04/21/2007 12:00AM

Xchanger romps in Tesio to cap Shuman's big day


Trainer Mark Shuman enjoyed a perfect day Saturday at Pimlico, going 3 for 3 with the stakes horses he entered in the Spring Racing Festival.

Shuman's sweep was highlighted by Xchanger's dominating performance in the featured $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds.

Shuman also pulled off upsets with 6-1 Talent Search in the $77,800 Jim McKay Sprint and 8-1 My Girlie in the $88,000 Northview Stallion Station for Maryland-bred or Maryland Million-nominated fillies and mares.

The 1 1/8-mile Tesio was supposed to be a stepping-stone to the Preakness for the Maryland-based Etude. But he tired badly through the stretch and finished fifth of six as the 3-5 favorite. The only horse Etude beat was Belly Rub, who was 3 for 3 racing against New York-breds but was stretched out beyond seven furlongs for the first time.

Instead, the Tesio became Xchanger's show as he redeemed himself for back-to-back off-the-board finishes at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 3 Rebel and $250,000 Southwest Stakes.

Ridden for the first time by Ramon Dominguez, Xchanger ($6.80) contested the pace up front with 25-1 longshot Pink Viper. With about three furlongs remaining, Dominguez asked Xchanger for more and he opened up a big lead entering the stretch and was hand-ridden to the wire. His 4 3/4-length margin of victory did not reflect how easily he won the race. The winning time was 1:49.98.

Pink Viper, a New York-based colt coming off a 10th-place finish in the Rushaway at Turfway Park, held onto second with 9-1 shot Zephyr Cat rallying for third.

It was the first victory for Xchanger, a son of Exchange Rate owned by Circle Z Stables, since he took the six-furlong, Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth Park last September. Although Xchanger is a Triple Crown nominee, Shuman would not commit to bringing the colt back to Pimlico on May 19 for the Preakness.

Shuman did admit that he expected all three of his stakes starters to run well.

"They've all come out of their skin the last two weeks," he said. "We got three perfect trips and three perfect rides."

Unlike the March 17 Rebel, in which Xchanger led for six furlongs and then stopped badly, this time he had plenty left.

"I knew we were going pretty quick," Dominguez said of the early fractions of 23.63 and 46.55 seconds. "I had the 4 horse [Pink Viper] to my inside, which kind of surprised me. My horse got strong. I had to commit and let him go."

McKay: Talent Search cruises

Talent Search ($15.60) earned himself a shot at a graded stakes on Preakness Day by romping in the Jim McKay for older sprinters.

Despite being pressured by 25-1 longshot Euro Code through fast early fractions of 22:77 and 44.92 seconds, the 4-year-old Talent Search had plenty left for the stretch and drew off by five lengths, completing six furlongs in 1:09.43.

Euro Code held second, completing a $272.40 exacta.

"He was pressured all the way, but when I asked him to run, he found another gear and he was gone," said jockey Ryan Fogelsonger, who won the Maryland Stallion Station earlier on the card.

Shuman said he will likely bring back Talent Search for the Grade 3, $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup Sprint on the Preakness undercard.

* My Girlie ($18), in front by 2 1/2 lengths through a half-mile in 48.88 seconds and four in front after six furlongs in 1:12.13, wired the Northview Stallion Station for fillies and mares. A 5-year-old mare ridden by Jose Caraballo, My Girlie finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of 4-5 favorite Silmaril and completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.96.

* Heart Throbbin' ($15.20) won a head bob with 4-5 favorite Hobbitontherocks to capture the $75,750 Maryland Stallion Station for 3-year-olds by a nose. Heart Throbbin', winner of the Dancing Count in January and second to Kentucky Derby contender Hard Spun in an overnight stakes last November, ran six furlongs in 1:11.51 for trainer King Leatherbury.

* Private Scandal ($11), a two-time stakes winner on turf last fall but

0 for 7 previously on dirt, transferred his good grass form to the main track by winning the $55,000 Old Hilltop at 1 1/16 miles. A 7-year-old ridden by Horacio Karamanos for trainer Peter Bazeos, Private Scandal was making his first start since finishing fourth in the Laurel Turf Cup last November. He covered the distance in 1:43.20.