Federico Tesio Attracts Three KyDerby Prep Veterans

April 19, 2024

Perform (#7 pink/blue cap) wins last year’s Federico Tesio, giving him an automatic birth in the Preakness (Jim McCue/MJC) 

By Ashley Tamulonis

Named for the famous Italian breeder, the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” race for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. Contested at 1 1/8-mile, the Federico Tesio is hosted by Laurel Park while the Preakness (G1) is held at Pimlico Race Course.

While Tesio is notably the single greatest breeder in Italian history by most, his influence extends beyond the borders of one of Europe’s oldest and most historical countries. Notable champions bred by Tesio include Nearco, Ribot, Braque, and Cavaliere d’Arpino. Ribot, a two-time winner of the Group Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, was a homebred for Tesio and directly descended from Cavaliere d’Arpino.

Ribot was eventually leased to Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky while Nearco was purchased by Martin Benson for a then record £60,000. Nearco stood at stud at Beech House Stud in England. Both stallions would go on to be influential and prominent in the pedigrees of some of the United States’s greatest racehorses, including Secretariat, who still holds the time records for all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The Federico Tesio stakes may be ungraded, but it has produced some notable runners. Happy Saver, winner of the 2020 edition of the race, went on to win the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in his very next start. He would then go on to run second in the 2021 Jockey Club Gold Cup, the 2021 Grade 1 Clark Stakes, the 2022 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, and the 2022 Grade 1 Whitney Stakes. Ruler on Ice, who was second in the 2011 Federico Tesio, upset the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in his next start and then hit the board in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Happy Saver scoring the Tesio 2020. (Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC)

Other famed runners that ran in the Federico Tesio include 1988 Grade 1 Wood Memorial Invitational Stakes winner Private Terms, multiple grade one winner and influential sire Broad Brush, multiple grade one winner Deputed Testamony, and multiple millionaire producer Dixieland Band.

This year’s edition of the Federico Tesio Stakes attracted a field of eleven, including several colts that we’ve already seen run in some of this year’s Kentucky Derby preps. Contenders that we’ve previously seen on the Road to the Kentucky Derby are Lat Long, Inveigled, and Copper Tax. While they may have the class advantage, this race isn’t likely to be a cake walk. Here is the field for this year’s local Grade 1 Preakness Stakes prep.

  1. Speedyness (Great Notion-Hartigan, by Include) Trained by Jamie Ness and ridden by Jaime Rodriguez, this gelding is a local runner. He only has one start away from Laurel Park and carries a record of 9: 5-0-2 at the Maryland track. A confirmed front-runner, Speedyness was most recently 3rd in the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes. After doing all the early leg work, Speedyness was caught late by Copper Tax and Inveigled, beaten for it all by a neck. That was Speedyness’s second loss to Copper Tax; however, he has traded wins and losses with Circle P on at least three occasions. The 101 Equibase speed figure that the gelding earned in the Private Terms is one of the best numbers in the field, and he’ll have the advantage of being the inside speed. Contender.
  2. Celtic Contender (Irish War Cry-Celtic Katie, by Posse) Trained by Hamilton Smith and ridden by Jevian Toledo, Celtic Contender also exits the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes. The chestnut colt was 3rd on debut, finishing 2 ¼-lengths behind Startswithadream. For his second start, Celtic Contender was dropped down into maiden claiming and dominated by 10 ½-lengths. The Private Terms was his third career start, and it did not go well for him. He was fractious, and like in his previous two races, encountered trouble during the race. He ended up finishing 8th of nine, beaten by 18 ½-lengths. Smith is just 10% in non-graded stakes but lands in the money at a 45% clip over the last year, per Racing LensPass.
  3. Circle P (Speightster-Quiet Inferno, by Quiet American). Trained by Flint Stites and ridden by Sheldon Russell for the first time, Circle P is another local entrant with a record of 5: 2-0-2 at Laurel Park. He also exits the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes, where he was 4th, beaten by 2 ½-lengths. As previously alluded to, Circle P has lost to Speedyness twice while also running 4th to that rival’s 3rd last out. The gelding did win the state-bred, $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Stakes; however, trainer Stites is just 6% in non-graded stakes with a 41% rate at landing in the money over the last year, according to Race Lens. Circle P will run with blinkers on for the first time. Stites wins at a 33% clip with a 67% rate in the money with first time blinkers and at a 25% clip and a 50% rate in the money with blinkers on. Use underneath.
  4. Startswithadream (Always Dreaming-Aspen Whisper, by Mr. Greeley) Trained by James Lawrence II and ridden by Jeiron Barbosa, Startswithadream is yet another that exits the $100,000 Private Terms. The colt was a debut winner for Lawrence II, beating Celtic Contender by 2 ¾-lengths. However, Startswithadream failed to hit the board in his next two starts, both stakes races. He was 4th in the $100,000 Miracle Woods Stakes, beaten by 3-lengths by winner SpeedynessCircle P was 3rd in that race. Last out, Startswithadream encountered trouble at both the start and towards the end of the race, winding up 5th in the Private Terms, beaten 6 ½-lengths with four of his Federico Tesio rivals finishing ahead of him. Lawrence II is 0% in non-graded stakes with an in the money clip of 33%. Pass.
  5. Classic Joke (Practical Joke-Caramel Candy, by Candy Ride (ARG)) Trained by Richard Sillaman and ridden by Daniel Centeno, Classic Joke is coming into this race off a dismal effort in the $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct. Prior to that he had a pair of wins, a maiden-breaking effort over Inveigled in his third start and a win in an optional claimer. In that optional claimer, Classic Joke did beat Catalytic, who ran a well-beaten 2nd to Fierceness in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. However, he was beaten by lesser competition in the Bay Shore and will being asked to run a route race for the first time. In the last year, Sillaman is 6% with a 35% in the money rate with sprint-to-route runners and is 0% with a 20% in the money rate in non-graded stakes races, per Race LensPass.
  6. Mission Beach (Curlin-Stoweshoe, by Flatter) Trained by Brittany Russel, Mission Beach currently does not have a jockey assigned to him. The colt has two wins from six starts and has been off the board in his previous four attempts in stakes company. He was 5th, beaten by 5-lengths in the Grade 1 Hopeful; 4th, beaten by 28-lengths in the Grade 3 Bob Hope; 7th, beaten by 13 ½-lengths in the Grade 3 Withers; and was most recently 4th, beaten by 6-lengths, in the $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes. While Brittany Russell is one of the top trainers on the Maryland circuit, this race is not a good fit for this son of Curlin. Pass.
  7. Lat Long (Liam’s Map-Amen Sista, by Street Cry {IRE}) Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Horacio Karamanos for the first time, Lat Long enters off a 9th place finish in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, beaten by 14-lengths by top Kentucky Derby contender Sierra Leone. It took the colt five attempts to break his maiden, but once he did, he managed to run 3rd in the Grade 3 Lecomte in his very next start. The Blue Grass was the first time Lat Long had ever run off the board, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the colt just had a bad day. Given his consistency prior to running at Keeneland, he seems to be a solid play underneath.
  8. Malinois (Dortmund-Never Know, by Tomorrows Cat) Trained by Phillip Capuano, Malinois also has no assigned jockey. However, this gelded son of Dortmund enters this race off a three-race win streak, though it’s worth noting that those wins came in maiden claiming, claiming, and optional claiming company. Over the last year, Capuano has been 0-for-8 in non-graded stakes with a 25% in the money rate. Malinois will be coming off Lasix. Pass.
  9. Carolo Rapido (Curlin-Cathryn Sophia, by Street Boss) Well-bred and trained by Todd Pletcher with Jorge Ruiz in the irons for the first time, Carolo Rapido enters off a maiden win here at Laurel after a pair of off-the-board finishes at Aqueduct. The colt’s debut race produced two next-out winners, and his second race produced another next-out winner along with Carolo Rapido himself. As for his last race, only three of his six rivals have had subsequent races, and only one hit the board in their next race. It’s really hard to ignore Pletcher at a second-tier racetrack, and Carolo Rapido’s Equibase speed figures have improved with each start. This could be a live longshot.
  10. Inveigled (Enticed-Kitty Quality, by Quality Road) Trained by Jane Cibelli and ridden by Mychel Sanchez, Inveigled was out-finished by Copper Tax in the $100,000 Private Terms, his second loss to said rival. He was only beaten by a neck, but he barely passed pace-setting Speedyness despite receiving an ideal trip and having the jump on Copper Tax. He could also only manage 4th in both the $150,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes and the Grade 3 Holy Bull down at Gulfstream. Over the past year, Cibelli is 0-for-4 in non-graded stakes but does finish in the money at a 50% clip. I’m not in love with this gelding’s chances, but he has the ability to hit the board. Use underneath.
  11. Copper Tax (Copper Bullet-Wilhelmina, by Majestic Warrior) Trained by Gary Capuano and ridden by J. G. Torrealba, Copper Tax has been an exacta machine except when it comes to graded stakes. The colt rattled off five straight wins, including the $100,000 Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park and the $100,000 James F. Lewis III right here at laurel, after losing his debut by just a neck. In the Grade 2 Remsen, Copper Bullet finished 6th, beaten by 14 ¾-lengths, and he finished 10th, beaten by 19 ½-lengths, in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis to begin his 2024 campaign. Cupuano dropped him down in class for his last outing, and Copper Tax responded with a neck victory in the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes. He had to work really hard for the win, though, initially losing ground before making steady progress despite going wide off the far turn. While he had won in the mud in previous starts, those tracks were listed as muddy (sealed), whereas Laurel’s track on Private Terms day was labeled as sloppy (sealed), so that’s a possibility as to why it took him so long to get going. I’m concerned that that race took a lot out of him as he posted a career and field-best 102 Equibase speed figure, but I still consider him a contender.

This is an interesting field to say the least. Of the four in the field that have already tried the Federico Tesio distance of 1 1/8-mile, not one of them managed to hit the board. Carolo Rapido had the best finish at the distance, checking in 4th, beaten by 7-lengths, in a maiden race. 

We have a trio of need-the-lead types: Speedyness, Classic Joke, and Malinois. Speedyness is the best of the bunch with a 101 Equibase speed figure while coming in 3rd in the Private Terms. He has the advantage of the rail draw and has only been off the board at Laurel Park twice in nine starts.

The three runners exiting the Road to the Kentucky Derby are the three favorites here, as they should be given the drop in class here. Lat Long earned tepid morning line favoritism at 5-2 despite finishing 9th in the Grade 1 Blue Grass. Copper Tax is the second choice at 7-2 off his huge effort in the local prep, the Private Terms. Inveigled, who lost by just a neck to Copper Tax in the Private Terms, is the third choice at 9-2.

Speedyness scoring the Miracle Wood. (MJC Photo)

I anticipate Speedyness getting the early lead and trying to wire the field. However, he was run down in the shadow of the wire in the Private Terms, and, given the extra distance, is likely to get worn down late again. Copper Tax really ground out the win in the Private Terms, earning a career and field-best 102 Equibase speed figure. He’s earned a couple of 98s in previous races, but this effort resulted in a huge jump in numbers. He had only earned a 64 in his prior race, the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes. He’s fully capable of winning this, but he in a position to bounce off that Private Terms effort. Despite that, he is still a huge win threat here.

The must plays here are Speedyness, Circle P, Lat Long, Carolo Rapido, Inveigled, and Copper Tax, with Speedyness and Copper Tax on top with the remaining quartet being used underneath. 

The Federico Tesio is the 10th race on Laurel’s eleven-race Saturday card. Post time is at approximately 5:09 p.m. Chances for rain over the next few days are minor, so look for a fast track.

Contributing Authors

Ashley Tamulonis

Ashley Tamulonis

Ashley has been an avid horse racing fan since she was introduced to the sport through the Joanna Campbell series "Thoroughbred." As a Georgia native...

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