06/08/2013 1:35PM

Finger Lakes: Tequila Hero, French Wine still looking to fulfill potential

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Early in their 2-year-old seasons, Tequila Hero and French Wine were talented enough to pick up small chunks of the purse in the richest stakes held at Finger Lakes, the New York Breeders’ Futurity.

The potential they flashed has yet to be fulfilled, but both are still too young to write off. Tequila Hero and French Wine will look to take the next step forward in the second of two allowance races on Tuesday’s card at Finger Lakes, an open company nonwinners-of-three-lifetime race that carries a $23,000 purse and is carded at a mile and 40 yards.

Last fall, Tequila Hero upset the $125,000 Aspirant at 24-1 and followed up by rallying from 10th to finish fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the $247,000 New York Breeders’ Futurity for New York-breds.

Both of Tequila Hero’s races to begin his 3-year-old campaign have been solid. A homebred for owner-trainer Michael Lecesse, Tequila Hero cleared his first allowance condition against open company May 10 and came back three weeks later to finish second at the same distance and conditions as Tuesday’s race.

Those two races should set him up for a peak effort making the third start of his form cycle, which is a strong trainer angle for Lecesse. Over the past five years, Lecesse shows a 5-for-13 record (38 percent) with horses making their third start following a layoff in an allowance route.

In fall 2011, French Wine began his career by finishing third in the Aspirant and second in the New York Breeders’ Futurity. He did not win his maiden, however, until his eighth lifetime start at Presque Isle Downs. Back at Finger Lakes, French Wine showed late-season improvement when he romped by nearly 18 lengths in an allowance going 1 1/16 miles.

Tuesday’s race will be French Wine’s first start since late November, but trainer Michael Ferraro shows decent numbers with long absentees returning in a route (3 for 12, 25 percent with a $2.60 return on investment).

The field also includes Smokem’s Charm, who finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of French Wine as the runner-up in the 2011 Aspirant. Smokem’s Charm stretches out beyond six furlongs for the first time after winning an entry-level allowance by four lengths.

◗ In race 4, a first-level allowance for New York-breds going a mile and 40 yards, Purge Bird looks like a standout after beating nonwinners-of-three open company by 3 3/4 lengths on May 31.