David Fiske, who since 1980 has been Winchell Thoroughbreds' racing and bloodstock manager, came out to Churchill Downs to watch Preakness third-place finisher Tenfold train Monday morning, saying, “I think he looks as good or better than he did before the Preakness. He's got a great attitude, just wandering around on a loose lead and seems happy to participate.”
Fiske worked for Verne Winchell, the late founder of the international Winchell's Donuts chain, and now works for son Ron Winchell. He recalls making the walkover from the backside to the paddock with Verne Winchell's Classic Go Go for the 1981 Kentucky Derby. Classic Go Go finished fourth behind the triumphant Pleasant Colony as a member of the mutuel field that at the time was used to clump long shots together to get the race down to 12 betting interests.
Tenfold's defeat by a total of three-quarters of a length is the closest a Winchell-owned horse has been in a Triple Crown race, Fiske said.
“We were third with Gun Runner,” he said of the 2016 Derby contender and 2017 Horse of the Year Winchell campaigned with Three Chimneys. “But he wasn't a homebred, and this horse is. And three-quarters of a length, that's pretty close.”
Tenfold, who did not race as a 2-year-old, was making only his fourth lifetime start in the Preakness. Fiske said the close finish brought the mixed emotions of pride but also “wish we'd gotten one more race into him.
“But he's kind of a big, goofy guy. And now he's got the race in him.”
“I guess it's put up or shut up time,” he continued. “I've been telling people there's no better-bred Belmont horse in the crop, so we'll see if breeding means anything.”
Tenfold is a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who won the 2007 Preakness but lost the Belmont Stakes by a head to the filly Rags to Riches, and out of a broodmare sired by Winchell's superstallion Tapit, the dad of three of the past four Belmont Stakes winners.
Tenfold had his usual gallop under exercise rider Angel Garcia.
“He's a very good horse right now,” said Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. “He put everybody on notice of that in the Preakness, and I don't think the circumstances necessarily favored him, the way the racetrack was playing and everything. I think he showed his quality. I think we're just touching the surface of his talent, who he's going to be. He is developing more personality with the added pressure, and in a very good way, just a confident sense of direction, getting stronger, eats a little more aggressively. I think he's going to be a very exciting horse down the road, as well as 12 days from now.
“This is a horse who has raced four times. Every time you lay your eyes on him, he's a little stronger. I love the direction it's going.”
Ricardo Santana Jr. will be aboard in the Belmont.
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