Earns Automatic Berth to $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2)
BALTIMORE – BB Horses’ Miss Leslie, stretched back out around two turns after opening the year with back-to-back sprints, proved trainer Claudio Gonzalez’s contention that longer is better with a 1 ½-length victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Weber City Miss at Pimlico Race Course.
The 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies co-headlined an 11-race Spring Stakes Spectacular program featuring six stakes worth $650,000 in purses with the $125,000 Federico Tesio, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 15.
In its sixth year, the Weber City Miss was being contested for the first time at Pimlico after having its first five runnings at Laurel Park. With the victory, Miss Leslie ($21.20) earned an automatic berth in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 14 at Pimlico, on the eve of the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1).
Gonzalez, a 44-year-old cancer survivor, entered Grade 2 winner Landing Zone in last year’s Black-Eyed Susan but had to scratch the morning of the race.
“Everybody wants to run in that race, and if this filly is doing good we’re going to run,” Gonzalez said. “Definitely.”
Moonsafe, a front-running 15 ¼-length maiden claiming winner in her previous start Feb. 27 at Laurel, established command early and was in front after a quarter-mile in 24.59 seconds and a half in 48.59, with 13-1 long shot Exogen in pursuit. After hopping at the gate and getting squeezed back, Miss Leslie trailed the field through six furlongs in 1:12.78.
Miss Leslie began to gain momentum around the far turn and was swung five wide by jockey J.D. Acosta approaching the stretch as Moonsafe continued to lead. Miss Leslie continued her drive and swept past horses to earn her fourth career victory and second in a stakes.
The winning time was 1:44.28 over a fast main track. Oliviaofthedesertgot up for second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Littlestitious, winner of the March 13 Beyond the Wire at Laurel and the 7-5 favorite.
Exogen, Moonsafe and Hybrid Eclipse completed the order of finish. Fraudulent Charge, second in three consecutive stakes and a 5-2 second choice on the morning line, was scratched.
“Everybody knows speed is good, and a lot of horses had speed. I told J.D., stay behind the speed and then do one move,” Gonzalez said. “He did it perfect. He rode just like we planned.”
Gonzalez claimed Miss Leslie for $25,000 out of a win last November at Laurel and won two straight starts 16 days apart with the Paynter filly, including the about 1 1/16-mile Anne Arundel County Dec. 26 at Laurel, her only previous try going two turns. This year, she ran second to Street Lute in the six-furlong Xtra Heat Jan. 16 and sixth in the seven-furlong Wide Country Feb. 20.
“You see in that time I run from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth close together, because it was the only choice, and she proved to me that she can go long. This year she ran the two races short, and she was coming, but it’s not the same as two turns. That’s why I waited for long, and I know she can do it,” Gonzalez said. “For me, a mile and a sixteenth or more is better.”
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release