By TERESA GENARO
If the $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) were a middle school class, there’d be a lot of boys in detention this afternoon.
“Tenfold, just what did you think you were doing there at the end, jumping to the right?”
“Sporting Chance, are you OK? Where were you going? Why didn’t you stay with the other kids?
“Vino Rosso! You were spectacular at the end! Maybe we should see a little more of that effort early on?”
Flameaway is the kid that tried so, so hard but just couldn’t get it done, and Reride, also trained by Steve Asmussen, is the sibling that just can’t get out of his brother’s shadow.
After one of the more bizarrely run races in recent memory, Asmussen at times sounded a little like a frustrated teacher, even though his Tenfold finally broke through and got his first graded stakes win.
“He’s very young,” the trainer said in the winner’s circle. “He doesn’t know how good he is, and he needs to start taking it seriously and make the most of it.”
One can imagine him at the front of the classroom, pointing a stern finger at the pupil that’s not quite living up to his potential.
Tenfold took the early lead in the five-horse Jim Dandy, running with Flameaway and taking turns heading the field. He got in front for good heading into the far turn, and then chaos erupted.
Vino Rosso, who had been running last by a dozen or more lengths, began to make up ground. Sporting Chance blew the final turn and was pulled up by Luis Saez. Tenfold looked like he might be home free, even as Flameaway surged up on the inside, and then Tenfold took a step to the right, appearing that he might snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. managed to get his attention again, though, and Tenfold made a final push to win by three-quarters of a length.
Flameaway was second, while Vino Rosso improbably got up for third, a head behind Flameaway, beaten a length for the whole thing. Reride was fourth.
“We’ve seen this performance before,” said Mike Repole, who owns Vino Rossi with St. Elias Stable. “He has done it at Tampa a couple of times. He made up probably 10 lengths in less than a quarter-mile, and he put his head down and galloped out in front. The biggest key now, if we decide to go to the Travers (G1), is to get him to run 100 percent of the race and not 50 percent of the race.”
Todd Pletcher isn’t the only trainer who will have some work to do between now and the Travers on August 25; despite the win, Asmussen knows he’s got to get his horse to focus.
“Ricardo said Tenfold got a view of the screen in the infield, and he couldn’t get him to stop looking at it,” Asmussen said.
“He was watching the TV and he got a little scared,” Santana said, “but he passed the wire first. We got lucky. Today he showed his class.”
Bred and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Tenfold is by Curlin and out of the Tapit mare Temptress. A late March foal, he didn’t start racing until February of this year because he hasn’t been able to get his act together.
“He’s got a very young attitude,” Asmussen said. “This is a very big win for him. For him to (run greenly) today is obviously concerning. I’m glad he still won the race, but we know he can do better and we have to work to do.”
The kids in Saratoga still have a little more than a month of summer vacation, but for these young Thoroughbreds, it’s already back to school.