Bob Baffert seemed pessimistic about Mamma Kimbo's chances of winning the 88th Black-Eyed Susan Friday, mainly because the previously unbeaten filly had never raced more than 1 1/16 miles before coming to Pimlico Race Course. The bettors who helped make Mamma Kimbo even money to win were confident.
Baffert is a Hall of Fame trainer for a reason.
Leading from the start and seemingly on her way to a third straight victory, Baffert's lightly-raced filly faded badly over the final two furlongs and finished fourth, well behind In Lingerie. It was the third win in four starts for In Lingerie.
Despite stumbling out of the gate and apparently popping a blood vessel in the pastern — or foot — In Lingerie finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of stablemate Disposablepleasure to win the $300,000 race. Wildcat's Smile, with former Pimlico regular Rosie Napravnik aboard, finished third.
"That's was a big effort to run 1-2 like that," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "We were pretty concerned at the start because one of the things Johnny (Velasquez, the jockey) and I talked about in the paddock was that she might have to make a wide sweep. It took her a little while to settle into stride and Johnny had no choice but to put her out pretty wide on the backside."
Pletcher said after the race he had considered running in the Kentucky Oaks prior to the Kentucky Derby, but opted for the Black-Eyed Susan instead.
"We decided that we were running out of time a little bit with an inexperienced filly, and that this was a better move," Pletcher said. "Her future is all in front of her."
Asked about In Lingerie's apparent foot injury, Pletcher said, "One of those things, she caught it just right and it looks worse than it is."
The distance proved to be no problem for Inlingerie, who finished the nine furlongs in 1:52:07 and paid $9.80 to win.
"A mile and an eighth was not a concern for us, but it's nice to get a trip like that," Pletcher said after his third Black-Eyed Susan victory, following Spun Sugar in 2005 and Panty Raid in 2007.
Baffert's pre-race prediction about Mamma Kimbo proved correct.
"It's a little too far for her," Baffert said. "She was trying, it's just a little too far. She can get it with the right conditions. I knew it was a little bit beyond her limitations. She's a good filly and I'd like to keep her a little bit shorter."
Said Mike Smith, who rode Mamma Kimbo, "She broke well and was well within herself early. Things were going OK, but it just wasn't our day. I guess it wasn't a good trip."
Pletcher also seemed pleased with Disposablepleasure's performance.
"I thought she ran a huge race," Pletcher said. "She kind of got squeezed a little bit at the top of the stretch, but she kept running and gave a real good account of herself. She ran more than a respectable race. She finally ran the way we expected her to all winter."
Pimlico Special: Alternation by a nose over Nehro
If Friday's $300,000 Pimlico Special was a prelude for what might happen Saturday in the 137th Preakness Stakes, it could be a pretty exciting finish to the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown.
Returning after a three-year absence, the day's 12th race lived up to its name and its winner lived up to his grandsire's legacy.
Alternation, a 4-year-old whose maternal bloodlines go back to 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, chased down Endorsement on the back stretch and held off Nehro by a nose to win his fifth straight race. Endorsement lost by a neck to finish third.
"Wow! That got a little bit tight at the end," said Donnie K. Von Hemel, Alternation's trainer. "I don't know if we got it or not, but fortunately we got the bob."
Said Nehro trainer Steve Asmussen, "He was very unlucky to lose the head-bob like that. But ran great."
Alternation paid $10.80 to win.