CHESTER - Every Thoroughbred handicapper knows the race doesn't always go to the swiftest and strongest. But being even-money in the morning line is a pretty solid credential, which is the case for Tend in the $33,700 Welcome Back Dash on Friday at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.
The 5-furlong Welcome Back is the feature event on Mountaineer's opening-night card, and Tend is the prohibitive favorite in the field of seven. His career record includes 33 starts, from which he has gained 10 victories, 13 placings and purse earnings of $465,932. And Tend is a half-brother to Blame, the colt who handed Zenyatta her only career defeat in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.
''He's not Blame, but Tend is a fun horse to have around,'' said Joe Woodard, who trains the 7-year-old gelding for owners Billy, Donna and Justin Hays. ''The Welcome Back is a bit shorter a race than I usually prefer for him. Tend is a sprinter who closes - you won't see him leading from the first jump out of the gate. He saves his best strides for the stretch.''
Tend looks to shine during Friday’s Welcome Back Dash at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.
Tend's resume already includes a trio of stakes triumphs. At age 3, he won the Sam's Town Stakes at Delta Downs in Louisiana. And at age 6 he was a 1 3/4-length winner of the Forego Stakes at Turfway Park and a 1 1/2-length winner of the Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial Stakes at Mountaineer.
DeShawn Parker was aboard Tend in the Byrd Memorial, and will again ride him Friday. The pair also teamed up in a 5-furlong Mountaineer allowance last September. That race was initially carded for the turf, but then switched to the main track. Sweeping five-wide entering the stretch, Tend closed strongly, but finished second by a diminishing head.
Tend was bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider, the same partnership that bred and campaigned Blame. Tend is by Dynaformer, who was a multiple graded stakes winner and five times has ranked among the top four stallions on the annual North American general sire list.
Substantial expectations accompanied Tend when he first entered training. While he hasn't proven to be a great racehorse, he is quite good. Tend broke his maiden at first asking at Turfway in Sept. 2007. Hall of Famer Bill Mott was training him back then. The following year Tend was an allowance winner at Keeneland and completed his 3-year-old season with the Sam's Town victory.
At age 4, Tend twice placed in stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. At age 5 he was stakes-placed at Turfway and then was claimed for $62,500 from trainer Steve Asmussen in a race at Woodbine in Toronto.
Tend subsequently made two more starts at Woodbine, where he was stakes-placed. In October 2010 at Keeneland, Woodard claimed Tend for $80,000 for the Hays family.
''We had looked at the races he had run in Canada, and were impressed with them,'' Woodard said. ''And we noticed the pedigree, too.''
In Tend's last effort, on Jan. 28, he was trying for a second consecutive victory in the Forego at Turfway, but finished second in a photo. All he'll need to be is a step better on Friday to gain his victory of this year.