Chamrousse hangs tough, grabs Black-Eyed Susan

Favorite rebuffs `Shop,' wins $200,000 stakes

May 18, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

With Take Charge Lady scratched, Chamrousse took charge.

The Niall O'Callaghan-trained filly inherited the favorite's role from Take Charge Lady and responded willingly, turning back a serious bid from local long shot Shop Till You Drop to win the Grade II, $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths yesterday.

Beaten twice by Take Charge Lady in graded stakes at the Fair Grounds last winter, Chamrousse scored her first stakes victory by covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.61 under Jerry Bailey.

Bailey was aboard Chamrousse for the first time in the 78th running of the Black-Eyed Susan, which helped attract a sun-soaked crowd of 12,493 to Pimlico. Another 4,032 bet at the simulcast center at Laurel Park.

Shop Till You Drop, a gritty filly trained by John Fee, battled with Chamrousse for more than a mile before conceding and settling for second. Autumn Creek was third.

"I wasn't planning on going to the front," said Bailey, who will be aboard Medaglia d'Oro in the Preakness. "I thought I'd be three or four horses off the lead. But watching her races, I saw how game she was and I wasn't going to take anything away from her running style.

"I thought she would run better with a target, but the race didn't come up that way. I've never ridden her before, but I ride 'em better that way."

It wasn't easy to put away Shop Till You Drop, winner of the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel March 10 in her previous start. Under Harry Vega, the local horse set moderate fractions for three-quarters of a mile and finally surrendered to the winner in the final eighth.

"I was able to save something for the end," said Vega. "My filly got her head in front, but I knew we didn't put the favorite away yet. She gave me a real big effort and ran true."

O'Callaghan was proud of the winner, who won her first two races, then ran third in the next three.

"Jerry said he had to work on her all the way. Johnny's [John Fee] horse was excellent as the second-place finisher, I guess we gave them an Irish exacta," said O'Callaghan, who added that "when they gave us the fence we had to go for it."

He pointed out that Chamrousse never took the bit because she is accustomed to following horses and "was out of the bridle most of the race because she had the lead and I think she wasn't quite sure what to do."

Bailey, perhaps the best rider going, knew exactly what to do.

With the weather agreeable, the Maryland handle was $9,218,839 from all outlets. That was more than $2 million more than was bet last year on Black-Eyed Susan day.

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