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 11/8 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.”
Two horses scratched before the race, dropping the field to seven. Local entrant Walkwithapurpose withdrew with a bruised foot and Manuka Honey was pulled by trainer John Terranova after a lackluster workout.
Also Friday, 3-5 favorite Last Gunfighter won the Pimlico Special, blowing past Eighttofasttocatch before cruising to the finish.