As Richard Bahde stood in front of the cupola at Pimlico Race Course and held the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes trophy over his head, a whirlwind of emotions filled his mind.
“I was thinking ‘You’ve come a long way, baby,’ ” Bahde said.
What started 30 years ago owning horses at the bullrings of Nebraska finally generated a coveted initial graded stakes win as Taxed, a $50,000 claim for Bahde and trainer Randy Morse, pulled away in the stretch to record a decisive 3 3/4-length victory in the $300,000 George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies May 19.
Gold Standard Racing Stable’s Hoosier Philly was second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of the 3-5 favorite Faiza, who suffered her first loss in six starts for trainer Bob Baffert.
“I’m still in a state of shock,” said Bahde, who owns eight horses, including babies and a mare. “We expected something good to happen but you never expect to win a classic race like this. We’re thrilled and couldn’t be happier.”
Taxed, a Collected filly bred by Brereton Jones in Kentucky, looked the part of a Longines Kentucky Oaks starter when she rallied to finish second in the April 1 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park. But she missed out on a spot in the 14-horse field when she tied with 2-year-old champion Wonder Wheel for the final berth in the race, losing out on the tie-breaker, non-restricted stakes earnings.
That put the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan squarely on Morse’s radar for the daughter of the Yankee Gentleman mare Yankee Union.
“Her last two breezes, especially the most recent one, were outstanding. Horses just don’t breeze better than that,” Morse said. “She’s filling out and maturing. We got very lucky.”
Landing Taxed through the claim box was especially fortunate as she was dropped into a Nov. 20 maiden claimer at Churchill Downs by original trainer Matt Shirer after she was seventh and then sixth in her first two starts in maiden special weight races.
“Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. I had seen her train and she is nice-looking,” Morse said. “Fortunately, Mr. Bahde lets me do things like that, so he deserves all of the credit.”
Hoosier Philly set the pace in the distaff feature on Preakness weekend as she finally reverted to her 2-year-old form when she was 3-for-3 and her connections toyed with the idea of tackling the boys at 3. After finishing fourth in the Fair Grounds Oaks Presented by Fasig-Tipton and third in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes presented by Fasig-Tipton, losing by nearly 24 lengths, the daughter of Into Mischief led by 1 1/2 lengths after fractions of :23.44, :47.24, and 1:11.28. Merlazza and Faiza were in closest pursuit, but could not reel in the Tom Amoss-trained filly.
That job fell to Taxed and jockey Rafael Bejarano, who were sixth after the opening half-mile then moved four wide on the final turn and started picking off fillies. Second by a length at the eighth pole, Taxed grabbed the lead approaching the sixteenth pole and was never threatened.
Sent off at 11-1 odds ($24), Taxed was timed in 1:49.45 for the 1 1/8 miles.
“Any time you win a race, it’s good,” Morse said, “but it’s especially good when you win a race like this.”