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BALTIMORE, MD – When original winner Excellorator was deemed to have unfairly floated him out in the stretch, stewards floated runner-up The Reds into the winner’s circle of Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico.
The Tesio serves as a “Win and You’re In” for the Preakness Stakes (G1), securing The Reds a place in the starting gate.
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The Reds broke from post 4 under Victor Carrasco as the 9/5 favorite and was pinched back soon thereafter, then settled into a mid-pack stalking position heading into the clubhouse turn.
Shackled Love outkicked Maythehorsebwithu for the lead, where he posted opening fractions of :24.13, :48.12, and 1:11.50 before coming under fire at the top of the stretch.
Maythehorsebwithu took first run but soon gave way to Excellorator, who sat third early and tipped out to commence a three-wide bid once straightened for home.
Excellorator soon ran anything but straight, however; when jockey Angel Cruz went to a right-handed crop, his steed lugged in dangerously. Cruz then over-corrected, causing Excellorator to veer out and cause both The Reds and Royal Number (who were rallying down the middle of the lane) to float out as well.
Excellorator finally ran straight and true in the final 1/16 of a mile and crossed a head clear, completing the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route in 1:49.98. However, Carrasco soon lodged an ojection against Excellorator, which the stewards upheld, disqualifying Excellorator and placing him second behind the John Kimmel-trained The Reds.
“I thought he showed tremendous courage, really,” Kimmel said. “He got squeezed at the start, so he ended up losing his spot. He should have been much closer. Then he had a terrible trip getting to where he was when the horse came out on him, which was a call I thought was deserved. We were just very fortunate.”
“Not too disappointed really, because the horse ran a wonderful race,” said Excellorator’s trainer Hugh McMahon. “We did our part. There’s just so much we can do, but there’s so many external variables that influence these kinds of outcomes.”
Royal Number, Hello Hot Rod, Maythehorsebwithu, Shackled Love, Zertz, and Tiz Mandate completed the order of finish.
The Reds’ win was his first in a stakes and came in his second attempt at the level following last month’s Gotham Stakes (G3), where he finished fifth. The 3-year-old Tonalist colt’s record now stands at 7-2-0-1 with $147,980 earned for Flanagan Racing.
“This horse is really suited to run further,” Kimmel said. “He’s got that kind of temperament. He settles really well. I’m not sure if we’ll come back in 3 weeks (for the Preakness), but we’ll see how the (Kentucky) Derby (G1) and the participants in the Preakness shakes out and we’ll go from there.”
The Reds returned $5.80 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.80 to show. Excellorator brought back $6.60 to place and $4.20 to show. Royal Number paid $4.40 to show.
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