06/18/2004 12:00AM

Groom Tesse a threat in Milano

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Italy's best older horse, Altieri, will be tested by recent Italian Derby winner Groom Tesse at San Siro on Sunday in the $370,000, Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano.

A 6-year-old British-bred, Altieri is 3 for 3 this season, but all of his races have been at 1 1/4 miles, the last in the Group 1 Premio Presidente della Repubblica in Rome. Trainer Vittorio Caruso is sending Altieri into uncharted territory, as the horse has never been as far as the Milano's 1 1/2 miles.

He will be vulnerable, therefore, to Groom Tesse, a Groom Dancer colt fresh from a 2 1/2-length triumph in the 1 1/2-mile Italian Derby on May 30. As a 3-year-old, Groom Tesse will get 14 pounds from his older rivals on the European scale of weights. That, plus the new distance for Altieri, could be enough to tip the balance in Groom Tesse's favor.