Don’t look now, but the 2019 crop of 3-year-olds is not exclusive territory of those set to run in the Kentucky Derby. There will be some nice horses lying in wait ready to take on the best from Louisville when they make the trip to Pimlico two weeks later for the Preakness Stakes, and chief among them will be the local horse. With a performance way too good for his overmatched competition, Alwaysmining stamped his ticket to racing’s Middle Jewel with an overpowering victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio at Laurel Park.

The winner of five straight races coming in to the Tesio, the handsome son of Stay Thirsty may have turned in his best race yet in the 11 ½-length romp. Granted the horses he faced yesterday are by no means the competition seen in major Derby preps of recent weeks, but the way he is winning of late, clearly points out the Kelly Rubley-trained sophomore as a gelding of real ability.  

In winning his sixth straight, Alwaysmining relaxed kindly for rider Daniel Centeno in the 9 furlong affair, before moving to the outside for clear sailing. From there it was a one-horse show as the overwhelming favorite cantered to, and right on by, the early leaders. He poured it on down the stretch on route to his eye-catching margin of victory. The final time over the fast main track was 1:50.12, the fastest since the race was moved to Laurel a few years ago.

The ability to be patient early could be a key progression for the streaking horse as we look forward to the Preakness. “The plan was to try to make the lead, but I didn’t want to chase them, so I let them go,” Centeno said. “I decided to take him back and put him behind them. He was comfortable, nice and relaxed. I put him on the outside on the backstretch and when it was time to go, he took off.”

Took off for sure. The Fedrico Tesio was his biggest win to date, but it came as no real surprise considering how he has been dominating in 2019. In his current winning streak, Alwaysmining has won the six races by a combined 36 lengths. Included in that  streak was a relatively easy victory over Win Win Win to close out their respective 2-year-old seasons. Win Win Win is considered a live longshot in the Run for the Roses. Earlier this year, he also easily handled Gray Magician, another horse set for the Kentucky Derby. 

Trainer Kelly Rubley had given the Runnymede owned Alwaysmining his cue to be behind horses in the morning, and felt confident that her stable star was not reliant on the lead. “Honestly I was glad to see that he settled and he was able to relax,” Rubley said. “It looked like it got a little tight, but Danny didn’t really think it did. Somebody had to test us sooner or later. I’m glad we got it out of the way here, and I’m confident that he handles it well.”

Rubley believes that the Tesio romp was Alwaysmining’s most impressive win to date. “I think it is because we actually had a bit more of a challenge at the start of this race and I think that was good to see, that this horse is as versatile as we thought he is,” she said.

“[The Preakness] will be a completely different game. I told Kelly, he’ll be completely relaxed. We don’t need to put him on the lead. We can do whatever we want with him,” added Centano.

It’s been a while since a local horse took home the big prize of the Preakness, but in Alwaysmining, the home team will have a strong entrant, who will be fresh and ready while the big names battle it out in the Kentucky Derby.

Photo of Alwaysmining courtesy of Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club