With a strong surge in the final furlong of the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes April 21 at Laurel Park, Cash is King, D. J. Stable, and LC Racing's Diamond King secured a place in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
For the third year in a row, the Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds offered a "Win and You're In" opportunity for Triple Crown-nominated sophomores to punch an early ticket to the May 19 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.
"That's the plan. That's why we aimed for this (race)," Cash is King managing partner Chuck Zacney said after Diamond King's three-quarter-length win with jockey Frankie Pennington aboard. "We never lost faith in this horse."
Off a third-place finish in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (G3) Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park, the son of Quality Road broke second from post 5 in a field of nine and held close behind early leader Noble Commander. Florida-bred Noble Commander set fractions of :23.93, :48.33, and 1:13.27 through the first six furlongs.
As the top pair rounded for home, Diamond King dug in to move away for a clear lead with a sixteenth remaining. Godolphin's Holland Park sped past the tiring Noble Commander on the outside in a last-ditch effort but could not get past Diamond King.
"He did it very nicely," Pennington said. "He settled in nice going the mile and an eighth, which was fantastic. When it was time to go, I asked him and he gave it to me."
Diamond King, who will seek his first graded victory in the Preakness, finished in 1:50.31. Lincoln Stable's American Lincoln came in fourth, 3 1/4 lengths behind third-place finisher Noble Commander.
"I'm tickled to death," said winning trainer John Servis. "It was very impressive."
Bred in Kentucky by JSM Equine out of the Malibu Moon mare Akron Moon, Diamond King was purchased for $235,000 by Zacney from Wavertree Stables' consignment to the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale by Zacney.