Miss Marissa, trained by James Ryerson and ridden by Daniel Centeno, held off heavy favorite Bonny South to capture the 96th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.
Bonny South, which came into the race a 4-5 favorite, got sandwiched at the gate and spent most of the 1 1/8-mile race in last place before finding her way to the outside to make a later charge. But Miss Marissa, who at 8-1 paid $22.20, was able to hold off the late charge to win by less than one length. Hopeful Growth finished third and Mizzen Beau came across in fourth.
“She’s very fast,” said Ryerson. “The fractions are going to be reasonably fast with her up near the lead, so I wasn’t too concerned and she ran great.”
Traditionally run on Preakness Eve and originally scheduled for May 15, the $250,000 Grade II 1 1/8-mile race was repositioned to serve as part of the undercard of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday’s effort was Miss Marissa’s third straight win in six 2020 races and her fourth in her career. She came into the race with $173,000 in career earnings.
For Bonny South, this marks her second second-place finish this year to go with two wins in five races.
To celebrate the life and legacy of George E. Mitchell, a community advocate in Park Heights who died in July, the Maryland Jockey Club announced the introduction of the “George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.”
Mitchell’s contributions were recognized as his family members were in attendance Saturday and presented Miss Marissa owner Alfonso Camarota with the trophy.
A graduate of Mervo and Morgan State, Mitchell served in the U.S. Army and earned a master’s degree at Saint Leo University.
From 2017 until his death at the age of 65, Mitchell oversaw the Langston Hughes Community, Business and Resource Center, a nonprofit community service program for all ages. He also served as president of Neighborhoods United, an organization created in 2014 to help bring positive change to Northwest Baltimore.
This past week, veteran exercise rider Annie Finney, a Baltimore County native, hoped to be working with the eventual Preakness Stakes winner after getting a call from Art Collector trainer Tommy Drury to look after the horse upon its Pimlico arrival on Tuesday.
Last month, Art Collector was a popular pick to win the Kentucky Derby before getting scratched during the week due to a heel injury. The Blue Grass winner came into the Preakness Stakes, his first Triple Crown race, with the second best odds at 2-1, but finished fourth with 11-1 long shot Swiss Skydiver claiming the win.
Finney, an Oldfields School graduate from Ruxton, started riding when she was 7 years old and competed in steeplechase races in her teens. She went on to spend 11 years working for trainer Todd Pletcher in New York before returning home five years ago.
Finney prepped Art Collector with a 1 ½-mile gallop Thursday morning, noting: “He’s very easy to ride. He pretty much does everything on his own, which works out great for me.”
Local jockey Jevian Toledo made the most of his mount at the Preakness Stakes, riding Jesus' Team to a third-place finish in the 11-horse field.
It was the second Preakness ride for 24-year-old Toledo, who took ninth with Awesome Speed in 2016. At 40-1, Jesus' Team paid $12.20 for the show finish.
“He ran big. He’s a really nice horse," Toledo said. "I got a really nice trip, I can’t complain. He gave me everything he had. We had no excuse. The other two horses were just much the best, but he was running all the way to the wire. It’s exciting; third in the Preakness. He’s a nice horse, a beautiful horse. He tries all the time.”
Three other local riders — Sheldon Russell, Horacio Karamanos and Trevor McCarthy – finished out of the money.
Russell, on Excession, finished sixth; Karamanos, in his Preakness debut, rode Ny Traffic to a ninth-place finish; and McCarthy’s Liveyourbeastlife was 11th.