After a lengthy inquiry, Colts Neck Stables' Awesome Speed was elevated to first place in the $100,000 Federico Tesio Stakes April 9 at Laurel Park to earn an automatic berth into the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
The Awesome Again colt actually lost a head bob at the wire to Governor Malibu, but the first-place finisher drifted in and bumped the front-running Awesome Speed in the final sixteenth. An inquiry was posted soon after the finish and an objection was also filed by jockey Jevian Toledo, which was followed by Governor Malibu's disqualification.
It was the Alan Goldberg-trained colt's third straight non-graded stakes victory, following scores in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park Jan. 2 and the James F. Lewis III Stakes in November at Laurel. Awesome Speed's only loss in his last five races was a fourth in the Feb. 27 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth (gr. II) against Mohaymen.
Awesome Speed took command into the first turn, set fractions of :25.60, :50.93, and 1:15.79 through six furlongs, shrugged off a challenge from Never Gone South in the last turn, and battled head-and-head with Governor Malibu to the wire in the final furlong. Governor Malibu and jockey Horacio Karamanos moved three wide to challenge in the final turn and the top pair hit the wire together in 1:53.31 for a mile and an eighth on a main track rated good.
"It would have been a tough beat," said Goldberg, who won the 2000 Tesio with Runspastum. "To be honest I was watching the TV and I didn't see (Governor Malibu) get in, but you could see it on the head-on (replay) pretty clearly. I think we probably would have won, but when the horse hit him it made him change leads and he kind of lost his momentum."
Off as the 3-5 favorite, the winner paid $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10 across the board. Governor Malibu brought $3.40 and $2.60, and longshot I Came to Party completed the trifecta and delivered $7.20 to show. Flash McCaul made mild gains to finish fourth, followed by D T Goodie and Never Gone South to complete the order of finish. Marengo Road was scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Allen Poindexter and Adena Springs out of the Aptitude mare Speedy Escape, Awesome Speed now has a four wins from six starts and earnings of $223,660.
"I don’t know if the horse is one of the best horses, but at least he showed he’ll get two turns with this bunch and I guess with a free run in the Preakness we might take it,” Goldberg said.