Looming could run for roses if he romps to win in Tesio

April 23, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

"Maryland's Silky Sullivan."

That's what writers in the press box at Santa Anita Park dubbed Looming after they read about and saw the video of the horse's performance in the Private Terms Stakes on April 2.

In case you didn't catch the action at Pimlico Race Course that day, here's what happened in probably the most thrilling race to be run in Maryland this year: The 3-year-old colt was wiped out at the start, dropped back nearly 25 lengths off the pace and then made such a devastating move in the stretch that he not only won the race, but made the other horses look as if they were standing still.

Looming immediately was compared to great stretch runners of the past such as Silky Sullivan and Carry Back.

That was three weeks ago. Looming returns today in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, where he will try to prove that his race in the Private Terms was not a fluke.

An impressive performance could catapult the Robert Meyerhoff-owned colt into the lineup for the May 7 Kentucky Derby. But if his trainer, Dick Small, decides that two weeks is not enough time between races, the Preakness Stakes on May 21 could be the alternative.

"The first day I saw him, I nicknamed him 'the bulldog,' " said Looming's rider, Andrea Seefeldt. "He's real wide and stocky, and so powerful. He's like a Mack Truck in his races. It takes a while for him to get going, but then he really accelerates."

The same thing could happen in today's race. If Jerry Robb, trainer of Run Alden, the beaten favorite in the Private Terms, has anything to say about it, it's going to be another cliffhanger.

Since the loss, Robb has trained Run Alden to come from off the pace and get dirt splattered in his face. He switched jockeys for today's effort, replacing Allen Stacy with Donnie Miller Jr.

L There's no question the Tesio is going to be a grudge match.

Run Alden, however, drew the rail, which almost assures that Hal Clagett's homebred, the three-quarter brother to the venerable Little Bold John, will once again set the pace.

"I'm going to tell Donnie to do the same thing I told Allen to do last time," Robb said. "Take the lead if you get it easily. But if somebody else wants to go to the front, let them do it and take back."

Robb thought Stacy was tricked in the Private Terms and let the horse run too fast during the middle of the race, when he was challenged by Gash. When the time came to set Run Alden down in the stretch, he had nothing left and finished fourth.

"If something like that happens again, I hope Donnie has the sense to let the other horse go on," Robb said. "The way I figure it, Looming beat me once and I had a good excuse."

There are several other promising runners in the Tesio, including Allison and Dan Lucas' Justalittleshower, runner-up to Looming in the Private Terms; Sondra and Howard Bender's Dixie Power, a nephew of their top runner, Secret Odds; and Frances Hill Myers' Takeitlikeaman, who developed a breathing problem in his last disappointing race in Ocala, Fla. The breathing problem has now been corrected with a change of equipment, said trainer John Myers.

The Tesio, which is not restricted to Maryland-breds, is the feature on a five-stakes card that also includes four state-bred stakes -- the Caesar's Wish for 3-year-old fillies; the Star De Naskra for 3-year-old sprinters; the Geisha Handicap for older fillies and mares; and the Jennings Handicap for older males.

There is not a claiming race on the card and it was described by Pimlico/Laurel general manager John Mooney yesterday as "the best program we've had all year."

The races are grouped together in the inaugural Maryland Spring Breeders' Challenge. "It's probably a better card than was put together for the first Maryland Million [in 1986]," said Lenny Hale, director of racing.

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