How to Bet the Federico Tesio Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 19th, 2018

If you’re keeping an eye out for those up-and-coming “new shooters” that so often turn up in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico, then I recommend that you take a look at Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park.

The nine-furlong race serves as a local prep for the Preakness and even offers the winner an automatic entry into the second leg of the Triple Crown. Perhaps as a result, the Federico Tesio has drawn a wide-open field of eleven starters, making it an appealing betting race.

After going over the entries, I’m drawn to #2 Still Having Fun, who holds a small but meaningful edge in speed figures over his rivals—in fact, he’s posted four straight BRIS speed figures of 90 or higher. Trained by Timothy Keefe, Still Having Run has been in great form this year, kicking off the season with a 4 ½-length win sprinting seven furlongs in the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes at Laurel before following up with a hard-fought win in the Miracle Wood Stakes going a mile over the same track.

At first glance, it appears that Still Having Fun’s subsequent fourth-place finish in the 8.5-furlong Private Terms Stakes at Laurel was a step backward, and perhaps a sign that he’s better going shorter. But while I understand these arguments, I think it’s important to note that Still Having Fun endured a pretty tough trip in the Private Terms. A poor start left him in last place early on behind modest fractions, and he subsequently ran into traffic on a couple of occasions, including in the homestretch when he had to steady off the heels of the leaders.

Under the circumstances, I think Still Having Fun’s 2 ¼-length defeat was much better than it appears, and if he can work out a cleaner trip in the Federico Tesio, I expect him to rebound and vie for victory.

I’m also interested in #6 Diamond King, who finished a solid third in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream in February. While Diamond King is unproven around two turns—his lone start at a route distance came in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), in which he clipped heels and lost his rider on the first turn—Diamond King is bred to stretch out and won the Heft Stakes going seven furlongs at Laurel in December, so we know he likes this track.

A brief fever caused Diamond King to miss a scheduled start in the Private Terms, but he’s come back with some solid workouts since then, including a mile in 1:47 3/5 on March 24th and five furlongs in a bullet 1:02 2/5 on April 10th. It’s also worth noting that he’ll carry six pounds less than Still Having Fun (116 compared to 122), not an insignificant difference going nine furlongs.

I’ll make these two colts the focus of my wagers:

$3 exacta: 2,6 with 2,6 ($6) $1 trifecta: 2,6 with 2,6,9,10 with 2,6,8,9,10 ($18) $1 trifecta: 2,6 with 2,6 with 8,9,10 ($6)

Good luck!