BALTIMORE (AP) — Coming off two straight disappointing performances, Stopchargingmaria returned to form in a big way.
Stopchargingmaria pulled away from Vero Amore in a two-horse stretch duel to win the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes by a neck Friday.
It was the fourth Black-Eyed Susan win for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also won this Grade 2 race for 3-year-old fillies in 2005, 2007 and 2012.
Stopchargingmaria won three of five races last year and finished in the money each outing. This year, however, she plodded to fifth in the Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park before taking fifth in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn.
Any concern Pletcher had about his horse dissipated with her dramatic victory at Pimlico.
“This was certainly her best race,” Pletcher said. “To be honest, I’m not really sure why her first two races this year didn’t go as well as last year. Today she acted like her old self.”
Stopchargingmaria, the 7-2 favorite, sat back behind pace-setter Image of Anna and angled four wide near the backstretch before driving to the finish under jockey Javier Castellano.
“It set up perfectly for us and I had a beautiful trip,” Castellano said. “We figured there would be a lot of speed and I just wanted her to be in good position. At the top of the stretch, I was pretty confident.”
Stopchargingmaria is named for owner Mike Repole’s wife, Maria, who he jokingly says likes to shop a lot.
The filly paid $9.60, $5.60 and $4.
Pletcher didn’t stop there. Later Friday, he saddled Revolutionary, who captured the Grade 3 Pimlico Special — the fifth win in 11 career races for the 4-year-old dark brown colt.
Vero Amore ran second early behind Image of Anna and took the lead for the first time in the stretch. But she was no match for Stopchargingmaria.
“I thought we were going to keep on going, then the horse came alongside of me and we just got beat,” jockey Frank Pennington said. “She gave me everything I could.”
Trained by Robert Reid Jr., Vero Amore was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Gazelle Stakes.
“I can’t believe she still is not a stakes winner,” Reid said. “What she lacks in size and maybe pedigree, she makes up in trying.”
Vero Amore paid $12.80 and $9.40, and third-place finisher Fortune Pearl returned $5.80.
“I was pleased with her race,” trainer Graham Notion said. “She won very impressively last time (May 2 at Pimlico) and she showed today that it wasn’t a fluke.”
The winning time was 1:51.79 over 1 1/8 miles on a good track. Heavy rain pelted the area in the early hours, but sunshine peeked through the clouds at the start of the race.
Joint Return, trained by John Servis, took fourth. Arethusa, with Rosie Napravnik aboard, came in sixth and Image of Anna faded to last.
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