Acting Happy, ridden by Jose Lezcano, wins the Black-Eyed Susan… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
Acting Happy, a lightly raced filly with the smallest earnings in the field, powered into the lead in the stretch and outran No Such Word to the finish line to win the $175,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Friday.
The race was marred by an accident leaving the backstretch in which two jockeys were thrown and one horse went down, and the incident could have implications for today's Preakness.
The problem started when Diva Delite clipped heels with C C's Pal and fell, throwing jockey Julien Leparoux. In trying to avoid Leparoux, Seeking the Title unseated Kent Desormeaux and continued down the track. Desormeaux, who will ride Paddy O'Prado in the Preakness, escaped injury, but Leparoux received medical attention on the track and was taken to Sinai Hospital for examination.
Leparoux has no broken bones after being examined at Sinai, according to his friend, Fanny Salmon. The Eclipse Award winner is bruised with sore muscles but is expected to ride today at Pimlico. The 26-year-old has eight mounts on the Preakness card, including Pleasant Prince in the middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown.
Desormeaux was left to explain the spill. "What happened was, the horse in front of us just wheeled out and that horse and a horse that was beside me seemed to tangle," he said. "I tried to attempt to miss the fallen rider, and my horse's hind leg got tangled up with the fallen horse. Instead of going 40, we went from 40 to 30 in one stride and that pitched me over her ears and I couldn't hold on. I escaped from injury, but I fear for Julien. I don't think he's going to be so lucky, because he's in a lot of pain right now."
For Acting Happy and former Maryland trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., the Grade II race went without a hitch. Speed held on Friday's card, and Dutrow told jockey Jose Lezcano to get his filly near the lead.
Acting Happy broke second and followed Khancord Kid too wide at the quarter pole. When Khancord Kid gave way, Dutrow's horse delivered a strong kick and outran No Such Word to the finish, winning by a length and a half.
"Just because this track has been favoring speed today," Dutrow said, "I said, 'Jose, let's give her a little incentive early on. I don't want you to send her, but let's just put her in the game.' And she stayed there. … She'll run all day long."
It was the first stakes race for Acting Happy, who didn't run in 2009 and had raced only three times this season with one win. She paid $22.20, running the 11/8 miles in 1minute, 50seconds.
"This used to be a prime-time race for 3-year-old fillies," Dutrow said. "Even though it's come down a little bit, we're very proud to win this race. I could've run her up in New York in a stakes, but I just figured, two turns, a mile and an eighth, it's going to be more what she's looking for."
No Such Word was second, and Tidal Pool, the 2-1 favorite, ran third under jockey Calvin Borel.