Lebda among late Triple Crown noms
Lebda won the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
Euro Stable’s multiple 3-year-old stakes winner Lebda, based at Laurel Park with trainer Claudio Gonzalez, is among 22 horses made a late nomination to the 2020 Triple Crown.
The deadline for late nominations was June 4. Euro’s Valter Ramos put up the $3,000 fee, which was halved when the original deadline was extended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Early nominations, at a cost of $600, numbered 347 when they closed Jan. 25.
Lebda, a son of Raison d’Etat out of the Hook and Ladder mare Lenders Way, was last seen capturing the Private Terms at about 1 1/16 miles by 4 ¼ lengths March 14 at Laurel under jockey Alex Cintron. Live racing was paused in Maryland following the March 15 program and resumed May 30.
“After the last race, he won really good going two turns and [Cintron] never hit him; he just put his hands down,” Gonzalez said Friday, later sending out Galerio ($5.60) to win Laurel’s fourth race and Buddy’s Run ($4.40) to capture the ninth race finale. “He said he’s one of the best horses he’s ever ridden.”
The Private Terms was the second straight victory for Lebda, following a three-quarter-length triumph in the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 15 to open his sophomore season. He owns four wins, one second and two thirds in eight starts, all with Gonzalez.
Ramos purchased Lebda for $100,000 out of the Dec. 10 disbursement of Joseph Besecker, Maryland’s leading owner of 2019. Besecker paid just $1,000 for Lebda during Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling sale in October 2018 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.
“They paid only $1,000 for him, and he has the class like a $2 million horse,” Gonzalez said. “Nothing bothers him. He’s training really good, like a really good horse. He does everything right. He’s like a Cadillac. You push the button, and he goes.”
Lebda has had seven timed works at Laurel since the Private Terms, most recently going five furlongs in 59.20 seconds May 29, the fastest of 26 horses. Without a definite target, Gonzalez opted to bypass a work Friday.
“The owner is a really good owner, a really good person, and that’s why I try to run in the big races because you never know, especially when they’re doing good,” Gonzalez said. “I skipped this week’s breeze because we didn’t have a race for him. Last week, he breezed fantastic. He’s doing really good. He’s happy.”
Gonzalez is keeping his options open for Lebda’s next race. He had been pointing to Laurel’s 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio, which carries an automatic berth for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness Stakes (G1). While Preakness was postponed from May 16 to Oct. 3, the Tesio has yet to be rescheduled.
The Belmont Stakes (G1), shortened from 1 ½ to 1 1/8 miles, will kick off this year’s Triple Crown June 20. The Kentucky Derby (G1) will be run Sept. 5.
“I’m waiting. I don’t know what they’re going to do here. I don’t know if they’re going to put up a race just for 3-year-olds,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t like to ship horses and run. That’s why I want to wait a little bit more here, to see what they’re going to do.”
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