Always Shopping seeks third straight stakes score in Black-Eyed Susan

The Grade II, $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is among several lucrative stakes races being offered at Pimlico racecourse on their Preakness eve program this Friday. The 1 1/8-mile event for three-year-old fillies drew a field of nine. Post time for the Black-Eyed Susan, Race 11 of 14, is 4:48 p.m. ET.

#6 ALWAYS SHOPPING (4-1) has a good shot to give trainer Todd Pletcher his record-breaking fifth Black-Eyed Susan victory. It took her four starts to find the win column, but the late-blooming daughter of Awesome Again prevailed in Aqueduct’s Busanda Stakes in her three-year-old bow. ALWAYS SHOPPING returned in a similar spot two months later, taking Aqueduct’s Gazelle Stakes by a widening 1 3/4 lengths. Manny Franco is aboard a filly that can handle the distance and won’t get caught in a potential pace duel. ALWAYS SHOPPING is a solid top pick.

#8 POINT OF HONOR (5-2, morning-line favorite) was a dull fourth in the Gulfstream Park Oaks last time out, but the pace in that heat was on the slow side. Prior to that effort she was 2-for-2 lifetime, highlighted by a victory in Tampa’s Suncoast Stakes. POINT OF HONOR shouldn’t mind picking up an extra half-furlong in the Black-Eyed Susan; Javier Castellano maintains the assignment.

#7 BRILL (5-1) is still in search of her first win outside of maiden company (5-1-1-2), but she’s hit the ticket in each of her last three starts. Her most recent effort was a decent third in an eleven-horse renewal of the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn. BRILL stalked a fast pace in that one and lacked a late rally. If Florent Geroux can relax his mount in a race with plenty of pace rivals in the mix, BRILL can hit the board once more in the Black-Eyed Susan.

The play: $3 exacta 6/7,8, $2 exacta box 6/8 ($10)

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