Tesio heads 'Challenge' at Pimlico 9 set for $200,000 race

Md.-breds also featured

April 20, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

As long-legged foals nuzzle up to their mamas in green Maryland pastures, Pimlico celebrates this seasonal phenomenon today at the racetrack with the Maryland Spring Challenge.

The card features four races for Maryland-breds as well as the $200,000 Federico Tesio Stakes, a Grade III test on dirt for 3-year-old Triple Crown hopefuls.

In its third year, the challenge is the spring version of the Maryland Million, that autumn card at Laurel -- set this year for Oct. 12 -- when horses born in the state race for $1 million in purses.

Maryland typically ranks sixth or seventh in the number of thoroughbreds born annually in this country, said Tim Capps, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

About 1,500 foals will be born this year on the state's horse farms, Capps says. Many never stray far from home; about half the horses entered daily at Pimlico and Laurel are Maryland-breds.

Despite today's four races for such horses, one of which features the outstanding filly Urbane, the top race at Pimlico is the 1 1/8 -mile Tesio. Nine horses from such prestigious Kentucky Derby preps as the Florida Derby, Gotham, Remington Park Derby and Jim Beam Stakes will clash in the race.

None of the nine is a realistic Kentucky Derby contender, but one or two might turn up in the Preakness May 18 at Pimlico. Last year's Tesio winner, Oliver's Twist, finished second in the Preakness. Other winners of the Tesio include Private Terms in 1988, Broad Brush in 1986 and Deputed Testamony in 1983.

In today's Tesio, Thundering Storm, Mixed Count, Viv and Devil's Honor are the top four in the morning line.

The projected 3-to-1 favorite, Thundering Storm, trounced El Amante by five lengths in the Tampa Bay Derby. Then El Amante, trained by Bill Mott, came back and romped in the Flamingo Stakes and now is headed to the Kentucky Derby.

Mixed Count, 7-to-2 in the morning line, won three of six at Laurel, including the Private Terms Stakes. Viv, 9-to-2, finished fifth in his last start, the one-mile Gotham at Aqueduct. But he broke from an outside post on a day when the muddy track favored speed horses on the rail.

Devil's Honor was the beaten even-money favorite in the Remington Park Derby. The winner, Semoran, is also off to the Kentucky Derby. Devil's Honor is 5-to-1 in the Tesio morning line.

Other entries are Larrupin', making only his third start; Best Secret, fourth in the Jim Beam; Tour's Big Red, fourth in the Flamingo and fifth in the Florida Derby; Connecting Terms, second in the Remington Park Derby, and Remember Cass, winner of three in 14 starts

The four races for Maryland-breds are the $60,000 Star De Naskra Stakes at six furlongs, the $75,000 Caesar's Wish Stakes at 1 1/16th miles, the $100,000 Jennings Handicap at 1 1/8 miles and the $100,000 Geisha Handicap at 1 1/16th miles.

Urbane heads the field of six fillies and mares in the Geisha.

Rosecroft update

The chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission has stepped in to avert a strike at Rosecroft Raceway, the harness track in Prince George's County.

Allan Levey said yesterday that he had offered to sit in on negotiations between management and the union representing parimutuel clerks, backstretch security and parking and admissions workers. After Levey urged further face-to-face discussions, the union workers postponed a possible strike date to April 30.

"My main concern is that they sit down and talk to each other," Levey said. "I can't believe this thing can't be worked out."

Pub Date: 4/20/96

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