Another year older and a little stronger was all it took to make Tez a winner at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. To most, the performance by the three-year-old son of The Factor might have been just another maiden breaking win but for the connections of Tez, the win has more meaning. Owned by New Orleans Saints' Gayle Benson under her racing moniker G M B Racing, Tez brought home his first victory Friday, April 26 in the fifth race on the program and honored his namesake, former NFL player Cortez Kennedy.
Although Kennedy never wore a New Orleans Saints jersey, he made a huge impact on the ownership and management of the New Orleans Saints organization. The defensive tackle, who appeared in eight Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, served as an advisor for a short time for the Saints prior to his unexpected death in 2017 at the young age of 48.
“Cortez Kennedy never played for the Saints, but he was very close friends with the Bensons (Gayle and Tom), the general manager, Mickey Loomis, and myself,” said Greg Bensel, senior vice president of the New Orleans Saints and racing manager de facto of GMB Racing in a former press release from Indiana Grand. “We always try to name our yearlings with a certain theme. In 2017, we lost two really great guys from the NFL, Will Smith, in a horrific murder, and Cortez Kennedy due to a heart attack. We named one colt Ninety One, which was Will's number, and the other one Tez, which was what everyone called Cortez Kennedy.”
A $130,000 yearling purchase out of the Keeneland Sales in September 2017, Tez, bred for the turf, made his racing debut at Indiana Grand in early August of 2018. After two more starts last season on the turf, the grey colt took the winter off and made his 2019 debut at Keeneland in early April on the turf before returning to Indiana for his win over the one-mile dirt distance in the $31,000 Maiden Special Weight.
Trained by Tom Amoss, six-time leading trainer at Indiana Grand, Tez was reunited with Jockey DeShawn Parker and stayed immersed in horses along the inside of the pack during the early stages of the race. Parker called for Tez to unleash more speed and he responded, scooting up the rail in the final turn and joining Ol Grey Ghost and Fernando De La Cruz for the stretch drive.
Tez never backed down all the way into the stretch, finally getting the edge on Ol Grey Ghost. He cruised under the wire as a two and three-quarter length winner. Ol Grey Ghost was more than five lengths ahead of third place finisher Sassy King and Rodney Prescott.
“Shane Jolivette (assistant trainer for Tom Amoss) told me to be more aggressive warming him up and that made all the difference,” said Parker, who is nearing 5,500 career wins. “When he came out of the gate he was real aggressive and from that point on, he did everything on his own. I can see a difference in him physically too compared to last year. He's more muscular this year and really on the bit more.”
A Louisiana native, Amoss is one of three trainers for GMB Racing, which is a multiple Graded Stakes winning owner. Tez has been with the Amoss Stable since his introduction into racing as a yearling.
A surprise to many racing fans, Tez paid $16.80, $6.80 and $3.00 across the board. He boosted his career bankroll to more than $30,000 in his fifth career start. Not bad for a rookie that has a bright future ahead of him, just like his namesake.
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