Jenkins giving Cordmaker chance “to race with the big boys” in Special
Cordmaker took the Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes. Photo by Dottie Milller.
Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes program at Pimlico will also feature the $300,000, Grade 3 Pimlico Special at 1 ¼ miles. While there are some high-profile national trainers like Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, and Mark Casse slated to saddle horses in the longstanding fixture, many locals will be intrigued by a late-developing four-year-old who is just coming into his own.
After posting wins in three of his last four starts, Cordmaker gets his chance to “run with the big dawgs” in the supporting feature.
Cordmaker, a Curlin gelding from the Polish Numbers mare Tanca, showed he had ability right from the start when he closed with a rush to be third, beaten less than a length, in his career debut going five furlongs. Yet while his record at two and three was decent enough with three wins and a pair of seconds while racing against optional allowance, allowance and stakes company, it has been just over the past few months after turning four that Cordmaker finally seemed to put it all together.
He earned his first stakes win against state-bred rivals in the Jennings at Laurel in late December. Then he finished less than five lengths back of the winner in the seven-furlong, Grade 3 General George Stakes after being squeezed back early in that race and forced to go nine-wide with his late rally.
From there, Cordmaker has posted dominant wins at 1 ⅛ miles in the $100,000 Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes and at seven furlongs against allowance rivals in a race that featured a six-furlong clocking of 1:09.2 and a final time of 1:21.4.
Trainer Rodney Jenkins thinks the long striding Maryland-bred is just now putting it all together.
“This horse has always shown us he had some talent and ability, right from the very beginning, but he was just slow to really learn how to focus and get involved. Finally late last year he started to come around, and since we brought him back in February he’s just turned the page and seems to have it all together now,” Jenkins explained. “He’s always been a good work horse, but I remember watching him work one morning not long ago and thought to myself, ‘Wow this is a totally different horse than before, this horse is really dialed in.’”
Victor Carrasco has been aboard Cordmaker in his last two starts. Jenkins said Cordmaker and Carrasco have a good bond and said he was happy to have him back on his star for this biggest career challenge.
“Victor does a great job,” the horseman said. “He knows Cordmaker now and understands him and he’s also been impressed with way he’s come around lately.”
Cordmaker’s mentor said his runner has enough tactical speed to be in a striking position early in the Special and coming off his last at seven furlongs, he wouldn’t be surprise to see him laying a bit closer to the pace than normal. But he still said he was looking for a realistic pace so his star would have something to run at down the Pimlico stretch.
“He’s the kind of horse that likes to have the race come to him. He has no problem waiting ‘til the time is right, and Victor knows that, as well. I would hope we’ll be hiding just off the pace and have a clear shot to run at the leaders when the time is right,” Jenkins said.
Cordmaker is 12-1 on the morning line, but in a race with a tepid 9-2 morning line favorite in Rally Cry, Jenkins figures there’s no time like the present.
“I know this is a tough bunch of horses, and it’ll be the stiffest test of Cordmaker’s, career but we feel he deserves a chance to run with top flight competition,” Jenkins said. “He’s so good right now, there’ll never be a better time to see if he’s good enough to race with the big boys.”