Tenfold Odds to Win the 2018 Preakness Stakes with Picks and Predictions
If Justify can do it then maybe Tenfold can, too. Justify won a Triple Crown race in his first try, and he had run just three times before and never as a two-year-old. Now Tenfold is heading to the Preakness with just three races of experience in a career that only started in February. Can lightning strike twice? The colt is very well bred, but there is a glaring difference between this colt and the Derby winner. Justify is an incredible freak who has yet to take a single step wrong. Tenfold was a non-threatening fifth last time out behind a horse that was a disastrous 19th in the Derby. Justify just had to keep doing what he was doing. This horse has to take such a massive step forward that it's almost inconceivable. But at least there are a few things to like about him.
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Last race: That last race we talk about in the introduction was the Arkansas Derby. He broke fine, had room to move throughout, was in fine position moving three wide while in third on the final turn, and was poised to make a move and be a part of the action. And then he just sputtered. He had nothing left. Or maybe he just didn't have the fight in him he needed or something bothered him. Whatever the reason, when his jockey - Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza - asked him to move, he declined. He wound up fifth, and it was an ugly effort all-round. Second in that race was Quip, who he will face again here at the Preakness.
Prior experience: This won't take long. He broke his maiden in his first try at Oaklawn in early February at a mile and a sixteenth. He led throughout while setting honest-but-not-blazing fractions, and he widened his lead convincingly in the stretch to win by almost six lengths. The way he handled that means we can't blame the poor Arkansas derby showing, in a race just a sixteenth of a mile longer, on distance concerns. Heck, given his breeding there should be no distance concerns. He came back just over a month later at Oaklawn in an allowance at the same distance as his debut. This time he stalked a pace that was only slightly faster than his first race instead of setting the pace himself, and then he dueled down the stretch to win by a neck. The race showed some heart, and it was good for him to encounter some adversity, but it wasn't a race that jumped off the screen and shouted greatness. He has been working at Churchill Downs since the Arkansas Derby, and again his efforts there have been okay but not staggering by any means.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen won the 8,000th race of his career on the Kentucky Derby undercard this year - and he's only 52, so there are plenty of wins still to come if he wants them. No living trainer has won more races, and only one, Dae Baird, has ever won more. He doesn't just beat up on weaklings in claiming races, either - only Todd Pletcher has higher career earnings. Asmussen has won the Preakness twice. In 2007 he came out on top with the great Curlin, who is Tenfold's daddy. And two years later he won again with the great filly Rachel Alexandra, who he had only taken over the training duties of less than two weeks earlier after her Kentucky Oaks win and subsequent sale. She was Horse of the Year that year, as was Curlin in 2007 and 2008. Asmussen also won the Belmont in 2016 with Creator, a son of Tapit, who is the damsire of Tenfold. This colt is in good hands.
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. had the mount for the first two starts with the colt, but Asmussen picked up Victor Espinoza for the Arkansas Derby - because when you can get a Triple Crown winner, you do. It didn't work great, so Santana is back on board for the Preakness. Santana rides far more horses for Asmussen than anyone else and has for a long while now. He is no stranger to getting bumped off the best of the horses, though - he had ridden Creator throughout his career, including an Arkansas Derby win and a disappointing Kentucky Derby, but was bumped in favor of Irad Ortiz Jr. for the Belmont and the horse's last two -- largely ugly -- starts. I would be lying if I said that Santana was my favorite jockey or the best guy to have on a horse in a big race. He's capable enough, though, and he has done fine with this colt.
Breeding: As I said earlier, this is a son of Curlin out of a Tapit mare. That is some darned fine breeding. Curlin won the Preakness and most of the top races for older horses that matter after that. He's been a very strong sire, too. His offspring include Preakness winner Exaggerator and Belmont champ Palace Malice, and his son Good Magic was a solid second in the Derby this year and will be the second favorite in the Preakness. Tapit has been the leading sire three of the last four years and has sired three of the last four Belmont winners. You would be hard pressed to pack more stamina and class into a modern pedigree.
Odds: Bovada has Tenfold at +2500 to win the Preakness, which has him tied with Lone Sailor as the longest shot on the board among likely entrants. It would be very tough to argue that that is unfair.
Can Tenfold Win the 2018 Preakness?: Probably not. I love the breeding and respect Asmussen, but the horse is raw, I haven't loved how he has trained, I don't trust Santana, and the colt wasn't at all inspiring the one time he raced top horses.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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