Trainer Martin Ciresa has a theory about the one-mile races run this past winter on the new dirt track at Laurel Park, and it gives him hope his horse, Super Eight Track, can upset four Triple Crown nominees tomorrow in the $150,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico.
Three of the six runners entered in the Tesio, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, last competed in the one-mile Private Terms Stakes on March 26 at Laurel, including winner Malibu Moonshine, a colt with designs on the Preakness Stakes. Ciresa, a veteran trainer based at Philadelphia Park, figures the Private Terms, run around one turn, is a poor measuring stick for whether horses can negotiate the extra eighth of a mile and two turns they will face at Pimlico.
Presidentialaffair, under Stewart Elliott, won the Maryland Million Classic in October, the horse's most recent race.
(Jim Mccue -- AP)
"The Private Terms was a sprint," Ciresa said dismissively yesterday. "To me, one-turn miles are sprints. I think I can win it [the Tesio], and I'll get a huge price."
The Tesio is one of five rich stakes races scheduled in Pimlico's Spring Festival of Racing. It will be co-featured with the $200,000 Jim McKay Breeders' Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race for older horses that Ciresa also figures to have a strong shot in with 2004 Maryland Million Classic winner Presidentialaffair.
At first glance, Super Eight Track might not look like he has much chance against Malibu Moonshine or Byanosejoe, a dangerous New York shipper for trainer Richard Dutrow who finished fifth in the Gotham Stakes, just 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner. The Pennsylvania-bred gelding needed five races to break his maiden and is listed in the morning line at 10-1 odds.
Ciresa, however, has his theory, and the horse is nothing if not long-winded. Four of Super Eight Track's lifetime starts have been beyond a mile, and he won his past two at Philadelphia Park by a combined 10 lengths.
"He came along kind of slow, but he can run all day. He's getting stronger," Ciresa said. "I don't think they're much better than he is. He can cover ground and never get tired."
Ciresa put a sharp three-furlong workout into the horse last Friday and then completed preparation with a mile gallop in which he blazed the final three furlongs in just over 36 seconds.
"He's all that and a bag of chips," jockey Todd Glasser told Ciresa after the run.
Presidentialaffair, meantime, hasn't run since winning the Maryland Million Classic Oct. 9, but if Ciresa is right and the horse is better than last year, he could dominate six others scheduled to compete.
Presidentialaffair, a 6-year-old gelding Ciresa claimed for $20,000, ran eight races last year, winning three and finishing second four times. Two of the second-place efforts, however, came against Horse of the Year Ghostzapper.
Chronic hoof bruising led Ciresa to give Presidentialaffair a long winter's rest, and he expects the horse to have a big year. Still, Ciresa might have to send someone else to Pimlico to saddle his horses for the big day because his wife is pregnant with their first child and overdue.
"I'm not going to go if she has it," Ciresa said. "Maybe they've got cable in the hospital."
Racing Notes: Just 34 horses passed the entry box to run in the five stakes races tomorrow and at least one, Aggadan, is unlikely to compete, having run this past week in New York.
The Jim McKay Breeders' Cup and Federico Tesio are open races, while the other three are restricted. In past years, the three restricted races, run under different names, were only for Maryland-bred runners. This year, the races were opened up to horses sired by Maryland-based stallions as well.
Despite a healthy number of nominations, few trainers signed up to run.
"Disappointed? Sure I am," said stakes coordinator Wendy Pensivy. "It's a new program here, and these things take time. We went through every single horse in the country to get the nominations. Hopefully, it will be a good day and the races will stick together." . . .
Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger, 23, of Silver Spring, was injured yesterday for the second time in a month when thrown from his mount, favorite Christmas Slippers, in the final race of the day.
Fogelsonger, the 2002 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey, went down and was kicked by his horse, somersaulting several times on the track. He was alert and complaining of neck pain, according to Pimlico medical director Harry Harris. He was taken to Sinai Hospital for precautionary X-rays, treated and released.