The start was rough, but the finish was just right for Two Item Limit.
Despite being jostled leaving the gate, the filly proved again that a mile and an eighth is just her cup of tea, drawing off yesterday in the Grade II, $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the female equivalent of the Preakness.
Two Item Limit bested runner-up Indy Glory by two lengths with Tap Dance, the slight favorite, running third.
"I know at best you're supposed to race clear, but I got in behind Tap Dance and let her carry me as long as she could," said winning jockey Richard Migliore. "Then, when I pulled out [in the upper stretch], my filly just breezed. She never batted an eyelash. No matter what position you put her in, she's comfortable. She's little, but she's hickory."
The trouble occurred when early pace-setter Scoop swerved to the right after leaving the gate, causing some discomfort for Tap Dance, who was next to her in the five-horse lineup, and Two Item Limit.
"She got hit from both sides coming out of the gate and kept getting bumped," said Tap Dance's trainer Mark Hennig. "I guess they [stewards] don't look at the start anymore."
The only member of the Kentucky Oaks field to also run in the Susan, Tap Dance "got slammed coming out of the gate," confirmed jockey Jerry Bailey. "At the top of the stretch, I thought that we could still win it, but the winner had too much punch."
Indy Glory gave the victor a chase and finished gamely, but was outgunned.
"We were waiting, waiting and then she responded and finished well, but we weren't going to beat the winner," said Indy Glory's rider, Jorge Chavez.
Scoop held the lead for six furlongs after initiating the gate problem, but was eased at the end and finished last in the five-horse field.
Two Item Limit is based at Calder in Miami with trainer Stephen L. DiMauro, who also has eight horses stabled in New York.
"She loves this distance," said DiMauro, who plans to start Two Item Limit next in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park June 30. "She'll come back at a mile and an eighth. I like to space her out as much as I can."
The winning time of 1 minute, 50 4/5 seconds was respectable considering the sluggish going.
License Fee overtook front-running Crystal Sea in the stretch and captured the Grade III, $100,000 Gallorette Handicap under jockey Pat Day.
Crystal Sea got away with slow fractions that undermined the chances of defending champion Colstar - who did not hit the toteboard - but could not hold off the winner and Starine, the place horse with Jerry Bailey aboard.
The winning time for 1 1/16 miles on the turf was 1:42 4/5. "She's one of my favorite horses of all time," trainer Elliott Walden said of License Fee. "She's not blessed with tremendous speed, but she is blessed with a tremendous heart."
Trainer Paul Fout was not happy with the ride he received from Jean-Luc Samyn on Colstar. "I don't know what the jockey was thinking. They went the half in 49 and she [Colstar] is so far back there. They just didn't come back. She was left too much to do."
Graham Motion-trained Confessional, backed to 30 cents on the dollar, was all out to defeat surprising Merry Princess in the $75,000 Very One Stakes, a five-furlong dash on the turf.
A winner of more than $350,000 and six of 10 starts on grass, Confessional couldn't shake the 18-to-1 Merry Princess and prevailed by a head in :56 2/5, only a fifth of a second off the track record.
"The 9 [Merry Princess] wouldn't give up in the stretch and my horse just puts out what she needs to," said winning jockey Ramon Dominguez. "She probably could have gone faster if she had to."
The on-track crowd at Pimlico was 10,607. Adding Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway's attendance brought the total to 15,685.