Xchanger wins Tesio

favorite Etude is fifth

Trainer Shuman gets 3 Pimlico wins in one afternoon

April 22, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Reporter

Jockey Ramon Dominguez didn't expect the ride he got yesterday in the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes, but when his horse Xchanger told him to let loose the reins, Dominguez listened and rode off to a 4 3/4 -length victory that seemed like three times that.

Xchanger won so easily in 1:49.98 that trainer Mark Shuman smiled broadly and couldn't help but nod yes when asked if the May 5 Kentucky Derby was back in play.

"It's going to be a rough week," Shuman said of the decision ahead. "It will take a lot of talking, but in the end we'll try to do what's best for the horse."

The horse is the 3-year-old son of Exchange Rate and a great-grandson of the great stallion Northern Dancer, who stood in Maryland until his death.

So, while Xchanger is a Florida bred, his roots flow back to Maryland. The horse, who paid $6.80 to win, is trained at the Fair Hill Training Center near Elkton, the same place that trained the late Barbaro, winner of last year's Kentucky Derby.

All of that may ease the pain for those in the crowd of 8,997 who were rooting for and betting on Etude, the Dickie Small-trained, Pimlico-based race favorite. Etude, running in his first two-turn race, was third at the top of the stretch but did not respond to urging from his jockey Luis Garcia, and finished fifth in the six-horse race.

"He just had a bad day," Small said. "He ran such a big race his last time out [The Private Terms, which he won by 5 3/4 lengths]. Sometimes it takes a lot out of a horse, even when it seems easy.

"I don't see anything wrong with him. He cooled out fine, but I want to give him some time now. Sometimes it takes weeks and months to figure out what's wrong -- if anything is."

The race surprised Dominguez, who broke behind Belly Rub before taking the lead down the backstretch. He then exchanged the lead with Pink Viper, who finished second, before taking firm control into the far turn. He stretched his lead to eight lengths before finishing with the 4 3/4 -length win in the 1 1/8 -mile race.

"I didn't expect this kind of race," Dominguez said. "I thought the [Belly Rub] and [Etude] would have more speed and I was surprised by how much speed I had.

"But [Shuman] told me to put the horse where he was comfortable and I listened to my horse. If [Shuman] had told me anything else, I might have done something different and messed him up, because I was concerned by quick fractions. But I could tell I had a lot of horse and that he wanted to go, so I let him go."

The race was Shuman's third win of the afternoon. His My Girlie led from start to finish to upset favorite Silmaril by 1 1/4 lengths in the $125,000 Northview Stallion Station Stakes, one of two stakes for Maryland-bred and Maryland Million nominees. And Talent Search, a 4-year-old by Catienus, won the Jim McKay Sprint by six lengths.

"Three perfect rides. Three perfect trips. Three stakes wins," Shuman said. "You really can't do any better than that." Heart Throbbin' came from off the pace to win by a nose in the $125,000 Maryland Stallion Station Stakes, another stake for Maryland-bred and Maryland Million nominees.

My Girlie, bred by Mrs. Richard C. duPont, paid $18 after bolting to the lead and staying there with slow fractions until heading for home. When jockey Jose Caraballo asked the 5-year-old daughter of Pioneering for more down the stretch, she delivered enough to hold off Silmaril, who has nearly $750,000 in career winnings and has won nine stakes at five different distances.

"I don't know what to say," said Silmaril's jockey, Ryan Fogelsonger, who won two stakes yesterday. "We figured to be laying second and I figured we would be fine. ... We were really coming at the wire, but in a five-horse field it is very easy for a 1-9 shot to get beat, and that is what happened."

In the Maryland Stallion Stakes, Heart Throbbin' also won in an upset and paid $15.20. The 3-year-old gelding by Formal Gold was claimed for $40,000 last August by trainer King Leatherbury. He won when his head bobbed at exactly the right time to beat Hobbitontherocks. Throbbin' was bred by Dr. and Mrs. Tom Bowman and Dickie Small.

"When you claim a horse, you hope they're worth what you pay for them," Leatherbury said. "I didn't think he was this kind of horse. ... He's obviously moved up quite a bit since we claimed him."


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