04/25/2013 3:12PM

Pimlico: Wabbajack worth a look in Tesio


There are several intriguing 3-year-olds in the lineup for Saturday’s $75,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, a two-turn race that occasionally has served as a springboard to the Preakness and two years ago produced Ruler On Ice, winner of the Belmont Stakes.

Saturday’s 10-horse field for the 1 1/16-mile Tesio includes Abstraction, whose nearly 10-length maiden win at Fair Grounds last month produced a 92 Beyer Speed Figure; Rienzi, winner of a first-level allowance by 6 1/2 lengths at Parx; and Dynamic Strike, a stakes winner whose three-race winning streak ended when he endured a troubled trip in the Private Terms at Laurel.

But the most alluring candidate might be Wabbajack, who remains a maiden after three career starts. Wabbajack looks interesting because of his most recent company line, his pedigree, and the fact he is one of just four Tesio starters nominated to the Triple Crown series.

Wabbajack comes out of a second-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile maiden event at Gulfstream Park that has turned out to be a key race. The horse who beat Wabbajack by 1 1/4 lengths, Saint Vinegar, returned to win a first-level allowance in New York. Freedom Child and War Dancer, third and fourth in the Feb. 9 maiden race, also came back to win their next starts.

Wabbajack, based in New York with trainer James Toner, is a half-brother to Sharp Impact, winner of the Grade 3 Lexington as a 3-year-old of 2003.

So if you’re looking for a live longshot, you could do worse than take a stab with Wabbajack.

Abstraction, Rienzi, and Dynamic Strike merit respect based on their best races. Of the trio, only Dynamic Strike is a Triple Crown nominee. In his first start around two turns in the 1 1/8-mile Private Terms, Dynamic Strike was steadied and had to go extremely wide turning for home, winding up fifth of nine. Trainer Richard Smalll has not had a Preakness starter since Looming finished seventh in 1994.

Rienzi did not run well when trainer John Servis shipped him to Gulfstream Park to make his 3-year-old debut on New Year’s Day, but improved his Beyer Figure 30 points when he returned home to Parx to clear his first allowance condition easily on April 6. He is a half-brother to Mr. Pursuit, winner of the 2006 Oklahoma Derby.

Abstraction moves directly to the stakes ranks for just his third career start. He has recorded a pair of five-furlong bullet moves this month at Churchill Downs for trainer David Carroll.

◗ The card also includes the $50,000 Shine Again, a 1 1/16-mile race for Maryland-bred fillies and mares. Among the contenders are Celtic Katie, who soared to a career-high 84 Beyer Figure winning a first-level allowance last time out, and Touch the Birds, who returns from a two-month layoff following a pair of stakes placings against open company.