BALTIMORE, MD – A patient and perfectly-timed ride from Ricardo Santana, Jr., was the difference-maker as Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Tenfold made his long-awaited return to the winner’s circle in Friday’s $300,000 Pimlico Special Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.

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Breaking from post 8 at 5/1 odds, Tenfold took back and watched the pace, led by Flying the Flag and Flameaway, unfold in front of him through opening fractions of :23.82, :47.44, and 1:11.44. Still riding the rail near the rear as the field hit the far turn, Tenfold began slowly advancing along the inside before tipping out a path to surpass a weakening Heavy Roller. Suddenly sitting sixth within a few lengths of the front, Tenfold changed leads expertly and began to move, but was forced to wait for room due to Flying the Flag, Flameaway, and Wait for It creating a three-wide wall.

A thin opening appeared between Flameaway and Wait for It, and Tenfold quickly surged through it to take the lead. Finding himself up front in midstretch, the Steve Asmussen trainee dug deep to fend off late rallies from the 5/2 favorite You’re to Blame and Cordmaker to win by a neck in a final time of 2:02.36 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the fast main track.

“That’s the horse we expected,” said Santana, Jr. “We always believed in him. He always tries hard. He didn’t really like the track the other day (when finishing seventh in the Oaklawn Handicap [G2]). 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 3/8 (pole), 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.”

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You’re to Blame broke slowly and was squeezed at the start, forcing him to run farther back than he normally likes. Jockey Jose Ortiz didn’t panic, though, and his steed still had enough talent to run wide down the middle of the lane and outneck Cordmaker for second.

“He broke a bit slow,” Ortiz said. “I think it cost me the race. I wanted to be in the position Unbridled Juan was (in mid-pack). 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.”

Wait for It faded in the stretch run to finish fourth ahead of Just Whistle, while Carlino was 3/4 of a length back in sixth. Clubman made a bid for the front at the top of the stretch but couldn’t sustain it and drifted back to seventh at the wire, while Unbridled Juan was a 1/2-length ahead of Rally Cry for eighth. Heavy Roller, a spent Flying the Flag, Bobby G, and a faltering Flameaway completed the order of finish. War Story was a trainer scratch.

Tenfold’s win was his first since winning the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) last summer at Saratoga and improved his overall record to 10-4-0-1. The 4-year-old son of Curlin, a close third here in last year’s Preakness Stakes (G1), has now earned $895,890 and may target the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on July 6 for his next start.

“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. 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.”

Tenfold returned $12.20 to win, $5.40 to place, and $4 to show. You’re to Blame brought back $4.40 to place and $3 to show, while Cordmaker paid $3.60 to show.