04/21/2006 11:00PM

Ah Day handles Tessio distance

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Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Ah Day wins the Federico Tesio Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE - Even a trainer who wins more than 6,000 races can sometimes be wrong.

Trainer King Leatherbury was very skeptical about his 3-year-old gelding Ah Day's chances to get 1 1/8 miles. But on a sloppy Pimlico track on a dreary afternoon, Ah Day proved his trainer's doubts were unfounded as he rolled to a 5 1/2-length victory in the $121,500 .

Vegas Play, second to Sweetnorthernsaint in the Miracle Wood Stakes, finished second in here by 6 1/2 lengths over Putonyerdancinshuz. Colby Cat finished fourth.

None of the top four finishers are Triple Crown nominated and it would cost $100,000 to supplement to the Preakness, run at Pimlico on May 20. Leatherbury, who is also the breeder and part-owner of Ah Day, said he wouldn't supplement, before adding, "unless I find somebody to put it up for me and I'd split the purse with them."

Under Ryan Fogelsonger, Ah Day was caught three wide entering the first turn in the Tesio as Kona Blend and Roamin Murphy dueled on the lead. Ah Day moved into second behind Kona Blend five furlongs out, and forged to the front entering the far turn. Vegas Play, under Mario Pino followed Ah Day, but never threatened.

Ah Day, a Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.88 and returned $6.40 as the favorite.

"He's honestly getting better every race - and I know a lot of people say that about horses - but he benefits so much when he runs," said Fogelsonger, who won three races on the card. "I don't think distance is a problem, it's just getting him to relax and he did that fine today."

Leatherbury won this race last year with Malibu Moonshine, who finished eighth when he ran back in the Preakness. Saturday's victory was the 6,131st victory of Leatherbury's career, which ranks him third all-time. He began to doubt Ah Day's distance capabilities when he blew a 3 1/2-length lead in the stretch of the one-mile Private Terms on March 25.

"That made me wonder about the mile and an eighth,'' said Leatherbury, who ran Ah Day back in a second-level, seven-furlong allowance race on April 12, a race Ah Day won easily.

Leatherbury said his assistant, Avon Thorpe told him Ah Day "'would win easy,' and he won easy. I'm tickled with him. He's a better horse than Malibu Moonshine."

Ah Day will most likely make his next start in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard.

In other stakes at Pimlico on Saturday:

- New York shipper Somethinaboutbetty ($5) made all the pace under Mike Luzzi and held off Crown You to win the $78,750 by three-quarters of a length.

Somethinaboutbetty, owned by Rick Pitino's Runnin Cardinal Stable and C.E. Glasscock and trained by Todd Pletcher, ran the 1 1/16 miles in the slop in 1:46.13.

- Pagan Moon ($9), under Fogelsonger, took over from pacesetter Rainbow Inthestorm inside the eighth pole to win the $66,250 by 1 1/2 lengths. Pagan Moon, a Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon, covered six furlongs in 1:11.74.

- Plata ($11.20) led gate to wire under Pino to win the $83,750 by one length over Sticky, who finished one-length ahead of entry-mate Silmaril. Plata, trained by Katie Voss, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.13.