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Copper Tax Gets Job Done Again in Federico Tesio

Edges pacesetting Speedyness in Laurel Park's Preakness prep.

Copper Tax (outside) wins the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park

Copper Tax (outside) wins the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

It took the length of the stretch, but Rose Petal Stable's multiple stakes winner Copper Tax came with a steady run down the center of the track to reel in stubborn pacesetter Speedyness and edge clear by three-quarters of a length in the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park April 20.

The 43rd running of the 1 1/8-mile Tesio headlined an 11-race program featuring five stakes worth $550,000 on the second of back-to-back Spring Stakes Spectacular Saturdays, including the first three of the season on Laurel's world-class turf course.

Named for the noted Italian breeder, owner, and trainer whose homebreds Nearco and Ribot dominate Thoroughbred bloodlines around the world, the Tesio for a ninth straight year served as a 'Win and In' qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

As one of eight Tesio horses nominated to the Triple Crown, Copper Tax earned an automatic berth to the Preakness. Winning trainer Gary Capuano previously ran third in the Preakness with Captain Bodgit in 1997 and eighth with 2003 Tesio winner Cherokee's Boy.

A total of 23 Tesio winners have gone on to run in the Preakness, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, including last year's winner, Perform, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey. Maryland-bred Deputed Testamony, in 1983, is the lone horse to sweep both races.

Happy Saver  won the Tesio in 2020 for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher as a prelude to his next-out victory over older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1), while runners-up Ruler On Ice (2011) and Monday Morning Qb (2020) respectively went on to capture the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Maryland Million Classic.

"I don't know. It's a stretch, but we'll see. We'll see how he comes out. He's not a big horse. We'll make that decision in a week or two," Capuano said of the Preakness. "He's always showed the talent."

Speedyness won the one-mile Miracle Wood Stakes Feb. 24 at Laurel in front-running fashion, and led again in the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms Stakes March 23, his two-turn debut, before being caught late by Copper Tax and Inveigled. Jaime Rodriguez again had Speedyness on the lead from their rail, going uncontested through a quarter-mile in :24.07 and a half in :47.21 with only longshots Malinois and Classic Joke within range.

Copper Tax, meanwhile, bobbled slightly breaking from outermost post 10 and settled well behind before rolling into contention following Inveigled's move as six furlongs went in 1:11.9. Speedyness continued to dig in up front and went one mile in 1:38.55, resisting a relentless Copper Tax.

"Coming out of a gate made us a little bit nervous for a second, but he came back in and held his ground and little by little he gained more steam, which is great," Rose Petal's Chris Loso said. "And as always, he finished with a bang."

Speedyness was a decisive second, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Inveigled, who edged late-running Carolo Rapido by a head.

"I was watching (Speedyness) on the lead and nobody was going with him, so that's not good. But he just kept sustaining that run," Capuano said.

Copper Tax now has seven wins from 10 starts, four of them in stakes, three coming at Laurel—the 2023 James F. Lewis III Stakes, and this year's Private Terms, and Tesio.

Video: Federico Tesio S. (BT)

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.