She had a cool name and a hot jockey, but Fiftyshadesofhay didn't look like she had much of a chance for most of Friday's 89th Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Riding the 3-year-old filly for the first time, Joel Rosario also gave the horse a new reputation for being able to win coming from behind.
Running near the back of the six-horse back for most of the one and an eighth-mile race, the Bob Baffert-trained horse chased down Marathon Lady to win by a neck in 1:53.73.
Leading until the backstretch, Maracuya was passed by Marathon Lady on the backstretch and then by Fiftyshadesofhay, who paid $6.60 to win. Toasting wound up third.
"That's a whole new dimension for this filly," said Mike Pegran, Fiftyshadesofhay part-owner.
The victory was the second for Fiftyshadesofhay since she broke her maiden last November at Hollywood Park in California. It was also the first time anyone aside from Rafael Bejarano had been aboard.
Baffert didn't like his horse's chances as the race unfolded.
"I wasn't sure turning for home [that she would win] because I told Rosario that she usually runs 1-2-3, but ride her the way you feel you should ride her," Baffert said. "Rosario sort of did his own thing today, but it was the right thing."
Rosario did what he has been doing a lot lately. He didn't come from as far off the pack as he did nearly two weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby on Orb, but he still had ground to make up in catching the two horses down the stretch.
"It was kind of a perfect trip, but she was kind of slowing a little bit from the dirt in her face," said Rosario, who will try to become the first jockey to win both the Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness on the same weekend since Mike Smith in 1993. "I got her on the outside and she looked really comfortable."
But Rosario also wasn't sure he was going to be able to chase down Marathon Lady.
"When I turned for home I never thought I was going to get there," Rosario said. "When I passed the 16th pole I could see the horse in front of me was backing up a little bit so I was in good shape."
It was the second Black-Eyed Susan win for Pegran, who said he was "dead happy" and credited Rosario with helping Fiftyshadesofhay get to the finish line first.
The 25-year-old from Santo Domingo, the leading rider at Keeneland this spring, immediately followed up with a win in the Hilltop Stakes on Emotional Kitten, giving him five wins since the Derby.
"He's just riding with so much confidence, he's a great rider and he proved it again today just like he did at the Derby," said Pegran, whose Silver Bullet Day won the Black-Eyed Susan in 1999.
Marathon Lady trainer Steve Hobby didn't seem too disappointed by the results.
"She ran huge," Hobby said of Marathon Lady, who paid $8.40 to place. "She ran her tail off. She had a great trip. I don't know what we could have done anything different."
Emmolient, who went off as a 4-5 favorite, stumbled out of the gate.
"It was pretty much over for us after that," said Smith, whose horse finished sixth.
The rest of the field was long gone, the frontrunners caught in the end by the horse with the cool name and the hot jockey.
The horse added to her repertoire.
The jockey added to his quickly growing win total.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times