Above The Fold

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Steve Asmussen walked out of the Saratoga Room, 12 horses galloped past in the finale and New York State of Mind was cuing up. Asmussen talked about Tenfold, his talent, his looks and the inexplicable antics that nearly threw away the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga Race Course Saturday. It took Asmussen awhile, but he eventually found the right words to describe Tenfold’s mind frame. 

“He just makes little mistakes that are not a big deal to him and a big deal to us.”

Then he laughed. 

Asmussen wasn’t laughing 35 minutes earlier when Tenfold veered to the right like he had missed the final exit ramp on the freeway, squandering a lead he earned by putting away pacesetter Flameaway through the stretch of the 9-furlong stakes. Ricardo Santana Jr. teetered for a moment but kept riding the son of Tapit who crossed the wire three quarters of a length in front of Flameaway on the rail and Vino Rosso in between horses.

“That’s a step on the way, he’s going to be, oh, a beautiful older horse, he’s got a frame and a girth, with that shoulder, he’s going to be gorgeous, there hasn’t been a pimple on him,” Asmussen said, jolting left about as fast as Tenfold did and knocking on the wooden top of a bussing station. “Who knows when you get down the road and everybody sorts out, how good he’ll be. It’ll come together, he’s got a great disposition, he’ll lay down all day, he’s easy on himself, he’s not angry, he doesn’t fret, he’ll eat everything tonight and feel good tomorrow.”

Tenfold broke well from post 2 in the five-horse field but in a matter of strides, slid back between Flameaway, going from the rail, and stablemate Reride, hovering to his outside. The slot stayed open and Santana rousted Tenfold to take it, establishing a stalking position in second as Reride found a spot in third. Sporting Chance stayed wide in fourth as Vino Rosso angled to the rail but was quickly outpaced, falling nearly 10 lengths off the pace. Flameaway led Tenfold by a neck after a quarter-mile in :23.90 and led him by three quarters of a length after a half in :47.16. Reride and Sporting Chance tried to stay in their wake while John Velazquez slapped a non-committal Vino Rosso as a two-horse race began to brew on the lead. 

Midway on the turn, Santana checked under his right shoulder, then under his left shoulder and allowed Tenfold to lengthen his stride, collaring Flameway and turning into the stretch with the race at his mercy. Flameaway battled on from the rail, Reride stayed but didn’t quicken, Sporting Chance blew the turn and Velazquez continued to implore Vino Rosso for a spark. 

To read the rest of the Jim Dandy recap, download Sunday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by EasyFix Stable Solutions