Black-Eyed Susan: Celebrating 100 Years

Costly Shoes Runs Away to Win 1988 Edition

BALTIMORE – Ross Pearce once described the filly Costly Shoes as “tiny, but well made.” The daughter of Topsider never cast a more imposing presence than on Black-Eyed Susan Day in 1988 when she rallied inside over a sloppy track to win the 64th edition of the Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

The headline in Thoroughbred Times: Shoes Made for the Mud.

For Pearce, a Maryland native who now serves as a state steward, the victory was one of the sweetest of his career.

“It was big for my career, especially being a hometown race. It really was great,” Pearce recently recalled. “I grew up galloping horses at Pimlico then I’d go to school up the road. I’d put my little blue blazer on and tie and hike up the hill and go to school. So, it was a very big race for me.”

The son of farrier David Ross Pearce, who shod stars Seattle Slew, Pleasant Colony and Cure the Blues, Pearce was one of several trainers, including Charlie Whittingham, working in 1988 for Thomas Mellon Evans’ Buckland Farm.

Costly Shoes, a homebred daughter of stakes winner Topsider, was out of the mare Sprinkle Dollars, a Buckpasser filly Evans purchased for $140,000 at the 1978 Keeneland July selected yearling sale. Because the dam was winless in five starts, Evans christened her foal Costly Shoes.

After breaking her maiden in her debut at Delaware, Costly Shoes started her 3-year-old year with three consecutive stakes wins at Philadelphia Park and Garden State. Pearce sent Costly Shoes to Oaklawn Park, where she finished fifth in the Honey Bee.

“She didn’t run very well in the first race [the Honey Bee],” Pearce recalled. “I left her there because I wanted to run her in the Fantasy (G1). I got Pat Day to ride her. She ran third. It was a really hot day, she washed out a little in the paddock.”

In the four weeks between the Fantasy and Black-Eyed Susan, Pearce said, “I changed some things with her.” The result: a length victory over the 4-5 favorite Thirty Eight Go Go.

“She ran a really big race,” Pearce recalled, “and Pat Day rode her beautiful.”

Costly Shoes would go on to win eight of 20 starts, including the Post-Deb Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park. Pearce continued his success with Buckland, splitting his time in South Carolina training babies and working with horses in the summer in Virginia. Pearce would continue finding success conditioning graded-stakes winner including Colonial Waters, Dance Colony and Stage Colony.

But winning the Black-Eyed Susan, he admits, was special.

“I was the local guy winning,” Pearce said. “It was such a great day.”

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