Panty Raid, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Edgar Prado, split horses coming through the stretch and captured the 83rd running of the Grade II, $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course yesterday.
It was the second straight victory at a distance - and first in a graded event - for the filly, whose sire, Include, won the 2001 Pimlico Special for the late Maryland trainer Buddy Delp.
She staved off the rallying Winning Point by a length in a time of 1 minute, 50.07 seconds for 1 1/8 miles. Favorite Baroness Thatcher faded to third, a neck behind the runner-up.
"Inside the half-mile pole, Edgar was asking her for a little more," Pletcher said. "I was a little concerned at the three-eighths pole, but by the three-sixteenths, I thought she had a chance. I don't know as much that she quickened as she stayed on the same pace. That's what makes good ones. They can carry their speed over a longer distance."
Said Prado: "I started to get worried at the half-mile pole because she didn't grab the bit. I was worried around the turn as well because I couldn't get her going. But when I tapped her at the top of the stretch, she changed leads and I was happy again."
Eddie Gaudet, the veteran Maryland trainer of Winning Point, was tickled with the effort. "I'm 76 years old, and I do what I love and love what I do," he said. "I feel like a 10-year-old."
Panty Raid earned $150,000 in her third lifetime victory in five starts.
Calvin Borel, who rode in three races yesterday to acclimate himself to the Pimlico track, completed the reunion of the Street Sense connection at Pimlico.
Borel said he won't need a rail-riding trip - which he used to win the Kentucky Derby - to prevail in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
"I think he's just much the best horse and that's why he puts you in the position to have a good trip," he said. "He's the kind of horse that makes his own trips."
Street Sense galloped 1 1/4 miles over the track under exercise rider Mark Cutler.
Borel immediately made his presence felt by riding Unbridled Sidney to an easy victory in the Very One Stakes while missing the track record of 55.73 by .04 of a second.
Among the rest of the Preakness field, both Pletcher-trained horses - King of the Roxy and Circular Quay - galloped while getting accustomed to the surface, and the trainer sounded happy with their demeanor. "They've settled in well. They seem happy and had uneventful mornings," he said.
C P West was gate-schooled by trainer Nick Zito, and Curlin worked in the gate as well - plus galloped. Mint Slewlep and Hard Spun also galloped at Pimlico, and Xchanger merely walked at Fair Hill.
Local firm plays role
Without one, business sponsors and their guests can forget about getting into the corporate village at the Preakness infield.
For the past 19 years, Badges, Buttons ... Plus of Pikesville has been churning out thousands of rosettes - event credentials made of a black-eyed Susan and ribbons - for infield and sky-suite corporate guests, as well as badges for event ushers, hospitality workers, security and medical staff.
"We've always found it neat to be part of Maryland's biggest sporting event of the year," said Rich Lederman, 59, president of the family-owned and -operated business. "Because we take pride in everything we manufacture and supply, we have a grin every time we see our products."
For this year's Preakness, the company made about 3,000 plastic badges in-house that come in all shapes and colors to represent the various types of event staff and access points, respectively.
Three years ago, Lederman added holograms to the badges to prevent duplication as advanced color copiers made it easier to make unauthorized copies.
On top of the plastic badges, Lederman and his employees, including his wife, Phyllis, and their two sons, supply more than 3,000 rosette credentials as well as some 4,000 wristbands used for access to dining venues.
This year's Preakness production cycle was relatively quiet, unlike last year, when a car accidentally drove 30 feet into the firm's showroom a few weeks before the event.
"Not only did we have to contend with orders, we had to clean up the mess," Lederman said. "We had to worry about that on top of everything else."
Gloria Cinquegrani, director of corporate sales and special events for the Preakness, said Lederman's firm always has come through even with last-minute changes.
"There are times when I have clients who are going to take a corporate suite or corporate tent at the very last minute or their number increases, and [Badges, Buttons ... Plus] will turn around and have the credentials the next day," Cinquegrani said. "I don't know how they do it."
Matz is back
Trainer Michael Matz will be striving to win the Barbaro Stakes today at the scene of the breakdown of his Kentucky Derby winner last year.
He will saddle Chelokee, the favorite in the Barbaro, renamed by Pimlico management from the Sir Barton Stakes to honor Matz's late horse.
Chelokee, owned by Centennial Farms, emerged as a Derby candidate after finishing third in the Florida Derby but did not have enough earnings to qualify in Kentucky. An abscess in his foot also set him back.
Matz was considering the Preakness but settled for the Barbaro after the colt worked last Sunday.
Rubber bracelets, priced at $2, will be sold at the gates today to benefit the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Charities-Barbaro Memorial Fund. ... Steve Asmussen, who will saddle Curlin today, scored with Rolling Sea in the second-richest race on yesterday's card, the $200,000 Allaire duPont Breeders' Cup Distaff, a Grade II. ... Attendance yesterday was 25,167, and all-sources handle totaled $10,670,557.