Updated on 05/06/2011 11:08AM

Pimlico: Tesio could produce Preakness candidates

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Concealed Identity, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship in December, tries to make it two wins in a row going 1 1/16 miles in the Federico Tesio.

Ruler On Ice, a fast-closing third in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby, and locally based Concealed Identity, a decisive winner the first time he streched out to 1 1/16 miles, head a group of seven 3-year-olds in the $75,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico.

The Tesio, frequently used as a stepping-stone for Maryland horses with an eye on the Preakness, has been shortened from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/16 miles for the first time since 1991. Most recently, 2008 Tesio winner Icabad Crane went on to finish third in the Preakness, although no Tesio winner has taken the Preakness since Deputed Testamony in 1983.

Ruler On Ice shows three rising Beyer Speed Figures of 77-81-83 in his starts this year. Astrology, the horse who nipped him by a head for second in the Sunland Derby, came back to finish second with a 93 Beyer in the Grade 2 Jerome in New York.

Concealed Identity, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship, earned a career-best 83 Beyer for his win in a first-level optional claimer on April 15. Sheldon Russell retains the mount.

“They wanted me to sit him handy in his last start and see if he had anything,” Russell said. “He definitely had more in the tank. This is a step up but he looks competitive. There is some speed in the race. Hopefully we get something to run at."

Russell said he considers J W Blue, fifth in the Grade 2 Rebel and sixth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, as the horse to fear most. J W Blue is based at Delaware Park with trainer Tony Dutrow, who won last year’s Tesio with Bank the Eight.

"I think J W Blue is the horse to beat. He made a nice closing move in the Arkansas Derby," said Russell, referring to J W Blue's ability to pass five horses in the latter stages of the 1 1/8-mile race. "He’ll be behind us so hopefully we can get a jump and beat him to the wire.”