Saturday’s $123,750 Federico Tesio at Laurel offered a berth in the Preakness (G1) to a Triple Crown-nominated winner, but the “Win and You’re In” provision didn’t apply to the non-nominated Twisted Tom. Owner Cobra Farm would have to pay to make him eligible for the Preakness, and trainer Chad Brown (who already has Cloud Computing penciled in for the Triple Crown’s middle jewel) was in no rush to make a decision on the spot.
Based at Belmont Park, Twisted Tom edged O Dionysus in his previous foray here for the March 18 Private Terms. The added ground in the 1 1/8-mile Tesio likely helped Twisted Tom extend that margin to 2 1/4 lengths on Saturday.
Jockey Fergal Lynch had him perched in a close second, flanking Todd Pletcher’s Action Everyday, as they attended 23-1 front runner Hashtag Alex through splits of :24.39 and :48.08 on the sloppy, sealed track. The stalkers overtook Hashtag Alex by the time they reached six furlongs in 1:13.27, but O Dionysus was winding up wider out.
Turning into the stretch, O Dionysus and Twisted Tom left the toiling Action Everyday behind, and the 5-1 chances settled down to fight it out themselves. Twisted Tom proved the more tenacious of the pair, pulling away from the stalling O Dionysus to finish in 1:53.60 and returned $12.60.
The 9-5 Action Everyday salvaged third by a nose from 4-5 favorite Carradine, who never got involved. Hashtag Alex tired to last of the quintet.
Twisted Tom’s mark now stands at 6-4-0-0, $209,040. From the first crop of Creative Cause, the chestnut scored his first two wins in New York-bred company – a turf maiden for George Weaver at Belmont last September and an Aqueduct inner-track allowance second time out for Brown. He made it three straight in the Tesio.
Quotes from Laurel
Winning trainer Chad Brown: “He ran terrific and Fergal really rode him well once again. They’re a great team, those two. The horse showed a lot of heart again. He’s a long-winded, hard-trying horse that obviously showed he has a tremendous amount of stamina and will to win. He’s a horse that continually is improving, which we love to see. We’re just really proud of his effort today.
“He really has (shown versatility). It’s another thing I’m really proud of. He showed a new dimension today, and dealing with an off track he handled it fine. Fergal deserves a lot of credit for using good judgment in keeping him out of trouble. He’s a big horse and although he was losing some ground he picked a good spot to let him relax and find his rhythm. When that horse came to him on the outside, he showed his heart.
“Because he’s not (Triple Crown) nominated it certainly complicates things, so I’ll speak to the ownership group. Right now we’ll just enjoy this win. We’ll see how the horse comes out of the race physically and then we’ll all probably speak about it next week sometime and come up with a plan.”
Winning rider Fergal Lynch: “He broke sharper today. I just got into a nice rhythm all the way. I thought O Dionysus might struggle to stay and I knew from my horse’s gallop-out last time that he would like the distance. Today he had no kickback and a small field. He’s a turfer and a mudder and a very adaptable, huge horse who should get better.”
Trainer Gary Capuano on runner-up O Dionysus: “I’m not sure whether he’s just hanging or waiting on horses. I guess I’m going to have to change some things around. He runs, but when he gets to them and he gets his head in front it’s like he either waits for horses or he’s hanging. I’m not sure. He runs, but he’s not winning.
“He cruised up there and turning for home it looks like he’s got horse and he’s just going to go on, and he either hangs or flattens out. But, he tries. He’s running.”
Earlier, the complexion of the $120,000 Weber City Miss – a “Win and You’re In” for the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) – changed with the veterinarian-recommended scratch of 3-5 morning-line favorite Jenda’s Agenda. In her absence, the Pletcher-trained Lights of Medina was favored at even money, with Forever Liesl at 3-2, and the market nailed the exacta.
Also ridden by Lynch, Lights of Medina stalked Forever Liesl before driving two lengths clear. The Sumaya U.S. Stable homebred splashed 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.22, improving her resume to 5-2-1-1, $121,100. The Eskendereya filly was coming off a maiden win around Laurel’s one-turn mile.
Quotes from Laurel
Lynch on Lights of Medina: “My agent spoke to (Pletcher) and he just told me she’ll just keep galloping and galloping. If there was no pace, I was going to make the lead. Jevian (Toledo on Forever Liesl) jumped and wanted to make it, so I let him go and gave my filly a clear path.
“I thought he had drawn off at the three-eighths pole, but to be fair my filly dug in again and re-broke and came running and really got on top in the end. The leader looked like she was going to be hard to catch but my filly kept plugging away. It was a great job by the trainer and all the guys in the yard. They did a fantastic job. When you’re riding for these guys, it makes our jobs easier.
“She galloped out great. The further the better for her I think. If it was in England I’d say she wants a mile and a half. She’s one of them.”
Trainer Larry Jones on the scratch of Jenda’s Agenda: “We sent her down there to run. I got notice (of the scratch) but it was not my idea. I’m not down there. We walked her this morning and everything was good on our end as far as we were concerned.
“But I’m going to tell you, after Eight Belles I don’t push it a lot. I don’t want something to happen. I’m not there myself to make the call so we just had to go with what (the veterinarian) wanted to do.”