Third to Triple Crown champion Justify in last year’s Preakness (G1), Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Tenfold summoned that past classic form in Friday’s $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3). The 5-1 chance muscled his way through in the stretch and prevailed in a three-way finish over 5-2 favorite You’re to Blame and the 7-2 Cordmaker.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen and piloted by Ricardo Santana Jr., Tenfold was winning for the first time since last summer’s Jim Dandy (G2). The Curlin colt was sidelined following a seventh in the Travers (G1), and shaped well in his comeback fourth in a March 5 allowance at Fair Grounds. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the Oaklawn H. (G2) in his latest, he was only seventh but rebounded here.
When the gate opened at Pimlico, another veteran of the 2018 trail, Flameaway, showed his typical speed. But Flying the Flag hustled on the inside to take command through fractions of :23.82, :47.44, and 1:11.44. Tenfold and You’re to Blame, who was squeezed at the start, were reserved near the back, while Cordmaker, initially midpack, lost position and found himself behind those rivals at the crucial juncture.
Although Flameaway put his head in front at the mile mark in 1:36.22, he and Flying the Flag were spent by the top of the stretch. The stalking Wait for It emerged from what was turning into a staggerfest up front, but the closers were just beginning to deploy.
Tenfold engineered a ground-saving trip, at the cost of having to wait for room. That price was worth paying as a seam opened, and he burst through to lead. You’re to Blame rallied wider out, and Cordmaker flashed home in the center of the track, to close the gap. Tenfold made the most of his tactical coup, holding by a neck from You’re to Blame with Cordmaker the same margin away in third.
Formerly conducted at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles, the Pimlico Special was extended to 1 1/4 miles for this renewal. Tenfold clocked 2:02.36 to boost his bankroll to $895,890 from a 10-4-0-1 line.
“This was a definite target because of how he ran in the Preakness last year,” Asmussen said. “This was exactly the outcome we were hoping for.”
“That’s the horse we expected,” Santana said. “We always believed in him. He always tries hard. He didn’t really like the track the other day (in the Oaklawn ‘Cap.) We always had confidence in him and today. I knew he was going to show what he had. He ran a really great race.
“At the three-eighths, I knew I had plenty of horse and I had to be patient and wait for the hole. When the hole opened and I asked him, he gave me a nice kick. I could feel the other horse coming on his side. The second he felt it, he kicked on.”
You’re to Blame’s team believed that his break contributed to the narrow loss.
“He broke a bit slow,” jockey Jose Ortiz said. “I think it cost me the race. I wanted to be in the position Unbridled Juan was. If I was able to be where he was at I think I would have won the race. The slow break cost me a little bit, but that’s horse racing and I’m thankful he still ran a good race.”
“I thought he ran well,” trainer Todd Pletcher commented. “He had a pretty wide trip from that post. He didn’t break great. Jose was able to get him a decent spot down the lane. The winner ran a good race.”
Wait for It held fourth, another 1 3/4 lengths astern of Cordmaker. Next came Just Whistle, who made late headway; Carlino, recent workmate of Preakness contender Bourbon War, who was last early after a bobbling start; Clubman; Unbridled Juan; Rally Cry; Heavy Roller; Flying the Flag; Bobby G; and Flameaway.
Kentucky-bred Tenfold, unraced at two, captured his first two starts at Oaklawn. On the fast track to the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, his hopes of making it to Churchill Downs ended with a fifth in the Arkansas Derby (G1). The still-maturing colt took a step forward in the Preakness, where he closed stoutly and came up three-quarters of a length shy of Justify in third. Tenfold is eligible to continue his development this campaign, and if he passes stiffer tests on the way, could become a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) candidate.
“He just, he’s got it in him,” Asmussen said. “He’s got it in him and you see him today. Ricardo was talking about he’s got a lot of horse under him, but when he makes the lead, the addition of blinkers has kind of gotten him a little more serious in his training and hopefully this horse is going to have a huge rest of the year.”
“The sky is the limit for him. I don’t think he’s really laid his body down yet. He’s a sound horse and everything in the pedigree gets better with age.”
Tenfold was produced by the winning Tapit mare Temptress, herself a half-sister to Grade 3 scorer Donegal Moon. Tenfold’s third dam, champion turf mare Possibly Perfect, hails from the family of Grade 1 winners Coil and Chiropractor.
The second straight Pimlico Special winner sired by Curlin, after Irish War Cry a year ago, Tenfold kicked off a graded triple for his sire. The Hall of Famer, who was also responsible for Pimlico Special third Cordmaker and thus almost had that exacta, later celebrated victories by his daughters Point of Honor in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and front-running Mylady Curlin in the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3).
Mylady Curlin, the 3-1 second choice in her stakes debut, fended off a prolonged challenge from 2-1 favorite Golden Award. Adding piquancy to the stretch duel was the jockey angle. Mylady Curlin was ridden by Luis Saez, who was aboard the disqualified Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby, and Golden Award had Tyler Gaffalione, the regular rider of War of Will who was most hampered by Maximum Security in the Derby.
Digging in gamely, Mylady Curlin refused to let Golden Award get the better of her and reached the wire first by a nose. There was a five-length gap back to Gio Game, followed by Another Broad; Isotope; the Curlin filly Timeless Curls; and My Miss Lilly.
“She broke pretty well,” Saez recapped. “I was running pretty good – last time I rode her at Keeneland she tried so much. Today, she had a clean break and was in the lead. And more distance, it was better, and when she came to the stretch it was really a battle. I had the feeling I had it all the way. At one point she (Golden Award) got there, but I felt I had it.”
Mylady Curlin completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.64, just off Private Terms’ mark of 1:47.20, to cap a successful day for trainer Brad Cox as well. His Covfefe blasted to a new track record in the Miss Preakness (G3), and Ulele missed by only a half-length in the Black-Eyed Susan. Cox will send out two in Saturday’s Preakness, Owendale and Warrior’s Charge.
“We’ve liked her from the get-go,” Cox said of Mylady Curlin. “She’s a nice filly. She ran a big race at Keeneland the other day. Even though it was a four-horse field, she had a wide trip. Luis rode her that day; the only thing I asked him to do (today) was to ask her to run away from there.
“I think having the lead and the rail was a nice place. I thought she fit well with these horses on paper. She got some good figures. The one thing I was concerned about was running her back a little quickly off the allowance race (April 25), but she was training well and looked good.”
A homebred for the Sather Family, Mylady Curlin cleared her second- and third-level allowance conditions at Oaklawn and Keeneland, respectively, in her last pair. She sports a record of 10-5-2-1, $301,903.
Like Tenfold and Point of Honor, Mylady Curlin is bred on the similar cross of Curlin over a Seattle Slew-line mare. Her dam by Slewdledo, multiple stakes scorer Ladyledue, is a full sister to Grade 3 victor I’madrifter.