Water Cannon surges to neck win in Tesio

Albert-trained gelding captures fifth straight, likely spot in Preakness

Horse Racing

April 18, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Linda Albert has trained horses for 15 years, but never had she experienced anything like this.

Water Cannon, the star of her 10-horse barn at the ramshackle Bowie Training Center, captured the Federico Tesio Stakes yesterday at Pimlico Race Course with a dramatic late charge. Scoring his fifth straight triumph, the classy gelding earned a likely place in the Preakness starting gate in four weeks.

"I can't remember anything right now," said Albert, trying to answer questions in the winner's circle. "I'm so excited."

She trained Perfect to a Tee to victory in the 1999 Maryland Million Classic, and that race was worth $200,000. Still, Water Cannon's thrilling win in the $100,000 Tesio means more, Albert said.

"I guess this is bigger because we're aiming for the big race," she said. "We're going to the Preakness - if they'll let us in. We may never get the chance to go again."

If more than 14 horses enter the Preakness, then the field will be determined by earnings. Water Cannon has earned $166,750. That might not be enough with an oversubscribed field, but 14 horses haven't entered the Preakness since 1992.

The Tesio has produced outstanding local Preakness performers. Deputed Testamony won the Preakness in 1983 after capturing the Tesio. Oliver's Twist finished second in the Preakness in 1995 after winning the Tesio, and Magic Weisner finished second in both races in 2002.

Despite entering the Tesio on a four-race winning streak, Water Cannon was the 5-2 third choice behind a filly and a horse once considered on a par with Tapit, one of the favorites to win the Kentucky Derby.

Pawyne Princess, a runaway winner of two races against fillies, was the 6-5 favorite, and Paddington, a stablemate of Tapit at Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in North East, was the 7-5 second choice.

Ryan Fogelsonger, Water Cannon's jockey, didn't expect to be in front, but when his mount broke crisply from the outside post in the 1 1/8 -mile race, he grabbed the lead - and the rail. That was key, as Pawyne Princess then had to sweep outside in pursuit around the first turn.

She secured the lead entering the backstretch, stretched it to four lengths and appeared in command rounding the final turn. But Water Cannon kept churning, gradually catching up. The filly tried gamely, but in the final strides Water Cannon stormed past on the outside to win by a neck.

Irish Laddie, a 32-1 long shot, claimed third, and Paddington settled for fourth. Dickinson said Paddington, who hadn't raced since finishing second to Read the Footnotes Nov. 2 in the Nashua Stakes, tired. He wasn't 100-percent fit after recovering from a foot bruise, Dickinson said.

Jerry Robb, trainer of Pawyne Princess, was pleased with the filly's effort.

"We got what we needed," he said. "We wanted a race for the Black-Eyed Susan."

But celebrating in the winner's circle were Albert, Fogelsonger and Water Cannon's three owners: Ellen Fredel, David Dorsen and Patrick Dooher. They're lawyers in Washington who race as The Nonsequitur Stable. Non sequitur in Latin means, "does not follow," Fredel said. They picked the name because it sounded "lawyerly," she added.

NOTES. The Lady's Groom won the inaugural Jim McKay Breeders' Cup Handicap after racing this winter in South Florida. Neither trainer Michael Gorham nor owner John D. Murphy Sr. attended the race, but local jockey Horacio Karamanos guided the 4-year-old colt to a 1 1/4 -length victory by outdueling Unforgettable Max, the 2-5 favorite. ... The Magna 5 concluded its first season with a $1,074.20 payout to 380 winners. Bettors wagered $522,730 nationally. Inaugurated Jan. 31, the Magna Five required bettors to pick the winners of five races in one hour at tracks owned by Magna Entertainment Corp.

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