Marciano claims punchless Tesio

Four-horse field stirs Triple Crown speculation

April 22, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Marciano earned a possible spot in the Preakness. Talk Is Money failed again to fulfill early promise. And Burning Roma baffled his jockey and trainer.

That was the story of the $200,000 Federico Tesio Stakes yesterday at Pimlico. The race for 3-year-olds featured only four horses after Let's Behave, the New York colt, was scratched.

Marciano, the 5-1 third choice, drove powerfully down the stretch to collar the pacesetter Talk Is Money and record a 1 1/4 -length victory. Talk Is Money at 4-1 held on for second as Burning Roma, the 1-5 favorite, weakened in the stretch and finished third.

A striking gray son of Two Punch, Marciano won for the fifth time in 11 races. This was his first victory at 1 1/8 miles. Mark Johnston, his regular rider, said that Marciano is always getting better.

Asked whether the Preakness was next, Tim Ritchey, the colt's trainer and part-owner, said: "It's a possibility. He obviously ran a big race. He sure finished well."

That Burning Roma didn't was the surprise. A typical closer, he bolted out of the starting gate like a sprinter. Chris McCarron, his jockey, wrestled him back. But later, when he asked the colt for run, he found none.

"The horse was very rank," said Tony Dutrow, his trainer. "Chris was both surprised and disappointed. I guess [Burning Roma] was just excited and eager to run. The horse I saw today was not the horse I knew. I was very disappointed in his performance."

Dutrow trained Burning Roma as a 2-year-old, winning the Grade I Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park and finishing a close fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Owner Harold Queen sent Burning Roma to Florida for the winter. He won two races at Tampa Bay Downs, but without Dutrow's input.

Asked if Burning Roma might run in the Preakness, Dutrow said: "That can't happen. I want to try to get the horse settled down."

Talk Is Money, a $1.8 million yearling, failed to win for the fourth straight time. His Laurel-based trainer, John Scanlan, said: "I'm not pleased at all."

Scanlan had hoped to run Talk Is Money in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. That's uncertain now.

In other stakes on Maryland Spring Challenge day:

Shine Again, the even-money favorite from Belmont Park, coasted to a two-length victory in the $100,000 Geisha Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares. Although this was the 4-year-old filly's 12th race, it was her first farther than 6 1/2 furlongs.

"She's quite a quick filly," said Jean-Luc Samyn, Shine Again's jockey. "We wondered how she'd respond to being rated. But she's trained by Allen. We don't have to worry about that."

Allen is H. Allen Jerkens, the Hall of Fame trainer. He did not make the trip to Maryland. Shine Again was bred by Allaire duPont and is owned by duPont's Bohemia Stable.

Hunka Hunka Lori Z captured the $75,000 Caesar's Wish Stakes as the 3-5 favorite in a thrilling stretch battle with Guillotine, the 9-2 third choice.

Jorgie Stover, a 16-1 long shot, charged from far back to win the $60,000 Star De Naskra Stakes by three-quarters length over Smile My Lord. Ramon Dominguez rode Jorgie Stover for one of his four afternoon victories.

The even-money favorite Saratoga Games finished last. Said McCarron, his jockey: "He didn't break, and he didn't fire."

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