Julian Pimentel rated Kid Cruz off the pace into the far turn, then charged by his rivals to post an easy victory in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico.
Kid Cruz is trained by Linda Rice. The colt, based at Belmont Park, won the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park in his previous start when he rallied from nearly 20 lengths back to win going away.
Entered in the Wood Memorial and scratched, Kid Cruz could not make a run toward the Kentucky Derby.
He was much closer today than he was in the Private Terms.
“He was running very easy and very comfortable,” said Pimentel. “He asked me to run a little early on the backstretch, so I had to hold him a little bit. He got up really well, really strong. I think I could have won by more but I just bided my time. Once I asked him he was ready.”
Kid Cruz won by 3 1/2 lengths and completed the 1 1/16 mile in 1:47.38 and paid $4.40. Matuszak finished second, 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Maryland-based Joint Custody took third. Sassicaia was fourth, followed by Mr. Rover and Oliver Zip. Elevated, Ground Control and Undertaker were scratched.
Kid Cruz entered Rice’s barn via the claim box for $50,000 last November and is now two-for-three for his new connections.
“I was a little worried that they were going to take this race from wire-to-wire but there was enough pressure to weaken the leader late,” said assistant trainer Marsha Barrs. “This horse really ran a terrific race even though we had to miss a work. We got knocked off the Derby trail after the Private Terms, but after some time off he’s back to his old self, and our long range options include the Preakness, pending how he comes out of this race today.”
Kid Cruz is owned by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds LLC and Black Swan Stable. The son of Lemon Drop Kid was bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall and is out of the Tale of the Cat mare Layreebelle.
The $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, will be run at Pimlico four weeks from today.
Deputed Testamony (1983) was the last Tesio winner to capture the Preakness, but five runners have finished in the money in the last 28 runnings: Broad Brush (1986), Rock Point (1989), Oliver's Twist (1995), Magic Weisner (2002) and Icabad Crane (2008). Ruler on Ice, the 2011 Tesio runner-up, came back to win the Belmont Stakes.
Edited Maryland Jockey Club release