Tenfold Odds to Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes with Picks and Predictions
Steve Asmussen didn't have this lightly-raced colt rolling in time to qualify him for the Kentucky Derby, so he aimed for the Preakness instead. And it went as well as he could realistically have hoped - third-place pays nicely, and the horse earned some respect. So now the colt makes just his fifth career start in the longest race there is for three-year-olds. He's got the breeding for it, and he has some momentum coming into the race. So, how much can he build on that last outing? Can Tenfold shock the world in the Belmont Stakes?
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Last race: In the Preakness Tenfold started in gate 6 and was in sixth place out of that gate. He settled into that area of the field before making a nice four-wide move around the turn. He was moving nicely into the stretch and had a good charge. He was beaten by Bravazo but caught Good Magic to stay in third. It wasn't the most spectacular effort ever by any means, but it was a good, professional effort by a raw horse who was seeing an off track for the first time. I liked it just fine. And it improved my view of the horse somewhat, though I'm not yet boxing him and Justify atop the Belmont or anything.
Prior experience: The horse had run just three times prior to the Preakness, continuing this year's ongoing trend of very lightly-raced horses in Triple Crown races. Prior to the Preakness he had never raced anywhere other than Oaklawn Park, though he had been training at Churchill Downs between his last race and the Preakness and again leading up to this race. He broke his maiden in the first ask at Oaklawn, wiring the field in a mile and a sixteenth contest and pulling away emphatically at the end to win by almost six lengths. Next he jumped up to an allowance race a month later, where he stalked the pace instead of setting it, and then got up for a narrow win. It wasn't as impressive as the debut win, but the company was tougher, and it was still solid. Logically, he next jumped up to stakes company to try the Arkansas Derby, one of the major Kentucky Derby prep races. He probably wasn't quite ready. It was a tough field, with horses like Magnum Moon, Solomini and Quip, and the colt never quite got comfortable. He was third most of the way around, but when things heated up in the stretch he had nothing left to give, and he faded to fifth.
Trainer: Asmussen, who is still only 52, recorded his 8,000th career win on Derby weekend. It's a truly incredible feat. Only one trainer has ever trained more winners, and Asmussen still has a long time to not only get the 1,400 more wins he needs to break the record but to put the total far out of reach of anyone else. For reference, mega-trainer Todd Pletcher is only two years younger than Asmussen, and he trails him by more than 3,500 wins. Asmussen doesn't just win claiming races, either. He has won the Preakness twice with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, and he won the Belmont in 2016 with Creator. He is a very capable trainer - obviously.
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. He has been aboard for all of the colt's races except for the Arkansas Derby. Victor Espinoza got the nod there, and he didn't have a great day. Santana rides a lot for Asmussen, though it isn't always a smooth relationship - this isn't the first time that he has been bumped off a big colt in a key race. He also rode Creator to a win in the Arkansas Derby but was replaced for the Belmont by Irad Ortiz Jr. Despite those issues, Santana is a solid jockey who has his share of big race wins, though he has not yet won a Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup race. Frankly, I think Asmussen is pretty much right about Santana - he's a good type of guy to be on most horses most of the time, but in the biggest of spots you can probably do better.
Breeding: I am a total sucker for this breeding. Tenfold's sire is the great Curlin, who Asmussen trained to wins in the world's best races, including the Preakness. As a stud he has sired Preakness winner Exaggerator and Belmont winner Exaggerator, and his son Irish War Cry was second in the Belmont last year. There is good blood from that side. And Tenfold's damsire is Tapit, the son of Belmont winner A.P. Indy and close descendant of Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat, who has sired three of the last four Belmont winners, including Asmussen's Creator. This is a horse bred for this race.
Odds: Tenfold is the current fifth choice to win the race at Bovada at +1000.
Can Tenfold Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes?: Sure. His breeding is ideal, he is coming off a strong race, and his trainer has won this race recently. Like every horse in the field not named Justify, he'll need some help, though. His ideal trip is to sit just off the ace, patiently waiting until later when he can make a move. If Justify is on the lead, though, then Tenfold will need the favorite to falter or he isn't going to be able to catch him. Either way, he is a factor in the exotics for sure.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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