It is going to be tough to find good value in the Preakness Stakes‘ short field this Saturday at Pimlico. The Kentucky Derby winner Justify is entered along with the runner-up, Good Magic. Both horses seem to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field, and that is expected to reflect on the tote board. In this article, I am going to take a deeper dive into one of the race’s more unknown horses: Tenfold.
Much like Justify, this son of Curlin took some time getting to the track. His first race did not occur until early February at Oaklawn Park, but he won that 1 1/16-mile race gate-to-wire by over 5 lengths on a fast track. He returned to Oaklawn in an optional claiming race at the same distance and showed an ability to rate, sitting just off of the lead until the final few strides when he got up in time for the victory. The runner-up that day, Navistar, has shown some ability for trainer Todd Pletcher (he was purchased for $900,000) and may be one to watch for down the road. The third-place finisher, Plainsman, returned to take sixth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, while the fourth- and fifth-place finishers won next out at Hawthorne and Oaklawn, respectively.
After winning his first two starts, Tenfold’s trainer, Steve Asmussen, really threw him into the deep end, entering him in the Arkansas Derby. He ran well, finishing fifth in his first graded stakes start, and was only beaten by a 1/2-length for second. The winner, Magnum Moon, went uncontested on a slower pace that day, which made it tough to rally from off of the lead. He ran a stalking trip in the three-path, then moved to run four-wide at the 1/4-pole, but just could not get up to Magnum Moon. Although the Arkansas Derby runners did not fare well in the Kentucky Derby (Solomini was 10th, Combatant 18th, and Magnum Moon 19th), all are graded stakes-placed at the minimum, so they’re still a very classy bunch. Missing from the group above is the Arkansas Derby runner-up, Quip. He will most likely be the third choice on Saturday and carries good form after winning the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March.
Asmussen has won the Preakness twice – in 2007 with Curlin and in 2009 with Rachel Alexandra – so he has the experience to get Tenfold into the Pimlico winner’s circle. Along with training Curlin, Asmussen also trained Tenfold’s dam, Temptress, a Tapit mare.
“He’s a big, tall Ichabod Crane-looking kind of guy,” Asmussen said recently. “I was fortunate to have had his sire as well as his dam. Both of them were growthy horses that got better with time. Maybe, just emotionally, I really always liked the horse because of that connection, his personality. But I think he has a ton of talent. He’s going to have very good races in his future. I’m just hoping Saturday is what we’re talking about and not a year from now. He’s got a lot of talent, but he is still somewhat young mentally.”
Tenfold has had five weeks off since his last race, so he’s easily more rested than Justify, Good Magic, and the other Kentucky Derby runners that will run back on just two weeks’ rest, and has posted three works since the Arkansas Derby:
- April 30: 5 furlongs in 1:01.80
- May 7: 5 furlongs in 1:00.20
- May 14: 4 furlongs in :49.40
The Preaknes pace should set up nicely for his running style. As told more extensively in the Preakness Stakes Wagering Guide, several runners will want to press the pace, including Justify, Quip, and Diamond King. If Tenfold can tuck in behind that first tier of runners and save ground, then he will have a great shot to come in and hit the exotics. His current odds in Las Vegas (before the official morning line is released) are 25-1, which could really increase the value of all exotic wagers.
Be sure to tune in Saturday and root on this son of Curlin to see if he can win the Preakness, just like his dad!