LAUREL, Md. – Cheyenne Stable’s Grade 2-placed sophomore colt Cooke Creek, exiting the first off-the-board finish of his career last month, could return to the races in the $125,000 Federico Tesio Saturday, April 16 at Laurel Park.
Trainer Jerry O’Dwyer said he nominated the son of champion Uncle Mo to the 1 1/8-mile Tesio, which for the seventh consecutive year is a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1). The 147th Preakness will be run Saturday, May 21 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Bred in Kentucky by Candy Meadows LLC, Cooke Creek was among 312 early nominees to the Triple Crown by the initial Jan. 29 deadline, at a cost of $600. The connections of seven horses paid $6,000 to nominate by the late March 28 deadline, including Laurel-based multiple stakes winner Shake Em Loose.
“I did nominate him to the Federico Tesio at Laurel. I’ll see how he breezes next week and see where we are,” O’Dwyer said. “He came off the back of a moderate run up in New York, so we gave him a little freshening up and tweaked a few things him. We’ll keep him on the work tab there and see how it goes.”
Based at Laurel from late August through the end of 2021, Cooke Creek breezed a half-mile in 49.90 seconds March 31 at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Fla. It was his second work since arriving in South Florida after running eighth following a wide trip in the 1 1/8-mile Withers (G3) Feb. 5 at Aqueduct.
“He’s been here a couple of months now. His work yesterday was very good. I was pleased with him. I rode him myself. He did everything I wanted,” O’Dwyer said. “I just wanted to check him out myself and see how he was going. He came out of the last race a little sore, a little tight behind, but he was moving superb yesterday.”
Cooke Creek won each of his first two starts, both at Delaware Park, including the one-mile Rocky Run in mid-October. He was second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths, in the Nashua (G3) in his 2-year-old finale at Belmont Park, and kicked off his sophomore campaign finishing third by two lengths in the Jan. 1 Jerome.
“He’ll definitely have his next two works down here. There’s nothing in the condition book right now for him down here, so we’ll keep an eye on him and see how he’s doing,” O’Dwyer said. “We don’t mind shipping if we have to, but we’re not in a big rush to get him back. We believe he’s still a nice horse. We’re just giving him a little chance now to get him right, and hopefully his next run will be a nice one.”
O’Dwyer has won 147 races since 2014, and had been primarily based in Maryland since mid-2017. He plans to relocate his stable to South Florida, where he had sent out 19 starters during the prestigious Championship Meet this winter at Laurel’s sister track, Gulfstream Park, with one second and two thirds.
Gulfstream is the only racetrack in North America with three distinct racing surfaces – dirt, turf and all-weather Tapeta, which made its debut last fall.
“This is going to be home now. There’s year-round racing and plenty of surfaces. If horses need to go north somewhere, they will. The ones that don’t fit down here we’ll get with the owners and get them sent up to tracks that suit them better,” O’Dwyer said. “I’m looking forward to it. My wife is happy being down here. I know it will be very hot in the summer, but we’ll adapt. We’re getting used to it. I’m looking forward to a new challenge, and that’s what it is.”
Laurel Park Press Release
Photo: Cooke Creek (inside blue cap) wins the Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park on Oct. 16, 2021(HoofprintsInc .com Photo)