Tenski can fly, but not in Breeders' Cup Though 5-for-6 on turf, filly deemed not quite ready

October 30, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Ann Golden spotted it right away: the beauty, the verve.

"She's a 10," Ann told her husband, Richard.

And she was Polish. So the young, untested filly became Tenski.

Now 3, an elegant, full-bodied chestnut, Tenski has lived up to her name, performing at near perfection on the racetrack while serving as a glowing endorsement of her sire, Polish Numbers.

For Richard L. Golden, that's a daily double of the highest order. He bought Tenski when she was a few months old, and he stands Polish Numbers at Northview Stallion Station. Golden is part owner and president of the stud farm near Chesapeake City in Cecil County.

On Wednesday, when preliminary entries for the seven Breeders' Cup races were released, Tenski was not among them.

That makes her one of the best horses in the country not competing at Churchill Downs on Nov. 7, racing's marquee day.

Instead, Tenski will race the next day in the $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, a Grade I race at 1 1/4 miles for fillies and mares 3 and older.

"We thought it would be asking too much of her," Golden said of the Breeders' Cup. "We can look into that next year."

Based at Belmont Park, Linda Rice trains Tenski. Although Rice has trained horses eight years for Golden, he had never, in person, seen one of them run -- until Oct. 10.

That was opening day at Keeneland, and Tenski competed in her first Grade I stakes, the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Golden, who usually watches his horses race on television at a simulcast center, showed up that day.

"I'd never had the opportunity to win a Grade I race before," Golden said. "And it was opening day at Keeneland. I didn't want to miss something like that."

Tenski made the trip worthwhile. As the 4-5 favorite, she won the 1 1/8 -mile turf race by 2 1/2 lengths, swelling her career bankroll to more than $500,000. Of 10 races, she has won seven and finished second twice.

Since beginning to race on turf this summer, Tenski is 5-for-6, including three graded-stakes conquests at Keeneland and Saratoga. Her lone turf setback was by a neck after trying to overcome the No. 11 post in a Grade II stakes at Belmont Park.

Although Rice was quoted after the Keeneland race as saying that Golden didn't usually attend his horse's races because he is superstitious, Golden said that is not so. He said he is simply too busy.

But his trip to Keeneland, in the heart of horse country, paid added dividends.

"There's no better place to showcase a good-looking horse from one of your stallions," Golden said. "Since that day, I don't know how many mares from Kentucky I've booked for Polish Numbers."

A stallion since 1992, 11-year-old Polish Numbers ranks first this year among Maryland sires in earnings by offspring: $3 million. He ranks No. 2 behind Theatrical as North America's leading sire of turf runners.

"This is the best year he's had," Golden said. "We expect his foal crop to get better every year because the mares he's breeding are getting better."

Polish Numbers stood for $12,500 this year. Next year, Golden said, he will join Two Punch at $20,000 as the state's highest-price sires.

To fill Polish Numbers' spot on the stallion roster, Northview bought the 4-year-colt Partner's Hero two months ago. The agreement was that he would race three more times for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and then retire to Northview.

At the time, Partner's Hero, a sprinter, hadn't won in more than a year. But since then, he hasn't lost. He won a stakes at Turfway Park and then one at Keeneland and, on Nov. 7, he'll make his final start in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.

He's a striking son of Danzig and Safely Home, bred in Maryland by JoAnn and David Hayden. They own 25-year-old Safely Home, who also gave birth to the champion sprinter Safely Kept.

Born at the Haydens' Dark Hollow Farm in Upperco, Partner's Hero brought $390,000 as a yearling at Saratoga.

Soon, he'll come home to Maryland to join the state's premier roster of stallions that now includes the recently retired Awad. Golden said the veteran turf campaigner has been a pleasant surprise, attracting keen interest among breeders.

And then, considering the success of Tenski, Polish Numbers and Partner's Hero, Golden said: "Everything's going as well as we could hope for at Northview."

In a word, it's a 10.

Pub Date: 10/30/98

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