Local Preakness (G1) Prep Headlines Spring Stakes Spectacular
BALTIMORE – Having run second despite encountering trouble both early and late, Flanagan Racing’s The Reds was promoted to victory following the disqualification of first-place finisher Excellorator in Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio at Pimlico Race Course.
The 40th running of the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio headlined an 11-race Spring Stakes Spectacular program featuring six stakes worth $650,000 in purses. For the sixth straight year, the Tesio offered Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds and automatic berth in the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 15 at Pimlico.
Saturday marked the return of the Tesio to Pimlico, where it debuted in 1981 and stayed every year but two through 2015. Named for the noted Italian breeder, owner and trainer whose homebreds Nearco and Ribot dominate Thoroughbred bloodlines around the world, the Tesio was held at Laurel Park in 1987 and 1989 and each year since 2016.
Sent off the 9-5 favorite in a field of eight that included stakes winners Shackled Love, Hello Hot Rod and his former stablemate Maythehorsebwithu, The Reds ($5.80) gave both local jockey Victor Carrasco and New York-based trainer John Kimmel their first Tesio victory.
“I thought he showed tremendous courage, really,” Kimmel said by phone. “He got squeezed at the start so he ended up losing his spot. He should have been much closer. Then he had a terrible trip getting to where he was when the horse came out on him, which was a call I thought was deserved. We were just very fortunate.”
Shackled Love, who edged Maythehorsebwithu in the March 13 Private Terms at Laurel, broke side-by-side from the two outermost posts and both were intent on the lead, going the first quarter-mile in 24.13 seconds and a half in 48.12 with Excellorator and jockey Angel Cruz tracking in third. Six furlongs went in 1:11.50 with the top two still in front, though Excellorator was closing the gap.
Neither leader was able to maintain their momentum and began to drop back as they came into the stretch, leaving Excellorator to inherit the lead. Meanwhile The Reds, shuffled back between Royal Number and Hello Hot Rod early and steadied on the far turn, got straightened out and was coming with a run when Excellorator drifted out under Cruz’s left-handed urging. The Reds was forced to alter his path and had Royal Number closing on his outside.
Once on a straight path, Excellorator dug in and held off The Reds by a head after completing the distance in 1:49.98 over a fast main track. Following a lengthy stewards’ inquiry and objections from both Carrasco on Cruz and Royal Number jockey Julian Pimentel on Carrasco, Excellorator was taken down and placed second behind The Reds.
“Not too disappointed really, because the horse ran a wonderful race,” Excellorator’s trainer, Hugh McMahon, said. “We did our part. There’s just so much we can do, but there’s so many external variables that influence these kinds of outcomes.”
The remaining order of finish was unchanged. Royal Number was third, followed by Hello Hot Rod, Maythehorsebwithu, Shackled Love, Zertz and Tiz Mandate.
“He broke good. You could see going into the turn, I’m trying to get him to relax. We had a great outside post and I wanted no part of dueling for the first three-quarters,” jockey Sheldon Russell, aboard Maythehorsebwithu, said. “I’m making every effort to sort of break his stride and get him to relax. We do a lot of work trying to teach them to relax in the afternoon, but we probably had him a little too fresh today. He just ran his race early on. We’ll regroup and see how he comes out.”
By Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tonalist, The Reds broke his maiden in his fifth career start and second this year, a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight Jan. 31 at Aqueduct. Last time out, he ran fifth in the one-mile Gotham (G3) March 6, also at the Big A.
The Reds is not Triple Crown-nominated, but can be supplemented to the 1 3/16-mile Preakness at the time of entry, May 10.
“This horse is really suited to run further. He’s got that kind of temperament. He settles really well,” Kimmel said. “I’m not sure if we’ll come back in three weeks but we’ll see how the Derby and the participants in the Preakness shakes out and we’ll go from there.”
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photos: The Reds, (Maryland Jockey Club)