#8: the sixth annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies

Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies, where we celebrate the twelve most memorable races from Curlin’s progeny through 2019. Among all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones to which my mind keeps wandering back.

#12: Curlina Curlina Finds the Wire
#11: A Pleasant Surprise, Volgograd
#10 Ajaaweed Emerges as a Juvenile to Watch
#9 Lady Apple Trains On

#8 Tenfold and Cordmaker Stretch Out

There aren’t enough races at the Classic Distance anymore, even in the handicap division, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the Pimlico Special (G3) stretch out to a mile and a quarter.

Though, rest the emphasis on surprise. The Special wasn’t a short race to begin with; it had been a mile and three sixteenths, just like the Preakness (G1). It had been a mile and three sixteenths dating all the way back to its beginning in 1937, when War Admiral beat Masked General by a length and a half. It had been a mile and three sixteenths for the Seabiscuit-War Admiral match race, for Whirlaway and Assault and Citation, for Devil His Due and Cigar and Invasor. It has been a mile and three sixteenths for another son of Curlin, Irish War Cry, who seized the lead and gave One Liner, Untrapped, and the rest no chance in 2018.

Thirteen horses lined up for the first Pimlico Special at a mile and a quarter. That included two four-year-old sons of Curlin, Tenfold (Temptress, by Tapit) and Cordmaker (Tanca, by Polish Numbers).

Though Cordmaker was Maryland-bred, he had never run at Pimlico before. Every one of his prior starts had come at Laurel Park, and all but two had come at one turn. His first route try, on the grass, suggested he didn’t like that footing much; his previous two-turn dirt try was more promising, a length and a half triumph in the nine-furlong Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes. That race had come two starts before the Pimlico Special, and he had piled on another allowance victory at seven furlongs since that race. Form was no question for Cordmaker, though the Pimlico Special would be Cordmaker’s first try at the Classic distance and only his second graded stakes attempt.

Tenfold, however, came into the Pimlico Special with a good day at Old Hilltop behind him already. A year earlier, though he couldn’t quite topple eventual Triple Crown winner Justify in a foggy, sloppy Preakness, he fought for a mighty third, three quarters of a length short. He went on to win the Jim Dandy (G2) that summer, though with two off-the-board finishes to begin his four-year-old year, Tenfold was hoping the move to Pimlico and the step up in trip would bring him back to his best.

Tenfold and Cordmaker contest the 2019 Pimlico Special (G3).

From the start Flameaway and Flying the Flag locked in battle. Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. dropped Tenfold to the rail as soon as he could, though was happy to let him settled near the rear of the field while the speed duel took its toll. Cordmaker looked a coiled spring in the opening furlongs, on the stretch out from a sprint, but rider Victor Carrasco was able to set him midfield between horses, not losing too much ground and not blowing too much energy over a longer trip than he had ever traversed.

Into the far turn, as the early pouncers began to make their runs, Tenfold continued near the rear, inside, lying in wait. Things looked less cozy for Cordmaker, who was losing ground through the field while coming under a ride. Passing the three eighths, Tenfold was beginning to make his run; he had passed Cordmaker, who was all out near the rear, looking an unlikely contender for any late-race photographs.

The pace horses began to back up in upper stretch after setting such fast fractions, and Tenfold took full advantage. He had aim on the leading flight at the three sixteenths, ready to split as soon as there was a horse-sized gap. Just past the quarter pole, Tenfold was in front, responding well to what Santana was asking him.

Meanwhile, coming into the lane, Carrasco had swung Cordmaker to the outside. He put Cordmaker to a drive near the three sixteenths mark, and soon it became clear that Cordmaker was just playing possum through the second turn. He gained outside the length of the stretch, closing the gap jump by jump, just outside of the also-rallying You’re To Blame.

Tenfold hit the wire just in time: a neck in front of You’re to Blame, with Cordmaker another neck behind.

Since then, Tenfold has yet to return to those heights. In five starts since the Pimlico Special, all in stakes company, his best finishes have been a pair of fourths. One was a well-beaten one behind Higher Power in the Pacific Classic (G1) in August. The other came just two days ago, in the Tenacious Stakes, though that was as encouraging a start as Tenfold has had since the Pimlico Special: he was gaining late, and beaten only three quarters of a length by Pioneer Spirit.

Cordmaker has won three of four since the Pimlico Special, with his only defeat being a fifth-place run in the Suburban (G2) in June. He has successfully flipped between short and long distances, winning the Polynesian Stakes at seven furlongs at Laurel, an allowance at a mile and seventy yards at Delaware, and most recently the DTHA Governors’ Day Handicap over that same course and distance.

Hopefully both Tenfold and Cordmaker remain healthy and happy, and can return for a rematch next spring at Pimlico!

Preakness Week Picks and Ponderings

This is Preakness Week, and over at Picks and Ponderings, I look at the big races!

Friday’s card is anchored by the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for three-year-old fillies.  I preview that race horse-by-horse, and offer selections in the stakes races all day long.  Saturday is the Preakness (G1), which I also delve into horse-by-horse, and present my stakes selections all day long.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Forbes.com: Preakness Betting Guide

Before each of the Triple Crown races Forbes.com publishes a betting guide, and tomorrow’s Preakness is no different.  Teresa Genaro gathers a group of handicappers to discuss the race from multiple perspectives, and

Team TTE is well represented, as Barbara Bowley and I put our heads together for a section of it.  Make sure to read it, and see what we have to say about making some money playing tomorrow’s Preakness!

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Preakness Preview

The Preakness Stakes is coming up this Saturday.  And, over at Picks and Ponderings, Paul Mazur and I have taken a deep dive into the ten horses who will vie for Classic glory in Baltimore.

In addition, both of us have handicapped all the stakes races on the loaded undercard.  Take a look at who we like — and if you’ve got any questions, tweet us or post a comment, because we’d love to talk.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read our preview of the Preakness and our Saturday stakes picks, and let us know your thoughts!

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Preview

We head into Preakness Week.  Entries for the second jewel of the Triple Crown will not be drawn until Wednesday, but we already know the contenders for Friday’s stakes-laden card at Pimlico.  Over at Picks and Ponderings, I dive into the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the feature.  In addition, both Paul Mazur and I will share our selections for the stakes on Friday’s Pimlico card.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Black-Eyed Susan, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

a special horse, and a special win

Every time I think Ben’s Cat can’t do anything more awesome, I am proven wrong.

Ben’s Cat is not one of those horses who typically wins by a huge margin.  The 2014 Fabulous Strike Handicap, which he won by 3 1/4 lengths, was a bit of an anomaly.  His winning margins are more typically a neck, half a length…he makes everyone sweat, but he wins.  He gets there.  His record of 31 wins in 54 lifetimes starts going into today was enough of a testament to that.

Today, with a sixteenth to go, it didn’t look like Ben’s Cat was going to get there.

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Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Dixie Stakes Preview

Push comes to shove, Nyquist looks tough to beat in the Preakness.  However, the race before the Preakness is the Dixie Stakes (GII), and this grass race for older horses looks like a far more wide-open affair.

This year’s edition of the Dixie drew a field of thirteen runners, many of whom have a legitimate shot.  I sift through the race, and find some solid contenders who will be very nice prices.

Also, as Paul Mazur and I continue to handicap Saturday’s stakes races, we will have a grid with selections for all of those races, available on this page as well.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Dixie Stakes, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: Preakness Stakes Preview

The Preakness Stakes was drawn today.  Over at Picks and Ponderings, Paul Mazur and I delve into the race, analyse each horse, and present our selections.

Paul and I see the race setting up a little bit differently…though there are some horses in whom we both see the merit, there are others on whom we don’t quite see eye-to-eye.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read our preview of the Preakness Stakes, and let us know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Preview

It’s beginning to look a lot like Preakness Week, with Friday’s stakes-laden card at Pimlico already drawn.

Headlining that card is the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for three-year-old fillies.  The race drew an intriguing field of fourteen.  That includes a pair of returners from the Oaks, some familiar faces from the prep season, and some newer faces.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Black-Eyed Susan day stakes analysis

Over at Picks and Ponderings, both Paul Mazur and I shared our selections for the stakes races on the Black-Eyed Susan day card.  He wrote full analysis of the Black-Eyed Susan (GII), and then we have a grid with our top three selections and our longshot for each of the seven stakes.  Since picks alone are a bit less useful than having the analysis behind those selections, I provide the thoughts behind each of my selections here.

All races discussed here will take place Friday, May 15 at Pimlico Race Course.

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three more winners by Curlin!

Over the last week and a half, three Curlin babies have joined the ranks of the winners.

Curalina (Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight last summer at Saratoga.  Despite some trouble in her trip and some issues switching leads, she still finished a clear second behind High Dollar Woman.  Behind her finished Paulassilverlining, now a graded stakes winner, as well as graded stakes placed Skipalute.  She entered the Spinaway (GI), but was scratched.  The suggestion at the time was that she would race in a maiden special weight at Belmont that fall, but instead she went on the shelf for the winter.  The three-year-old filly finally resurfaced on March 28, in a seven-furlong maiden special for three-year-old fillies at Gulfstream.

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Preakness weekend stakes recap

This was an exciting weekend of racing, headlined by an exciting running of the Preakness Stakes.  California Chrome kept his Triple Crown dreams alive, and even more excitingly for this Curlin-loving corner of the Internet, Ride On Curlin ran a big race!  The hard-knocking colt finished a clear second, gaining on Chrome late.

All of the contests I played this weekend focused on Black-Eyed Susan day and Preakness day at Pimlico; it added up to nine of the stakes races over the two days.  Some of the races didn’t go as well as I hoped, and I did have a few second place finishes (looking at you, Class Leader, for getting your head in front of Life In Shambles just in time!), but all in all this wasn’t the handicapping debacle that Derby weekend was for me.  Onward and upward, right?

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Preakness day picks!

Tomorrow, we move into the second leg of the Triple Crown.  It’s a smaller field than the Derby: ten horses instead of the nineteen who headed postward in Louisville two weeks ago.  It is also full of new shooters.  In addition to Derby winner California Chrome, only two other horses decided to wheel back in two weeks to take a crack at the Preakness: Ride On Curlin and General a Rod, two horses who have been covered extensively at Blinkers Off since January due to their presence in my Fantasy Stable.  The rest of the field are new shooters, including Illinois Derby winner Dynamic Impact as well as Private Terms hero Kid Cruz.

In addition to the Preakness, I attacked a few more races on the Pimlico card as well.  Between the races for the Danonymous Racing contest and the Public Handicapper contest, there are a total of five races that I handicapped for these contests.

Let’s dive into the races and see how they may unfold!

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