It doesn't take more than a quick glance at Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Tenfold to see that time has and will continue to be the colt's best friend.
With legs for days, it is apparent why the son of Curlin didn't debut until February at Oaklawn Park. That growthy frame of his needed a proper time allotment in order to get a handle on itself and, having conditioned both of the youngster's parents, trainer Steve Asmussen figured there would be good days ahead once his charge's mental and physical got on the same page.
"Maybe just emotionally (I) really like the horse because of that connection and his personality, but I think he has a ton of talent," the Hall of Famer said. "And he's going to have very good races in his future. I'm just hoping Saturday is what we're talking about and not a year from now."
Tenfold will get one heck of a litmus test this weekend to determine where he currently stands on the progress chart. The dark bay colt put in the standard week-of exercise the Asmussen barn is known for, covering an easy half-mile in :49 2/5 at Churchill Downs May 14 in preparation for his expected start in the Preakness Stakes (G1) May 19 at Pimlico Race Course.
With Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Justify continuing to look a picture in his preparations for the middle leg of the Triple Crown and champion Good Magic getting the green light to try to better his runner-up effort from the first Saturday in May, Tenfold is diving into deep waters in what will be just his fourth start and second graded stakes effort.
Unraced as a juvenile, Tenfold debuted in Arkansas Feb. 9, when he won by 5 3/4 lengths in gate-to-wire fashion going 1 1/16 miles. His second start forced him to dig a bit more, and he prevailed by a neck March 18 in an allowance/optional claiming race after he stalked the pace. His fifth-place finish in the April 14 Arkansas Derby (G1) provided an education for the colt, as to what happens when faced with some in-race adversity.
"He put in a really nice work (May 7 going five furlongs in 1:00 1/5) and hopefully he'll move up considerably from the experience of the Arkansas Derby," Asmussen said. "He had two races that went completely his way (his first two starts). I was disappointed in his run at Arkansas, but I think that he can move forward from it. Where exactly that puts him with this 3-year-old group has yet to be determined, but a very good measuring stick will be this Saturday."
Out of the Tapit mare Temptress, Tenfold will attempt to give Asmussen his third Preakness victory. His first classic triumph came in 2007, when he got Curlin's big-bodied self to throw down an effort that hindsight revealed to be just a taste of what the future Hall of Famer was capable of.
Tenfold is long way from being his father's son in that respect, but if he emulates his sire's pattern of progression this time of year, Asmussen wouldn't be all that stunned.
"We've been fortunate to have his sire, as well as his dam, and both of them were growthy horses who got better with time," the trainer said. "You know, (Tenfold) is his own horse, but there is a lot to him. He has a lot of talent, but he is still somewhat young."