Don't expect any Kentucky Derby starters to surface in today's Grade III Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico.
But if the history of the race is any indication, a Preakness starter or two will emerge from the field.
Looming, last year's Tesio runner-up who was disqualified and placed out of the money, and past winners Woods of Windsor (1993) and Speakerphone (1992) made their next start in the Preakness, although the best finish was the sixth-place effort by Woods of Windsor.
For today's race, Bud Delp, trainer of expected favorite Western Echo, who is being ridden by Kent Desormeaux, has said he's thinking of the Illinois Derby, not the Preakness, for his horse's next start.
Last week, Delp laughed and said maybe if Western Echo breaks the track record, he would reconsider. But the Eclipse PTC Award-winning trainer and the horse's owners, Harry and Tom Meyerhoff, already have won a Preakness -- in 1979 with Spectacular Bid.
But at least three other trainers -- Billy Boniface, Leon Blusiewicz and Carlos Garcia -- starting horses in the Tesio have said they will consider the Preakness if their horses turn in exceptional efforts.
Boniface and Blusiewicz have won Tesios, and in 1983 Boniface pulled off the only Tesio-Preakness double with Deputed Testamony.
When Deputed Testamony won, Boniface said, "The Tesio was earlier in the year and we needed to get another race into him before the Preakness. We took him to Philadelphia Park and he won the Keystone Stakes."
But now that the Tesio is a month before the Preakness, "The race is perfectly spaced to go back in the Preakness in four
weeks. Let the Derby horses bang heads in Kentucky and then come here and face us on our home turf," Boniface said. "But I've got to win today before I can even begin talking Preakness."
Boniface disputes track oddsmaker Clem Florio's estimation that the Boniface runner, Oliver's Twist, will be a long shot. "More like second or third choice," Boniface said.
As usual, the trainer exudes confidence in his runner.
"Who's the horse to beat?" he was asked.
"Oliver's Twist," he said.
Blusiewicz won the Tesio in 1991 with Tong Po, when he was using the race to get his colt ready for the Wood Memorial. But Tong Po bucked shins and, after incurring other injuries, was retired.
Like Boniface, Blusiewicz is adding blinkers to his horse's equipment today and minces few words on the strategy he has devised for his starter, Mighty Magee.
"There's a lot of speed in the race, but we intend on going right to the front," Blusiewicz said. "He ran head and head with the best filly in the country in his last start," the trainer added, referring to Mighty Magee's fourth-place finish behind Serena's Song in the Jim Beam Stakes.
"After the race, [jockey] Randy Romero said he needed blinkers, and they are going to help him a ton."
Like Go For Gin, another offspring of the sire Cormorant, Blusiewicz said Mighty Magee doesn't want to be held back. "And I was praying for rain, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. This horse loves the mud."
If Mighty Magee turns in a top performance, Blusiewicz is thinking Preakness and Metropolitan Mile. "But, if he shows he's just a horse, then the other option is the Illinois-Ohio Derby route."
Garcia has Pimlico's hot jockey, Mark Johnston, on He's Got Gall, and has said the rider will be laying closer to the pace today than when he was beaten in his last start in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park. A winning effort would send He's Got Gall into the Preakness. A losing trip would mean the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard.
Trainer Donald Barr, who starts Flying Punch, said earlier this week that he has no Preakness aspirations for his horse, the upset winner of the Private Terms Stakes. "He's just a horse," Barr said.
And Eddie Kenneally, who will run Jack Kent Cooke's Broad Act in the Tesio, said the Preakness hasn't yet been a consideration. As with several other Tesio starters, the horse wasn't nominated to the Triple Crown races.
Two Punch, the state's leading stallion in 1994, heads the list of 15 Maryland stallions with offspring in today's added-money events. Last year, offspring of Two Punch -- Stars Knockout, Calipha and Taking Risks -- won three of the five races that comprise the Maryland Spring Breeders' Challenge card.
This year, Two Punch has five starters in the five stakes, followed by Norquestor, who has four offspring in the lineups. Next at two starters is Waquoit and the recently deceased Caveat.
All of these stallions, except Caveat, are breeding large books of mares this year. Before he died in February, Caveat bred two mares. One of them, Y. Anne, is pregnant. The mare's owner, Carey Miller of Potomac, is expected to possess the last Caveat offspring.
One horse on today's card, the filly Dynamic Broad in the Caesar's Wish Stakes, might actually be carrying a foal. Boniface said the filly was bred just a few days ago to Private Terms, but it will be another 10 days or so before the owners will know if she is pregnant.