Woodrow Marriott's Malibu Moonshine punched his ticket for a start in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with a determined victory in the $150,000 Federico Tesio Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Pimlico. Under a carefully crafted ride by Steve "Cowboy" Hamilton, the chestnut son of Malibu Moon tracked frontrunner Hello Jerry while racing along the inside part of the track in this 1-1/8 mile test. He angled to the middle of the racetrack for the run for the wire and closed with dogged tenacity to catch Hello Jerry and win by three-quarters of a length. Post time favorite Byanosejoe finished third. The winner paid $8.40 and his winning time for the distance was 1:53.31. Hamilton said, "I knew we had a lot of horse. I'm just absolutely stopping him in behind the leaders. Of course, they were slowing it down as much as they could, doing their job. The race set up great for us from there. He's usually way back, but with the slow pace he was up close today. Once I got him out at the head of the lane, he did the rest and kicked hard. The added distance was no concern. I think he'll run all day." King T. Leatherbury trains Malibu Moonshine. He nominated the colt for the Triple Crown after he won the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel last month. He also has a victory in the Miracle Wood and a fourth place finish in the Battaglia Memorial this year. Leatherbury said, "We'll evaluate this effort and then decide later (as to going on the Preakness). I just thought he was the best of this group. I went into this race very confident. I thought he'd win. He's improving every time he runs, he trains super-good, and I wasn't worried about it. People said 'good luck' to me and I told them, 'I don't want to use my luck on this race.'" Marriott, the 91-year-old member of the hotel family, did not make it to Pimlico. He has been in the hospital with pneumonia. "He's 91 years old, so it's a very serious thing," said Leatherbury. "I just talked to him on the phone. He was excited about the results of the race. Hopefully, he'll pull through this. He's lost some weight, and he can't eat. But this win will definitely get him in good spirits."
Leatherbury, the 72-year old conditioner who ranks third on the all-time win list with 6,070 victories, has saddled three Preakness starters in his legendary career: Indigo Star (fifth-1978), Thirty Eight Paces (fourth-1981,) and I Am The Game (fourth-1985). Since its inception in 1981, sixteen horses graduated from the Tesio to the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, including 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony and Oliver's Twist (1995) and Magic Weisner (2002), who both finished second at huge odds.(Chart, Equibase)