Cordmaker has now won the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial twice – in 2019 and 2021
Hillwood Stable’s multiple stakes winner Cordmaker, third in each of the past two years, is headed for a third straight trip to the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) May 14 at Pimlico Race Course.
Trainer Rodney Jenkins said Monday that plans call for the gelded 6-year-old son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin to make his 29th career start in the 1 3/16-mile Special on the undercard of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2).
“We’re going to give it a shot. He’s run great the past two years,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to give it a chance to see if we can be something besides third this time.”
Bred in Maryland by the late Bob Manfuso and trainer Katy Voss, Cordmaker was beaten two necks when third behind Tenfold and You’re To Blame in the 2019 Special. Harpers First Ride was a two-length winner in 2020 when the race was delayed from mid-May to early October amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Cordmaker a half-length behind runner-up Owendale.
Last year’s Special came during a career-long winless drought for Cordmaker of 10 races spanning more than 17 months. Second or third in six of those starts, all of them in stakes, he returned to the winner’s circle with a front-running one-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Harrison E. Johnson Memorial March 13 at Laurel Park.
“It had to be good for him because it got him more confidence. He ran a really nice race,” Jenkins said. “We hope between that and the way he’s been training that he’s up to this.”
Cordmaker has breezed twice since the Johnson, both times bullet five-furlong moves at Pimlico. He went in 1:00.20 April 18, the fastest of 33 horses, and returned to go in 59.40 seconds April 27, the best of 15 horses.
“He’s doing really well. The horse is probably has never done better in his life than he’s doing now,” Jenkins said. “He seems to be interested in everything. We took him to Pimlico to work him and he worked good there, so I hope he runs as good as he’s training.”
Purchased for $150,000 as yearling in 2016, Cordmaker has nine wins, four seconds and six thirds with purse earnings of $588,640. He won the Jennings for Maryland-bred/sired horses as a 3-year-old in 2018 and the Johnson and Polynesian at Laurel and DTHA Governors Day Handicap in 2019 at Delaware Park.
The Pimlico Special for 3-year-olds and up was created in 1937 by Alfred Vanderbilt, the master of Sagamore Farm, as the first major stakes in the United States set up as an invitational, and was won by Triple Crown champion War Admiral. The following year, War Admiral was upset by Seabiscuit in what Sports Illustrated has called the “Race of the Century.”
Revived in 1988 by the late Maryland Jockey Club president Frank J. De Francis, the Special’s illustrious roster of winners also includes Triple Crown winners Whirlaway, Citation and Assault and modern-day Horses of the Year Criminal Type, Cigar, Skip Away, Mineshaft and Invasor.
A total of 16 stakes, 10 graded, worth $3.25 million in purses will be contested over Preakness weekend, May 14-15, at Pimlico, highlighted by the 146th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
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