Like Kentucky Derby winner Justify, Tenfold didn’t race as a 2-year-old. And like the heavy favorite in the 143rd Preakness, Tenfold started his 3-year-old season impressively with victories in his first two races.
But that is where the similarities could end and why Tenfold, who finished a disappointing fifth in last month’s Arkansas Derby, will come to Pimilco Race Course on Saturday as a 20-1 long shot while Justify is at 1-2.
But Tenfold has something Justify doesn’t — close bloodlines that go directly to the winner’s circle in the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Tenfold’s sire, Curlin, won the 2007 Preakness.
Tenfold is even trained by Steve Asmussen, who saddled up Curlin 11 years ago in what turned out to be the tightest finish in Preakness history, winning by a head in front of Street Sense, who came in as the favorite after winning the Derby.
Can history repeat itself?
Assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who also worked with Curlin, said Tenfold has recovered well from the Arkansas Derby, where he was in contention going into the backstretch before fading badly and finishing way behind Magnum Moon.
“He’s a fresh horse. He’s put on weight since the Arkansas Derby,” Blasi said at Wednesday’s draw. “He trained really well at Churchill Downs. If the horse stays [in contention], the farther you go, the better he’s going to like it. I think he’ll appreciate the mile and 3/16ths.”
While Curlin was the second favorite at 3-1 going into the 2007 Preakness, Blasi knows that long shots have their own legacy at Pimlico, most recently with 15-1 Owbow winning in 2013.
“I think we’re bringing a fresh, physical, talented horse into this race that’s going to improve with racing,” Blasi said. “He broke his maiden so easily first time out, won again and then had a rough trip against some really good horses in the Arkansas Derby.
“I think he’ll continue to improve with his age. He’s a late-blooming colt. He’s going to mature. We just need to find out we’re capable of running in this type of race. An eight-horse field in the Preakness, you don’t have to worry about traffic as much as a 20-horse field in the Derby. His immaturity shouldn’t be as much of a factor.”