The Final Stop on the Road to the Preakness

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
On Saturday, they’ll stage the final Preakness Prep: the Federico Tesio Stakes, named after the famous Italian horse breeder and trainer, who brought his talents to Maryland. 

The Road to the Preakness ends this week.

While we’ve hit a soft spot in the Kentucky Derby prep schedule, we still have another prep series to watch: The Road to the Preakness, otherwise known as the second jewel of the American Triple Crown.

Every racing jurisdiction has its own version of a Derby: in the case of Maryland, it’s the Preakness; in New York State, it’s the Belmont Stakes, etc.

On Saturday, they’ll stage the final Preakness Prep: the Federico Tesio Stakes, named after the famous Italian horse breeder and trainer, who brought his talents to Maryland.  I often say on the Horse Racing Happy Hour Podcast that the Tesio is a great predictor of who won’t win the Preakness, and this year should be no different.

It doesn’t mean, however, that the card isn’t awesome (it is), and that we might see a horse who helps us fill out an exacta or trifecta on Preakness day (it definitely could).  So we’ll dive into that one, below.  We’ll also put together a late pick 3 for Santa Anita, so we can have some action earlier in the day, and later into the afternoon out west.

Let’s get into it.

Race 8 Weber City Miss Stakes.  1 1/16M, dirt.  3YOF.  $125k purse.

The Weber CIty Miss Stakes is an annual prep for the Black Eyed Susan Stakes, run annually on the Friday before the Preakness.  Whichever filly wins the race, she is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate, all expenses paid.  Here are my top selections:

I have 5 Determined Driver on top, coming out of a solid win in the Beyond the Wire Stakes, the stakes race preceding this one.  The good news for her: she’s likely the fastest filly in this group, and should be able to set the pace.  The bad news: the stretch at Laurel Park is super long, and she’s got another filly in the race that could run her down if she sets fractions she can’t maintain.

4 Shimmering Allure is easily the most talented in this field, but she’s also inconsistent.  Trainer Kenny McPeek tried her in the Grade 1 Ashland – one of the top preps for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks – and she was not up to the task.  This is a considerable drop in class (a lowering of competition), so she should be able to hang.

Top selections: 5, 4.

Race 10 Federico Tesio Stakes.  1 ⅛ M, dirt.  3YO.  $125k purse.

This the win-and-in for the Preakness, the Tesio.  The last Tesio winner to also win the Preakness was Deputed Testamony in 1983.  I didn’t have to look that up – it’s the most notorious of all Maryland racing facts.

I love the outside colt in 11 Copper Tax, and I would have him on top if not for a difficult outside post (starting) position.  I have him second, but I think his long-term prospects in racing are super positive.

I think 1 Speedyness on the inside has a great shot here, aided by the post position.  In his previous race, he ran out of time to rally; I think the added distance here will help.

10 Inveigled almost won the previous race I mentioned – The Private Terms Stakes – and should run well here, as well.  Trainer Jane Cibelli is 0-for-17 thus far in 2024, however.

9 Carolo Rapido is trained by Todd Pletcher, one of the top trainers in North America.  He places his young horses as well as anyone, and I think you’ll get every but of the 8/1 morning line price on him.

Someday, I’ll write a piece on trainer Kenny McPeek.  Sit down with him, pick his brain, understand his methodology, his approach.  He does one thing I absolutely love: he runs his horses if they’re in form.  Picks his spots more liberally, but his horses get to the starting gate.  He doesn’t obsess over personal statistics; he just runs his horses.  So does the 7 Lat Long have a shot?  Sure.  What the hell.

Top selections: 1, 11, 9, 7, 10.

Pick 3 play for Laurel Park, starts race 8: 4,5 / 4,5,6,8 / 1,7,9,10,11.  $.50 Pick 3 = $20.

Let’s head west, now, for the late sequence at Santa Anita Park.

Race 7 Grade 3 Californian.  1 ⅛ M, dirt.  4+up.  $100k purse.

Simple one, here: I’m taking two of the five horses in the field.  I’ve got 3 Mixto on top – he’s been running in graded stakes company and come close many times.  Jockey Antonio Fresu is set for a mount in the Kentucky Derby aboard Stronghold.  I’ll also use 2 Judge Miller, who is moving up from allowance company.  He’s fast enough to win here, and should get a good trip in a small field.

Top selections: 3, 2.

Race 8 Grade 3 Providencia.  1 ⅛ M, turf.  3YOF.  $100k purse.

This is a restricted race for three year-old fillies, and features my single of the day: 3 Medoro, 3-for-3 lifetime and 2-for-2 at Santa Anita.  She’s second off the layoff here, and should be in great form.  The added distance will absolutely be a positive for her.

Top selections: 3.

Late Pick 3, starts Race 7: 2,3 / 3 / 3,4,8 $3 base ticket = $18.

Good luck this weekend!  See y’all after the Tesio.