Copper Tax earns Preakness S. (G1) berth with Federico Tesio S. win

Copper Tax’s come-from-behind victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio S. at Laurel Park earned the 3-year-old son of Copper Bullet an automatic berth in the starting gate for this year’s Preakness S. (G1), should his connections choose to run in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

Saturday’s win at 1 1/8-miles came after an adventurous trip. Breaking from the outside post in the field of 10, Copper Tax stumbled out of the gate and was hustled to keep with the field. He was then forced five-wide around the first turn when two horses to his inside bore out.

He made his way up to sixth entering the backstretch and steadily gained ground on the straight to get within four lengths of the lead entering the final turn. Going wide once again, he moved into second at the top of the stretch, with pacesetter Speedyness some three lengths in front. Copper Tax steadily cut into the margin down the lengthy stretch and won by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.01.

“I don’t know,” trainer Gary Capuano said about the Preakness. “It’s a stretch, but we’ll see. We’ll see how he comes out. He’s not a big horse. We’ll make that decision in a week or two. He’s always showed the talent.”

Copper Tax’s talent has carried him to seven wins in 10 starts, including four stakes victories at distances from six furlongs to 1 1/8-miles. Owned by Rose Petal Stable LLC, the bay colt has earned $386,500.

Bred by Lance Sullenberger, Copper Tax is out of Wilhelmina, who is a half-sister to two-time Venezuelan champion sprinter Strength Mask (Ven) Wilhelmina was bred to Copper Bullet for this season.

Copper Bullet, a Grade 2 winning son of More Than Ready, is represented by his second crop this year. His 2024 fee is $7,500 S&N.