Never Gone South looks to stretch out in Tesio
Photo by Laurie Asseo.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
M M G Stables’ consistent multiple stakes winner Never Gone South, never worse than third in six lifetime starts, will try two turns for the first time in Saturday’s $100,000 Federico Tesio at Laurel Park.
Each of Never Gone South’s last four races has come at Laurel, including his most recent in the one-mile Miracle Wood Stakes Feb. 15, where he set the early pace before tiring to third as the favorite, beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Tesio rival Marengo Road.
Trainer Cal Lynch cross-entered Never Gone South in Saturday’s seven-furlong Bay Shore (G2) at Aqueduct, where he drew post three of eight. Never Gone South will break from outside post seven in the Tesio at 116 pounds, six fewer than co-highweights Awesome Speed and Governor Malibu.
“We like to support the home track. We’re stabled in Maryland here at Laurel and we obviously want to support The Stronach Group and run here if we can. He likes it here and there’s no reason not to,” Lynch said. “The last race we were kind of expecting him to run a little better. We ran him back a little quick and that’s why we skipped the stake here three weeks ago to wait for the Tesio. The reason we cross-entered in the seven-eighths [race] is that’s the distance we were thinking. We didn’t think it was going to come up as tough as it did.”
Winner of the Strike Your Colors Stakes last summer at Delaware Park, Never Gone South was second to Awesome Speed in the James F. Lewis III Stakes and Vorticity in the Marylander Stakes to cap his juvenile season.
He opened this year with a front-running 7 ¼-length victory over Marengo Road in the Frank Whiteley Stakes Jan. 16 prior to the Miracle Wood but passed on the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms, where Tesio entrants Flash McCaul and Marengo Road ran second and fourth, respectively.
“The race that he ran here when he ran in the Whiteley was a very good race, probably numbers-wise was the best race of his life,” Lynch said. “He’s never gone around two turns so we wanted to give him that chance even though it didn’t look like he stayed last time when we went a mile. But we got a better post this time, an outside draw, so we’ll give him this chance to run two turns before we decide whether to go back sprinting with him or not.”
In addition to the test of distance, the 36th running of the 1 1/8-mile Tesio offers Triple Crown-nominated horses an automatic ‘Win and You’re In’ berth to the 141st Preakness Stakes (G1) May 21 at Pimlico Race Course.
Never Gone South, a sophomore son of multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Munnings, was among the 368 original Triple Crown nominees in January.
“The chance to run in the Preakness would be very exciting for anybody. It’s always an added bonus and the owners would be delighted,” trainer Cal Lynch said. “We’ll know more after the [Tesio]. It’s going to be his first time around two turns. I know his last race was a mile but it wasn’t around two turns and we just want to give him that chance to prove he can or can’t go the distance, so the mile and three-sixteenths wouldn’t be a big jump up for the Preakness though the competition might be a little stiffer. When you get the opportunity to run in a Triple Crown race you always want to do that. The owners are very excited and are putting a lot of money into the game.”