Pimlico will bloom for Spring Challenge

Tesio, 4 other stakes set

Krone's final Md. rides, live music are sidelights

April 16, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

With five stakes races, live music and Julie Krone's final rides in the state, the Maryland Spring Challenge tomorrow at Pimlico is a fitting prelude to the state's biggest sporting event, the Preakness.

One month before the Preakness, Maryland Spring Challenge features four stakes for Maryland-breds and the $200,000 Federico Tesio Stakes. Created as a junior version of the Maryland Million, which is held in the fall at Laurel Park, the day at Pimlico celebrates Maryland racing in the season of the forsythia.

Trying to attract newcomers to the party, the state's thoroughbred breeders and the owners of Pimlico chipped in about $50,000 apiece for advertising and promotion.

"We're trying to do some things to make it a bigger day," said Tim Capps, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

Stevie and the Satellites, an oldies band featuring the irreverent Steve Rouse of WQSR radio, will perform. Prizes will be given away. Beginning at 9 a.m., a free two-hour seminar on how to buy and sell a 2-year-old in training will be conducted on the fourth floor of the grandstand.

Racing begins at 1: 05 p.m. The featured attraction is the 19th running of the Federico Tesio Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds that traditionally showcases a handful whose owners possess aspirations for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont.

The 11-horse field is so balanced that Clem Florio, Pimlico's oddsmaker, has listed eight horses at 8-1 or less. Trained by Linda Rice at Belmont Park, Talk's Cheap is the tepid 4-1 morning-line favorite. Attempting to rebound from a dismal showing in the Private Terms Stakes and earn a start in the Preakness, Millions is 5-1.

The Tesio kicks off the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships, a six-month series of races in five divisions that offers lucrative bonuses for owners and trainers.

Krone, 35, who recently announced her retirement, is slated to ride at least five horses on what will probably be her next-to-last day as a jockey. Booked Sunday at Lone Star Park in Texas, Krone is the most successful female jockey of all time. In her prime, she was one of the top riders in the world.

Her mounts include five of trainer Richard Small's entrants in the afternoon's stakes races. Small and Krone have been friends for years. She rode his horses this winter at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Although the Tesio includes horses born in various states, the other four stakes are restricted to Maryland-breds. They are the $60,000 Star de Naskra Stakes, $75,000 Caeser's Wish Stakes, $100,000 Geisha Handicap and $100,000 Jennings Handicap.

Pub Date: 4/16/99

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