Cordmaker (Maryland Jockey Club)
By David Joseph – Maryland Jockey Club
7YO Fan Favorite Less than $11,000 Shy of Milestone After 36 Starts
LAUREL, Md.— Some 259 days since he last raced, and nearly two weeks after he was last entered, Hillwood Stable’s fan favorite Cordmaker will make his long-awaited return with the chance to become a millionaire in Friday’s feature at Laurel Park.
It will be the first start for the 7-year-old gelding, bred in Maryland by trainer Katy Voss and the late Bob Manfuso, since extending his win streak to four races with a 10th career stakes victory and first in graded company in the Feb. 19 General George (G3) at Laurel.
“It’s a big day,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said. “He’s doing really well.”
Jenkins entered Cordmaker in the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic Oct. 22 but, not being Maryland-sired, he was excluded from the field. He is the 7-5 program favorite in Friday’s Race 8, an optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the main track.
“He’s ready to go,” Jenkins said. “He’ll be a little keen, I’d guess. Nothing bad, though. He’ll be all right. He’s a cool old horse. He’s awful nice to be around.”
Friday will be the 37th-lifetime start for Cordmaker but first in nearly two years without jockey Victor Carrasco, who was injured in a spill on the eve of Maryland Million. Carrasco has been aboard for 11 straight races and has won 11 times in 27 tries together, nine of them stakes victories, including the General George.
Jenkins, a member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, said it’s common for horses to get accustomed to a certain rider over time, particularly when their racing career spans several years.
“They sure do,” the 78-year-old Jenkins said. “You can tell the difference, with Victor and that horse, especially. But, then again, I’ve seen other people ride him and he’s done all right for them, too. We’ll see.”
Richard Monterrey will become just the sixth jockey to ride Cordmaker during his career. Steve ‘Cowboy’ Hamilton and Alex Cintron both won, and Xavier Perez was the last to ride before Carrasco’s streak, finishing third in the December 2018 Jennings at Laurel. Angel Cruz also rode in a July 2020 allowance, finishing fifth.
“He’s Victor’s horse,” Jenkins said, “[but Monterrey] rides good. It won’t be much difference. That’s the reason that I ride him. He does remind me of Victor in a lot of ways. It’s not changing much when you switch to him.”
Cordmaker drew Post 7 in a field of eight that includes The Poser, third in the Maryland Million Classic the past two years; multiple stakes winner Local Motive; multiple stakes-placed Plot the Dots, racing first off the claim for trainer Norman ‘Lynn’ Cash; American d’Oro, a 9 ¼-length winner last out Oct. 13 at Laurel; Famished, most recently fourth in Laurel’s Oct. 1 Challedon; Treasure Trove and the entry of Benandjoe and Excellorator.
“I didn’t really look through it too much. We’ll just see where we’re at tomorrow,” Jenkins said. “I’m not going to scratch him no matter what happens. We’ll see.”
With a purse of $62,000, finishing first or second Friday would push Cordmaker – sitting at $989,640 – over the $1 million mark in career earnings. Jenkins would love to reach the milestone on his home track, particularly considering the following he has gained throughout the Mid-Atlantic over the years.
“It makes me feel good for the owners and me, and of course I feel good for the horse,” Jenkins said. “It’s amazing how much horses change their attitudes when they know the people like them.”
Cordmaker had raced in 17 of 20 months dating back to the summer of 2020 before his most recent down time, spent at Dark Hollow Farm in Upperco, Md. His longest stretch between starts is 280 days from September 2019 to July 2020, when he was fifth in a one-mile allowance. That absence was complicated by a pause in racing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jenkins and Hillwood’s Ellen Charles have yet to decide whether Cordmaker will return as an 8-year-old in 2023. Ultimately, the decision will be left up to the horse.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Jenkins said. “Tell you the truth, I let him call the shots. He’s older than me.”
Post time for Friday’s nine-race card is 12:15 p.m. Laurel will open its doors at 11 a.m. and offer advance wagering on Saturday’s entire 12-race Breeders’ Cup card from Keeneland.
Laurel will open its doors at 10 a.m. Saturday with a special 11:25 a.m. post for the first of 10 live races.