04/20/2005 11:00PM

Malibu Moonshine King's ace

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Malibu Moonshine (6) defeats Hello Jerry by a neck in the Private Terms at Laurel on March 26.

King T. Leatherbury, with more than 6,000 wins to his credit, is the third leading trainer in wins in racing history. He has won 51 training titles at Pimlico or Laurel Park, and saddled more than 300 winners in four consecutive seasons during the 1970's.

Yet for all his accomplishments, Leatherbury has nearly always been merely a spectator for the Maryland's most prestigious race, the Preakness Stakes.

Leatherbury has saddled just three Preakness starters, the last in 1985, when I Am the Game finished fourth behind Tank's Prospect. His other two starters were Thirty Eight Paces, fourth in 1981, and Indigo Star, fifth in 1978.

This spring, the 72-year-old Leatherbury could have himself another Preakness horse. His 3-year-old colt Malibu Moonshine will seek to solidify his credentials when he faces five others in Saturday's $150,000 Federico Tesio Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile race that's considered Pimlico's prep for the second leg of the Triple Crown series.

The Tesio tops a Saturday card that includes four other stakes on a 10-race program.

, the most accomplished horse in the Tesio field with a 5-for-9 record, is already a three-time stakes winner. He's rematched against Hello Jerry, who finished a neck behind him in the one-mile Private Terms at Laurel.

Malibu Moonshine picked up horses late in the Private Terms, coming from sixth at the quarter pole and making up a 1 1/2-length deficit in the final furlong. The final quarter-mile was run in a slow 26.30 seconds, however, so Malibu Moonshine's late rally might not have been as impressive as it appeared visually.

is eligible to improve in the rematch. He was making his first start beyond six furlongs. His Tomlinson distance rating of 366 indicates that Hello Jerry, who like Malibu Moonshine is a son of Malibu Moon, should handle nine furlongs.

If you're willing to draw a line through Legal Control's last start, in which he endured a wide trip from post 9, then he's a viable contender. Two starts ago, Legal Control was beaten less than two lengths by Malibu Moonshine after momentarily taking the lead in deep stretch. He should get a better trip this time from post 5.

New York shipper Byanosejoe isn't nominated to the Triple Crown, but he's a threat Saturday based on his performance in last month's Gotham at Aqueduct. Coming from off the pace, Byanosejoe finished 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Survivalist.