Tenpins' Connections Hope for Favorable Call

(from Keeneland notes)
Joseph Vitello's Tenpins worked a strong six furlongs Sunday at Churchill Downs under regular jockey Robby Albarado, but his status for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) on Oct. 25 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita remains uncertain.

Tenpins breezed six furlongs in 1:12.80 over a "fast" track and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.80. The work was easily the fastest of four at the distance.

The Michigan-bred son of Smart Strike won the the Iselin Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Monmouth Park and the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup (gr. III) and was runner-up to Perfect Drift in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II).

"I thought it was one of his better works," Albarado said. "He's stronger now and he's a lot more focused. I'm hoping they run him in the Breeders' Cup."

The work added confidence for trainer Don Winfree that Tenpins is ready for a big effort in the Breeders' Cup Classic if Vitello decides to pre-enter the 4-year-old colt on Tuesday. But Winfree says Vitello, who also bredTenpins, has not made a final decision.

"We'll see what the guy that pays the bills on him has to say," said Winfree. "I've already pleaded my case. I'm definitely pushing to go. But it's his money and his horse, so he's going to make the call."

Winfree said Tenpins came out of the work well and a post-race endoscopic examination revealed no problems.

"He's perfect," he said. "There's no physical reason for him not to go."

Also hoping that Vitello will decide to run Tenpins in the Breeders' Cup Classic is Albarado, who has ridden the colt in all but two of his ten starts over the past two years. Albarado had been scheduled to ride leading "Horse of the Year" candidate Mineshaft in the Classic, but that colt was retired from racing last week.

"He has tactical speed, so he's going to be forwardly placed regardless and Santa Anita's a speed-favoring track," Albarado said. "Maybe he can bounce out there on the lead and get comfortable and you never know what can happen. The race has fallen apart a bit with Mineshaft, Candy Ride and a bunch of those other horses out, and if Perfect Drift would happen to slip anywhere that puts Tenpins right there in front turning for home and you never know what can happen."

Tenpins finished 1 ¾-lengths behind Perfect Drift in the mile and a quarter Hawthorne Gold Cup in his most recent start on Sept. 28. That was just the third start of the season for Tenpins and Albarado believes he should improve off that outing.

"I think he got a little tired that race," said Albarado. "There's a deep track there and I think he was blowing pretty good after the race and he put in some effort. Donnie is doing a great job with him. He's as sound as he's probably ever been right now. I think the opportunity is here to run a sound horse and a good horse in the biggest race of the year. I think he (Vitello) ought to take that chance."

Tenpins has a record of 2-1-0 in his three races this year and has a career mark of 9-1-2 in 14 races. He has earned $1,088,689.