Joe resolute in Tesio win * The Racing Biz

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With a sixteenth of a mile to go in Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes, it was clear who would be the winning trainer. We even knew it would be an exact Presidential.

What we didn’t know yet was which horse would get the money.

When the dust settled, Joe, named for President Joe Biden, valiantly defended his stablemate Mr. Jefferson (by Constitution) by a head to earn the second stakes victory of his career. He was five lengths back to show the horse Shake Em Loose.

“Joe laid it all out,” said trainer Mike Trombetta, who won (and finished second). “He really dug in and fought back. Give him a lot of credit.”

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind was the next step: Would Joe move to the Preakness? Owner Stuart Grant, who runs as The Elkstone Group, had said in February that he was looking for a road to Middle Jewel for Joe; and the Tesio serves as “win and in” for that contest.

But Joe has not been nominated for the Triple Crown series. A Preakness start would now cost its owner $150,000.

“Stuart is a very experienced owner, and I’ll have to see what he thinks about this whole thing and if he wants to try it,” Trombetta said. “We will have to see how the horse comes out, obviously. But you know, if everything goes well, we’ll have to ask him if he wants to take a roll.”

And the coach’s thoughts?

“I mean, I would love to. You know, it’s always exciting,” she said.

  • Resolute Joe in Tesio’s Triumph

    It was a Mike Trombetta-trained exact in Saturday’s Federico Tesio at Laurel Park, with Joe narrowly edging out stablemate Mr. Jefferson to win.

At the Tesio, Joe stood out throughout with jockey Victor Carrasco, pushing Vine Jet’s moderate early pace of 49.63 for the first half mile and 1:14.58 for three quarters. Joe had put his head forward at that moment.

Joe pushed his way into the lane and for a moment seemed to be free. But then Mr. Jefferson, with Jaime Rodríguez in shackles, staged his rally and for a while it looked as if he was going to walk right by.

“When I felt someone coming up on me from the outside, I switched my club to the left hand at the 16th club and felt like I had found another gear,” said winning driver Carrasco. “[Mr Jefferson] put like a head in front of me. I don’t really like to go left-handed because he likes to drift a little bit, but I had to do it and once I did it, he went ahead and did it.”

As the 7-5 favorite, Joe returned $4.80 to win. The exact one dollar, with Mr. Jefferson 15-1 under, returned $30.10. The running time for the nine furlongs was 1:52.30 over a fast main course.

Unlike some of his rivals, Joe hasn’t had the most active campaign. A Declaration of War colt, he made just his third start of the season and sixth overall at Tesio. That is by design.

“I told Stuart that if you want to try something serious in the three-year-old division, you have to pick one. [race] sit down,” Trombetta said.

So they sat in the mid-February mile-long Miracle Wood, waiting from a January assignment to March 19 Private Terms. Joe raced to take second that day, nearly two lengths behind winner Shake Em Loose.

The gap between races, Trombetta said, may have left his runner “a little bit vulnerable” in Private Terms. But with that race under his belt, he was stronger in today’s competition.

“I was hoping it would move up a little bit,” Trombetta said. “Today she may have done it.”

It was also an important step forward for Mr. Jefferson. He had gotten into trouble in three New York starts, butting heads with up-and-coming runners like Zandon, Mo Donegal, One Eye and others while he was well beaten on New York’s road to the Triple Crown.

“I always wanted to give him a chance to be a good horse,” Trombetta said of the runner-up, owned by breeder R. Larry Johnson. “Honestly, I feel like some of the New York stuff just didn’t work out.”

Show horse Shake Em Loose had attracted much of the pre-race attention. Owner-trainer Rodolfo Sánchez-Salomón had claimed him back in November for $16,000 and then guided him to two stakes wins, including a solid score over Joe at Private Terms.

That win prompted Sánchez-Salomón to put up the $6,000 needed for the final regular nomination to make the Shakin It Up gelding eligible for the Triple Crown. In today’s contest, he didn’t have the cleanest rides, but he did come in third place.

Sanchez-Salomon was pleased with his horse’s effort, but did not commit to the Preakness.

“I was happy with him. I think he ran well,” the coach said. “It was barely blowing when he came back. I think he got a bit stuck on the inside at the far corner. I thought he did his best throughout the race. I’m not sure [about the Preakness]. That is a great decision. I’d like to see how it goes in the next few days. I am happy with him. He didn’t have the best ride, but he ran well.”

Meanwhile, in the winner’s circle, Trombetta recounted Grant’s approach to Joe’s campaign to date.

“I think he’s been very grounded throughout the whole process. You know, we never had any conversations about Fair Grounds or Oaklawn or New York or anything,” the coach said. “He said, ‘Let’s take it across Maryland and see where it takes us.’ I think he wanted to let the horse speak for him.”

GRADES While the featured bets of the day went to Laurel-based brokers, Luna Belle at Weber City Miss and Joe at Resio, two supporting bets went to outsiders, and both were set by Jevian Toledo. In the $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley, a seven furlong event for kids ages three and up, the lightweight Disco Pharoah cruised to a three-length win for his second win in four races for trainer Ray Handal… In the $100,000 Heavenly Cause for Mile Run fillies and mares, Pennybaker, a French import who entered a four-fight win streak after switching from turf to synthetic, made her winning gravel debut, rolling to win by nearly seven bodies. She has been trained by Michael Stidham for Godolphin…