Keen Pauline Pulls Off Upset in Black-Eyed Susan
Keen Pauline Pulls Off Upset in Black-Eyed Susan: Going off at 15/1, despite Stonestreet Farms and jockey Javier Castellano behind her, Keen Pauline won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII) for her first career graded stakes victory today at Pimlico. This was the filly’s first stakes attempt ever. Previously, she finished third in an allowance race, and only had one maiden win to her credit overall.
In an unexpected twist, Keen Pauline cleared the field from the outside post position and set the pace. The fractions were not fast. She opened up in 24.37 seconds and took them through a 49.09 half mile. Meanwhile, Gypsey Judy chased in second and the favorite Luminance settled close to the rail in third. Many handicappers expected Luminance to set the pace. In a move that might make some bettors mad, the chart comments note Luminance was “rated back approaching the first turn.”
On the far turn, Castellano appeared confident in his mount and Keen Pauline held her advantage. Gypsey Judy faded and Luminance only ran evenly. From the back, closers such as Ahh Chocolate, Include Betty and Danessa Deluxe made their rallies. The six furlong fraction went in 1:13 flat and Keen Pauline reached the one mile point in 1:37.85. Under continued urging from Castellano, Keen Pauline kept the closers at bay and won the race in 1:50.46. According to the press release, assistant trainer Tammy Fox sounded ecstatic about the trip Keen Pauline received.
“He knew how fast he was going. That helped a lot,” Fox said. “When you can see a horse’s ears just pricked like that and he’s sitting. He did a great job on her.”
Castellano was surprised he set the pace, and completely expected Luminance to handle the job of leading the field.
“You have to take advantage when anything happens in a race,” Castellano said. “I didn’t expect to be on the lead.”
The closers ran admirably. Include Betty, who had a nightmare trip in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), got up for second by just a half length over the previously undefeated Ahh Chocolate. Danessa Deluxe finished well enough for fourth after being rank on the first turn.
Luminance deserves another chance to route, but her pedigree looked suspect before the race. She has now faded in both attempts over one mile. The Southern California fillies also struggled in general during the past two weeks, as Santa Anita Oaks (GI) winner Stellar Wind only managed fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, and now the second place finisher Luminance ran fifth in the Black-Eyed Susan. Trainer Bob Baffert was not happy with jockey Martin Garcia’s ride.
“I told (Martin Garcia), ‘You just took her best weapon away from her.’ She needed the lead,” a displeased Baffert said. “She couldn’t get it, so after that she wasn’t effective at all. We would have preferred to be on the lead.”
Bettors ignored Keen Pauline for various reasons. Her speed figures were well below the ones seen on Luminance’s form. Plus, the aforementioned lack of stakes experience tends to wave off people, especially when the right speed figures are not there to make up for lack of experience. She finished in front of I’m a Chatterbox at Churchill Downs last year, which hinted at this filly’s ability because that one turned into a powerhouse at Fair Grounds. In addition, most of her poor speed figures were earned as a two-year-old, when horses still develop. Her last start before the Black-Eyed Susan came in a six furlong sprint and the numbers earned in shorter races are not good predictors of whether a horse can improve in a route.
Keen Pauline is a Pulpit filly out of Grand Pauline, a daughter of Two Punch. Dale Romans is the winning trainer. She paid $32.80 to win, $10.80 to place and $5.80 to show. Include Betty paid $5.40 to place and $3.40 to show. Ahh Chocolate paid $4.40 to show. The three-year-old filly division is heating up and fans can only hope Keen Pauline takes on Kentucky Oaks champion Lovely Maria and I’m a Chatterbox again down the road.
Black-Eyed Susan Stakes 2015 Replay: