Joseph Vitello's Tenpins will make a belated start on his 2003 campaign in the $350,000-added Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup (gr. III) on July 12.
Trainer Don Winfree selected that 1 1/16-mile race at Iowa's Prairie Meadows after the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike displayed his readiness to run in a one-mile workout on Friday at Churchill Downs. The Michigan-bred Tenpins covered the distance over a "fast" track in 1:38.60 with regular jockey Robby Albarado in the irons.
The decision to ship to Iowa for the Cornhusker was made in a telephone discussion with Vitello after the work, which was the only move of the day at the distance.
"That was just what I was looking for," said Winfree. "I'm ready for him to run. When they get good it's time to run, because if you fool around too long something's going to go wrong."
Albarado, who has ridden Tenpins in eight of his 11 starts, was impressed with the effort and believes that Tenpins is ready to go.
"He's grown up a lot and he's getting bigger and stronger," said Albarado. "It's scary, because if he gets any better than he was, he'll be something. I thought he was a superhorse and he showed it."
Tenpins won the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II), the Fayette Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland, and the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico last year. During that 4-year-old season he also finished third to Godolphin's Street Cry in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) and closed out the year with a fourth-place finish behind Amerman Racing's Lido Palace in the Clark Handicap (gr. II), both at Churchill Downs. In both races of those races, Tenpins flashed early speed, dropped back sharply on the far turn, and then rallied strongly in the historic track's long homestretch.
"His worst races were here at Churchill Downs for some reason," said Albarado. "Maybe he's trained here too often and he's gotten wise, I don't know what it is."
Tenpins suffered a bruised foot in the Clark Handicap that was slow to heal, which prompted Winfree to adjust a schedule that had called for the horse to race over the winter at the Fair Grounds and to take another shot at the Stephen Foster. Now that Tenpins is ready to make his long awaited return, Albarado is eager to climb back in the saddle in a race situation.
"He's such a cool horse to ride," he said. "He's fast enough to put you in the race or he can come from off the pace."
Tenpins has a career record of 7-0-2 in 11 races and has earned $608,689. He won 5-of-7 races during last year's campaign at four.