Cordmaker lukewarm fave in Small S.

Cordmaker took the 2019 Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes. Photo by Dottie Milller.

Hillwood Stable’s Cordmaker, still going strong at the age of 6, will go after his seventh career stakes victory and fifth over his home track when he faces 10 rivals in Saturday’s $100,000 Richard W. Small at Laurel Park.

The 21st running of the 1 1/8-mile Small for 3-year-olds and up, part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, is one of three $100,000 stakes on a nine-race program, along with the City of Laurel for 3-year-olds and Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies, each sprinting seven furlongs.

Cordmaker finished second in last year’s Small behind Harpers First Ride, who eight weeks earlier captured the historic Pimlico Special (G3). Cordmaker ran third in the Special in 2019 and 2020 and fourth this year.

“When he gets things his way or things go right, he’ll be right there no matter what kind of horses he’s with, [in] Grade 1 [races] or whatever,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said. “In a race like this, if he gets a trip he’ll be tough.”

A gelded son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin bred in Maryland by the late Bob Manfuso and Laurel-based trainer Katy Voss, Cordmaker finished second, beaten a length by Captain Bombastic, in the one-mile Polynesian Sept. 18 at Laurel in his most recent start. However, he was disqualified for interfering with Alwaysmining in the stretch and placed sixth.

“He tried real hard. That was such a [strange] thing that happened,” Jenkins said. “But, he came out of it good, he had nothing on him and he was happy. He’s been going great since. Same ol’ Cordmaker. He keeps trucking along.”

Cordmaker had won two of his previous four starts, the Aug. 23 Victory Gallop at Colonial Downs and March 13 Harrison Johnson Memorial at Laurel, the latter snapping a 10-race losing streak dating back to the fall of 2019 and during which he ran second or third in six stakes.

After winning three of nine starts over his first two seasons, including his first stakes in the 2018 Jennings at Laurel, Cordmaker blossomed as a 4-year-old when he went 5-for-8 and earned $284,427 in purses. Overall he owns 10 wins and a $674,640 bankroll from 32 career starts.

“He’s a horse that it took him a long time to get him to where he is. I never really pressured him at all until he told me he wanted to be something different,” Jenkins said. “Then, when he started being something different, he’s been that way ever since. If anything, he’s doing better than ever. He’s a good horse.”

Cordmaker has had two timed five-furlong works since the Polynesian, both the fastest of the day, going 59.20 seconds Oct. 16 and 59.40 Nov. 11. Regular rider Victor Carrasco will be aboard from Post 7. Cordmaker is 4-1 on the morning line, the tepid favorite.

“He’s going into it real well. He’s very sharp,” Jenkins said. “When the weather turned cool, he got cool. He likes it.”

There is added incentive in the Small for Cordmaker, who leads the 3-year-olds and up long dirt division of the MATCH Series with 24 points, 13 more than Harpers First Ride. The total is also good for second overall behind Hello Beautiful’s 27 points.

“We’re going for the MATCH [title],” Jenkins said. “He’s ahead right now for the males. This is one of them, so we’re going to try this one, too.”