10/26/2002 12:00AM

Keeneland: Tenpins holds on


LEXINGTON, KY. - Tenpins, the heavy favorite in a field of four, took the lead at the start and withstood a serious challenge from X County late to win the Grade 3, $150,000-added Fayette Stakes, on closing day at Keeneland.

The winning margin was two lengths over X Country. Crafty Shaw was a distant third, and Invisible Ink finished fourth in a field reduced by one with the scratch of Rock Slide.

Tenpins ($3), the 1-2 favorite under Craig Perret, broke quickly from post 1 and grabbed the lead heading into the first turn while racing several paths off the rail.

Invisible Ink and Crafty Shaw both rated less than a length behind Tenpins, but were farther out on the track than Tenpins. With a wide-open rail ahead of him, X Country made a move heading into the far turn and drew even with the favorite near the quarter-pole. Tenpins and X Country then raced together until deep stretch, when Tenpins drew clear after a few light taps of the whip by Perret.

Tenpins, a 4-year-old son of Smart Strike, won his second consecutive graded stakes in the Fayette. He won the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington by a neck last month, but trainer Don Winfree opted to skip today's Breeders' Cup Classic in favor of the Fayette. Bred in Michigan by his owner, Joseph Vitello, Tenpins has won 7 of 10 starts with earnings exceeding $575,000.