Laurel-based trainer Tim Salzman grew up in Maryland, went to Atholton High and lives and works - where else? - in Maryland. And last night he was in his backyard with his kids playing with their dogs.
So when it came time to decide whether to run his graded-stakes winning filly Bsharpsonata after just two weeks' rest off the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, he had to consider that the race he was thinking about - the Grade II, $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course - was in Maryland.
"It's been a childhood dream for me to win a race like this in Maryland," he said.
To do it, he'll have to take on not only eight other horses but history, too.
The last Maryland-trained horse to win the Black-Eyed Susan was Calipha, trained by Buddy Delp, in 1994.
"Those are some tough shoes to follow," Salzman said.
The Black-Eyed Susan is the co-headliner today on a 13-race card with the Grade I, $250,000 Maryland Lottery Pimlico Special.
The Pimlico Special, which was not carded last year, will be run over a 1 3/16-mile course and has nine older horses in the mix, including favorite A.P. Arrow, the Todd Pletcher-trained 5-2 favorite. Among those providing a challenge will be two locally trained horses, Ryan's For Real from the Dale Capuano stable at 10-1, and Xchanger, a 20-1 shot from Mark Shuman's barn.
All nine horses are stakes winners in the 41st running of the race that has been the palette for some of the most memorable moments in racing history, going back to the 1938 running that featured the stirring match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral.
"My horse is training very well up to the race," Pletcher said. "He came out of Dubai very well. A good pace up front could certainly help him."
In the Black-Eyed Susan, Salzman also is hoping for speed. Two weeks ago, Bsharpsonata found herself on the lead in the Oaks almost by default. With a "bull's-eye" on her back, she was caught down the stretch by Proud Spell and then found herself in a nose-to-nose battle that she won for fifth.
"I think we're going to let the speed go," Salzman said. "I don't know if we wanted the lead last time, but there was no speed in that race. This one has some and she likes to run at something."
Bsharpsonata is the 9-5 favorite in the 1 1/8 -mile race.
Today's card has four other stakes, including the Grade III, $100,000 Miss Preakness for 3-year-old fillies. The Pletcher-trained Passion is the 8-5 morning-line favorite.
No grind for 'Brown'
Trainer Rick Dutrow is letting his horse relax and enjoy the view from the Kentucky Derby winner's stall No. 40 at the Pimlico Stakes barn.
"I'm not looking to grind things," Dutrow said. "I'm just trying to keep him as fresh and happy as possible."
The trainer said he's confident because Big Brown has rebounded well from the Derby, eating well and running aggressively when he gets on the track for workouts. Yesterday, Big Brown galloped 1 1/2 miles.
"He was comfortable, cool and relaxed," Dutrow said. "He galloped good. I'm as happy as I can be right now."
He said Big Brown will gallop again today, weather permitting, and run a three-eighths-of-a-mile "blowout" on Preakness morning.
Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.