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Red Ruby cruises past Coach Rocks to win Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico

It doesn’t get a lot of attention, but the Black-Eyed Susan is the centerpiece of the Friday card before the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. In theory, it’s the second leg of the filly Triple Crown.

In the nine-horse field, though, only one filly — Coach Rocks — also ran in the Kentucky Oaks, which is run the day before the Kentucky Derby.

Coach Rocks finished second, 4 3/4 lengths behind Red Ruby, in the $250,000 race. Red Ruby stalked Coach Rocks until the far turn when she accelerated and eventually cruised home for the easy win.

Kellyn Gorder did something not many trainers do on race day. He worked his horse, which he something he did March 1 at Oaklawn Park.

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“In the Honeybee [she got really hot in the post parade, so I trained her [Friday] morning,” Gorder said. “I just took her out there right off the straightaway and let her slow gallop around the backside and the turn and let her go through her gears, up to third gear, and shut her down. I think that might have helped her.”

Paco Lopez was the winning jockey. The filly paid $7.80, $4.00 and $3.20. Indy Union finished third. The favorite, Sara Street, finished fourth.

“I thought Coach Rocks ran super,” trainer Dale Romans said of his runner-up filly who finished seventh in the Kentucky Oaks. “She’s just going to get better and better and we’ll head to the Alabama Stakes [at Saratoga] next probably. That’s a good filly that beat us, but we’ll fight another day.”

Gorder indicated that the Alabama might also be next for Red Ruby.

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“How we get there, I’m not sure,” Gorder said.

Derby memories

Irish War Cry, who went off in last year’s Kentucky Derby at 9-2, finally won again when he took the $300,000 Pimlico Special by 4 1/2 lengths. Irish War Cry finished 10th in the Derby and was winless in his next five races. Untrapped, who ran 12th in last year’s Derby, finished in a dead heat for second with One Liner.

Lacking Santa Anita horses

Saturday’s 14-race Preakness card is almost a vacuum when it comes to Southern California-based horses, trainers and jockeys. The big one is Justify, but other than that Bob Baffert has only Ax Man, who will run in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes over 1 1/16 miles. He’s the 8-5 favorite after winning an allowance in his last race. Mike Smith rides.

Run Away, for Simon Callaghan, is in the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes, which is six furlongs. Flavien Prat is riding the horse, his only mount Saturday. The horse is 12-1 on the morning line.

Bad surface

The Pimlico track was so wet Friday that 48 horses scratched from the races. Four races came off the turf, accounting for a majority of the scratches. Despite the miserable weather 48,265 fans showed up for the 14 races.

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In Maryland, races that are taken off the turf automatically get a 20% purse money increase as an enticement to keep horses from scratching. It does have to meet a required number of starters to meet the bonus requirement. The rule was brought in at the urging of Tim Ritvo, who runs all the Stronach Group tracks including Santa Anita. No such enhancement exists in California.

Santa Anita plans

Santa Anita has a 12-race card Saturday, anchored by the $100,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes for Cal-bred fillies and mares going one mile on the turf. The first post isn’t until noon, but the track opens up for early wagering on the Pimlico card at 7 a.m. The first post at Pimlico is 7:30 a.m. Pacific time.

sports@latimes.com

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