shimmering Aspen began to advance along the rail, overtaking Moana for third after a half in 46.38 seconds, while Yorkipoo Princess began to advance along the outside. Farther back, Grade 1 winner Dancing Rags was the best of the deep closers early in the race scenario.
Around the far turn, after three-quarters in 1:11.56, Shimmering Aspen moved up to put the pressure on Tapa Tapa Tapa, who folded quickly. Actress suddenly appeared on the screen in-between runners nearing the head of the lane, and Juarez tried to split the two leaders aboard the rapidly-advancing filly. He was shut off and had to steady sharply, directing the filly to the outside about four paths off the rail.
Actress raced quite greenly down the lane, veering away from the whip several times while Juarez struggled to keep her running straight. Just as he got Actress into her best stride, Lights of Medina came with an enormous rally along the outside. The very game Actress was just able to hold off Lights of Medina at the wire, overcoming her traffic troubles to prevail by a head on the wire. Lights of Medina was second, with another two lengths back to Corporate Queen in third and Torrent up the rail to be fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, Actress is a daughter of the Milwaukee Brew mare Milwaukee Appeal, the Sovereign Award-winning sophomore filly of 2009. In her first two starts, Actress had managed second both times, and Servis showed a lot of confidence in the filly to start her in the Black-Eyed Susan as a maiden. She has now earned $ 170,000 with one win from three starts, and appears to be improving rapidly with each race.
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