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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Preakness 2014 Contender: Kid Cruz

Kid Cruz wins 2014 Tesio.
Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club


It’s been 31 long years since a winner of the local prep came back to become the hero of racing’s Middle Jewel. Maybe we are due. In this year’s winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes, Kid Cruz, I see at the very least a live longshot for the 2014 Preakness Stakes.

With plenty of early speed like Social Inclusion, Bayern, and Pablo Del Monte lining up to take a shot at Pimlico, the 1 3/16 Classic may set up well for the Linda Rice trained son of Lemon Drop Kid. A confirmed late runner, Kid Cruz  has won three of five lifetime, but has developed quickly since being claimed for $50,000 out of his second start, and first win, last fall at Aqueduct, by Rice on behalf of Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds.

Kid Cruz has been on a sharp upward ascent since his six-length romp in that maiden claimer. In his initial start for his new connections he ran a sharp second in an Aqueduct allowance race in January, and followed that up with a pair of dominant stakes wins in Maryland. Ridden by Maryland regular Julian Pimentel, Kid Cruz rolled to victories in both the Private Terms on March 8 at Laurel, and the Federico Tesio on April 19 at Pimlico. Best known as the rider of local star Ben’s Cat, Pimentel not only knows the Pimlico oval well, but he has proven effective letting the son of the 1999 Belmont Stakes winner, relax early, and close with a powerful punch.

In his first stakes attempt, Kid Cruz won the Private Terms Stakes in fashion you don’t see too often by a colt only making his fourth lifetime start. Dropping to the back of the pack early on, Kid Cruz exploded down the Laurel Park lane to win going away after falling some 20 lengths back of the early leader.

After that impressive victory, Rice intended to bring Kid Cruz up to the big leagues with a run in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. Things did not work out, though, and an alternate plan needed to be used.

“I put him in the Wood with the idea that if he did run well it still kept the door open for the Derby because he did not have any points to get into the Derby,” she said. “But he has had a bit of an issue with his right front shoulder with what I believe is a pinched nerve at the base of his neck. So we were treating him for that. He came up a little sore after his breeze into the Wood and I decided to wait and give it some time, so I wasn’t able to run him in the Wood.”

With the Wood Memorial a no-go, and Kentucky Derby dreams completely faded away, Rice set her sights on the Federico Tesio for a fully recovered Kid Cruz, and the result put him right back onto the Triple Crown trail. In the Tesio, he was not nearly as far back as he was in the Private Terms, but when Pimentel asked for his best run on the far turn, the answer was equally impressive. Kid Cruz came four-wide, rallying off slow early fractions, to make his first start at Old Hilltop a winning one, with a very easy 3 ½-length score.

“He did get a race over the course down there, handled it well,” Rice said. “It’s going to be a big step up in company to run against the Derby horses, particularly California Chrome. It’s a big jump up in competition, but we are hopeful.”

Based at Belmont Park, Kid Cruz was bred by Machmer Hall, and was produced by the Tale of the Cat mare, Layreebelle, making him a half-brother to the nice California filly, Spellbound.

Kid Cruz is scheduled to ship to the site of his Tesio win on Monday, after getting in his final workout for the Preakness this weekend at Belmont.

Those highly concerned with final times, will be quick to dismiss Kid Cruz as a horse too slow to compete with the Preakness runners. I believe that would be a mistake. Both of the tracks on his stakes wins days were very slow, and he won both races quite easily. He is a colt developing at the right time, and should be ready to make a very good account of himself over a familiar track. 

And just in case you were wondering about that Federico Tesio winner to go on and win the Preakness three decades ago … It was Deputed Testamony from the Billy Boniface barn in 1983. Since then, four Tesio winners Broad Brush (1986), Rock Point (1989), Oliver's Twist (1995), and Icabad Crane (2008), and one Tesio bridesmaid Magic Weisner (2002), returned to finish in the money in the Preakness, and another Tesio runner-up Ruler on Ice (2011) won the Belmont.  


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Older Comments about Preakness 2014 Contender: Kid Cruz...

The only thing that gets him beat, Vic. The mightiest have fallen at least once. If he does belong in that elite group, it won't mean he's invincible.
you are forgetting that CONSTANT unknown racing luck
Naw. The 2014 Preakness will be nothing more than a paid workout for California Chrome that will prep him for the Belmont Stakes and the first Triple Crown Championship in 36 years. Just a paid workout for CC.
I started liking this horse way back in January when he finished second in an allowance at Aqueduct. I kept track of him after that and was hooked once he won the Private Terms. Him and Wicked Strong were my two main plays for the Wood so I was pretty bummed that he had to scratch, but I think he's even more ready now than he was then. Driving home from the Derby I said "I'm going to go with a Chrome/Kid Cruz exacta in the Preakness" and I'll be standing by that statement next Saturday at Pimlico. If the Preakness field ends up being what's expected now, there's going to be 4 frontrunners and 2 stalkers in an 8 or 9 horse race. I don't care that Kid Cruz has been beating up on weak competition, I don’t care how slow the times are. The way that horse is able to close into turtle-like paces from as far back as he does and win by widening daylight with his ears pricked is something special. I'm hoping he'll be 15-1 or more next weekend.
He did close into that pace, but you're right. His races are a little bit slow. I just love this horse, also I like his trainer.
Sullivan, in my eyes no. Typically, yes, a slower pace is more impressive to close into because the speed should be able to hold on. But in this case, the other horses are just so bad/slow, that they can't even keep up with their own company. He did close into a pretty solid pace in one of his earlier maidens though, i believe. I'm just not buying into him like others are, yet. Maybe he'll be an exotic play for me, we'll have to see how the race shapes up and get my hands on some PP's.
Derek, they went 1:16 and he still closed into it. That doesn't make it more impressive?
I'm going to play devil's advocate here, because too me, the very slow times are important. More important, he has absolutely not beaten anyone close to even Grade 3-territory. This is a monsterous jump in class that I don't think he's ready for. The Tesio had 3/4 mile in 1:16.39!? When it's that slow, i'm weary. Not taking anything away from Kid Cruz, he's a good horse, and has potential, but this is The Preakness.
Laurel's track was definitely slow that for the Private Terms, but I don't believe Pimlico was too bad for the Federico Tesio. That race was just ran at a crawling pace, and he still beat them easily (basically the same bunch as the Private Terms). The competition is certainly tougher in the Preakness, but it may have the ideal pace scenario for him. I can envision him being 15 lengths behind on the backstretch, while everyone else is bunched up front doing 46 and change for the half. If he's within 5 of the lead entering the stretch, he might get there in time.
Red Bullet Jr!
i'm so excited about seeing Kid Cruz in the Preakness. i've been high on him since i handicapped the Private Terms, and i just love a good closer. i think he's ready for a step up to the big leagues, and think he's very live in the Preakness!
Would be cool to see a horse that was claimed 4 races ago go on to win the Preakness.
I think he has a good shot with so much speed in the race including the probable odds on favorite. The final race times IMO aren’t as import period, but especially for a closer; What’s more important is how fast the end of the race was run. The same slow final time/fast close was true for Commanding Curve’s races. Regardless, I think the “new shooters”, including Dynamic Impact, have a great chance at an upset because several of them have competed against and beaten horses that actually ran in the Derby.
It was a very nice sweeping move with a nice kick by Kid Cruz. Linda Rice knows how to get a horse ready for a big performance, too.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

As Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board of Directors of The Exceller Fund. Brian also consults for leading contest site Derby Wars, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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