`Moonshine' takes Federico Tesio Stakes

Victory at Pimlico could vault him into Preakness

Presidentialaffair cruises

Horse Racing

April 24, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Malibu Moonshine may have run his way into the Preakness yesterday.

Aided by a slow pace and a compact field, the chestnut colt proved he could handle 1 1/8 miles, overtaking front-runner Hello Jerry in deep stretch to capture the $150,000 Federico Tesio Stakes, the feature on the Spring Festival of Racing at Pimlico Race Course, by three-quarters of a length.

The performance could be a steppingstone into the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, although trainer King Leatherbury is not committing just yet.

"We'll evaluate this effort and then decide later," said Leatherbury, 72 years old and third on the all-time list with 6,070 wins. "We'll see how many horses the [Kentucky] Derby eliminates. That thing [Nick] Zito's got [Bellamy Road] could be the next Triple Crown winner if he can put three more good races together.

"If we figure we can run third or fourth, then we'll probably run. You don't expect a horse like this to win the Preakness against the best horses in the world."

Leatherbury has had three previous Preakness starters, the most recent being I Am The Game, who finished fourth behind Tank's Prospect in 1985.

With Hello Jerry - a son of highly successful sire Malibu Moon, like the winner - and favored Byanosejoe in front of him entering the lane, Malibu Moonshine swung wide for the drive home and responded willingly to the encouragement of jockey Steve Hamilton. Hello Jerry, a neck loser to Malibu Moonshine on March 26, couldn't stave off the charge.

One of the first telephone conversations Leatherbury had after the race was with owner Woodrow Marriott, the 91-year-old member of the hotel family who has been hospitalized with pneumonia.

"Certainly this was good medicine for him," Leatherbury said. "He's lost some weight and he can't eat. But this win will definitely get him in good spirits."

Hamilton said Malibu Moonshine usually drops far back, "but with the slow pace he was up close today. The horse keeps getting better the farther we go. I don't think we've seen the best of him. I am overwhelmed if we get to go to the Preakness."

"The thing that entices you into a race like that is that there is only one Preakness. You're kind of tempted to take that shot," Leatherbury said.

A crowd of 8,322 attended the races under threatening skies that opened to throw a deluge of rain just as the last race went to the post.

In other races yesterday:

Presidentialaffair showed he has lost nothing since his victory in the Maryland Million Classic last October.

In his first start in more than six months, the Not For Love gelding toyed with the field in the $200,000 Jim McKay Breeders' Cup Handicap, pulling away to win by 7 1/2 lengths over the rallying favorite Classic Endeavor.

A horse who loves to run on the front end, Presidentialaffair "felt 10 feet tall" according to jockey Todd Glasser. "He did exactly what we wanted him to do. When a horse is this classy, you don't worry about nothing."

Trainer Marty Ciersa called the race the horse's "best ever."

Only in Philly helped to dictate a leisurely pace under Jose Caraballo and turned back five rivals, including previously unbeaten Hear Us Roar, by 6 1/2 lengths in the first $100,000 Country Life Farm Stakes.

Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger returned from a nasty accident in Thursday's final race to guide Silmaril to a 1 1/2 -length win over Grant's Moon in the first $100,000 Northview Stallion Station Stakes.

Fogelsonger sat out the Friday card with bumps and bruises, then sent the Chris Grove-trained Silmaril to her fifth stakes victory as favored He Loves Me, a graded winner, ran fourth.

In the first running of the $100,000 Maryland Stallion Stakes, Celtic Innis notched a noteworthy upset at 12-to-1 odds under Hamilton.

Celtic Innis overtook front-runner Mojodajo at the sixteenth pole to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

NOTES: Veteran jockey Mario Pino registered his 5,500th career victory on Tooth Doctor, trained by his brother, Michael, in the fifth race. Pino ranks 16th on the all-time win list and is fifth among active riders. ... . In his first return to Pimlico since riding Funny Cide to a Preakness triumph, Jose Santos was blanked aboard four mounts, finishing with a second, third and two fourths.

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