There’s a lot going on in racing, which means there’s a lot going on with Curlin’s runners! This past week’s highlights include three winners: Curly Queen and Curlin’s Gold filled out a Curlin babies Daily Double at Calder this past Saturday, and Calamondin scored at Penn National today. There’s an enormous racing week ahead for the Curlin babies, with three racing in Grade I stakes this weekend! As expected, Ride On Curlin is heading postward in the Kentucky Derby. However, Please Explain is also racing in the Kentucky Oaks, and Liberated will be trying her hand (hoof?) at the La Troienne.
- Calamondin (Redaspen, by Bianconi) – On May 1, Calamondin won an N1X allowance at six furlongs over the Penn National dirt. He had the outside gate, and got up to stalk the lead from a length or two off down the backstretch. The four-year-old gelding pulled even with the leaders near the halfway point of the far turn, and drew off down the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths over second-place Parseghian — and ten lengths ahead of the rest of the pack. This was Calamondin’s first start against winners. Back on March 19, in his fourth career start, he won a six furlong maiden special weight by 10 1/4 lengths. It looks like the light has gone on in his head!
- Curlin’s Gold (Harlow Gold, by Orientate) – On April 26, Curlin’s Gold posted a big win in an N1X allowance at Calder, at six furlongs on the dirt. Down the backstretch, she tracked the pace along the rail from a handful of lengths off. She made up ground approaching the far turn, and found a hole while coming around it. She shot past pacesetter R Crown Royalty as the field turned for home, and opened up to win by six lengths. The three-year-old filly was making her first start against winners, after breaking her maiden in her fifth try.
- Curly Queen (Queen Mama, by Seattle Slew) – On April 26, the Curlin babies were burning up the track at Calder. Just one race before Curlin’s Gold prevailed, Curly Queen won a maiden special weight at Calder, at 1 mile 70 yards over the dirt. It was the three-year-old filly’s career start, and the field was a mix of three-year-olds and four-year-olds. She stalked Cookie Xchange’s early lead, made her move coming into the stretch, and found her better gear in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/4 lengths over the closing Teeth of the Tiger. She had finished second in two previous maiden races at Calder: once at the $16,000 claiming level back in March, and once in maiden special company earlier in April.
- J to the Croft (A to the Croft, by Menifee) – On April 25, J to the Croft finished fifth in an N1X allowance optional claimer at Aqueduct, at 1 1/16 miles over the turf. Breaking from the outside in a field of seven, he chased from mid-pack the entire way. He started gaining some ground late, but was never able to seriously threaten any of the horses who hit the board. It doesn’t look like he handled the distance badly, though; I would not be surprised to see him in another route next out. He raced under the N1X condition; it was his first start against winners after breaking his maiden at first asking on April 2. It was the three-year-old colt’s first start on the turf; his maiden win was at six furlongs on the Aqueduct dirt.
- Maria Maria (Hollow Miss, by With Approval) – On April 26, Maria Maria finished fourth beaten 5 lengths in the Goldfinch Stakes, at six furlongs over the Prairie Meadows dirt. She chased the pacesetters from about half a dozen lengths off through most of the race, but was unable to sustain a rally to gain much ground. She passed enough tired horses to finish fourth, but never really challenged. The three-year-old filly had raced on dirt before, including an allowance win at Hawthorne last meet, but has done most of her racing on turf or synthetic.
- Socialbug (Candytuft, by Dehere) – On April 26, Socialbug finished second in an N3X allowance at six furlongs on the Churchill Downs dirt. She broke well, quickly got to the lead, and held it until the field turned for home. Anahauc, who had been stalking just outside her, steadily gained ground through the far turn, and kicked ahead down the stretch to win. Socialbug held second, but crossed the wire 3 1/2 lengths behind Anahauc. This was the four-year-old filly’s first race outside of California, though she had worked once at Churchill Downs before the race. It will be interesting to see if she stays in Kentucky (or goes somewhere else out east), or ends up shipping back to resume racing in California.
- Starfire Mist (Misty Lady (ARG), by Lucky Roberto) – On May 1, Starfire Mist finised sixth in a maiden special weight at one mile over the Golden Gate Fields turf. She got along the rail early, and chased the pace a handful of lengths back. However, she didn’t fire with the run she needed to contend with the leaders. She didn’t lose ground, but she gained very little as well. She crossed the wire sixth in the field of eight, beaten 5 3/4 lengths. This was the lightly-raced four-year-old filly’s third career race, though her first at a mile and her first on the turf. Both of her previous attempts had been at Golden Gate, but at five and a half furlongs on the Tapeta. The fact that she didn’t really tire badly means I wouldn’t be surprised to see her give a mile another try next time out.
- Diversy Harbor (Motokiks, by Storm Cat) – On May 4, Diversy Harbor will race in the Honeymoon Stakes (GII), at 1 1/8 miles over the Santa Anita turf. The three-year-old filly drew the 5 gate in a field of seven. It will be her fourth race, and the second at this distance. Last out, in the Providencia Stakes (GII), she finished second by a length behind Nashoba’s Gold at this same distance over the same track. Diversy Harbor will have the chance to turn the tables on that adversary here; Nashoba’s Gold drew the rail in the Honeymoon. The only other horse returning from that race is Margot Machance (GB), fourth in the Providencia, who drew the 6 gate in the Honeymoon. It’s good to see this promising turf filly back out, and hopefully she can notch her first graded stakes win here.
- Fairness (No Fair, by War Chant) – On May 3, Fairness will race in a $22,000 N1X/N2L allowance at Louisiana Downs, at a mile over the turf. She breaks from the 6 gate in a field of nine. The four-year-old filly last finished 11th beaten 13 lengths in an N1X allowance at about one mile over the Fair Grounds turf; that previous race was her first attempt against winners, after setting the early pace and then fading out badly. I thought she would revert back to dirt, since neither of her two attempts at the green stuff have gone well, but clearly her connections have other ideas.
- Liberated (Lady Melesi, by Colonial Affair) – Usually it makes sense where a horse goes to race. Sometimes it’s a bit of a surprise. But sometimes, it’s such a shock to see a particular horse drawn into a race that comprehension is futile. Such is the case this week with Liberated, who turned up in the Derby undercard in the La Troienne (GI), at 1 1/16 miles. She drew the 2nd gate in a field of six. The four-year-old filly has made two stabs at stakes company: a 3rd in the Golden Rod (GIII) her juvenile year, and then a lackluster 9th place finish in the Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay two starts ago. To be fair, her last start over the Keeneland synthetic was better; she finished eighth, but was beaten by just three lengths altogether. However, this hardly seems the blueprint that points toward a Grade I start, even in a race with such a short field as this year’s La Troienne. I hope she proves me wrong and springs a big surprise here, but she’ll have a hard time getting past horses like On Fire Baby, Devil’s Cave, Unlimited Budget, and Magic Union.
- Lord of the Realm (Danceoftherealm (GB), by King of Kings (IRE)) – On May 3, Lord of the Realm will race in a $8,000-$7,500 N2L claiming race at Woodbine, at seven furlongs over the synthetic. He drew the 10 gate in a field of eleven, and races for the $7,500 tag. This race will be the colt’s four-year-old debut. Last out, back on December 15, he finished 14th and last in a $10,000-$9,500 N2L at the same track and distance. Hopefully the rest and the class drop will nudge him back in the right direction, especially since has been a regular on the worktab at Woodbine for the last month.
- Please Explain (Lizzy’s Bluff, by Pine Bluff) – Please Explain was entered as a surprise entrant in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) on May 2; she will be Curlin’s first Kentucky Oaks starter. She had no points due to her disqualification from the Honeybee, but since the race was short on entrants, it was open for any nominee to enter. She breaks from the rail, the same gate from whence she broke in the Suncoast Stakes as well as the Honeybee (GIII). I discussed this development and my thoughts about it quite a bit in yesterday’s fantasy stable update; read there for more information.
- Rebel Spy (Private Status, by Alydar) – On May 2, Rebel Spy may race in a 1 1/16 mile maiden special weight at Pimlico. The race is originally carded for the turf; Rebel Spy is a main track only entry, so will only go if it is washed off the turf. The lightly-raced four-year-old gelding would make only his third career start here, and only his second of the season. Last out, he was third beaten nine lengths in a maiden special weight at Pimlico on April 17, in his first start since September. Look for him to be fresher this time out, and to possibly enjoy the extra distance given all the classic distances in his blood.
- Ride On Curlin (Magical Ride, by Storm Cat) – As expected, Ride On Curlin will run in the Kentucky Derby (GI) on May 3! This year’s crop of three-year-olds is Curlin’s second; for the second year, a Curlin baby has qualified for the Derby. He drew the 19 gate out of 20 in the field. That isn’t the best news ever, but isn’t terrible assuming that he is going to come from off the pace and make one run. I detailed the preparation and thoughts in my fantasy stable update; look for more about his chances over the next couple days, when I discuss my Derby handicapping.
- Sheikinator (Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) – On May 3, Sheikinator races in a $75,000 N1X/N2L allowance optional claimer on the Kentucky Derby undercard, at 1 1/16 miles over the Churchill dirt. He is not up for the tag; all horses in the race are there under the allowance condition. He has raced once before at the track; his only career win came last November, at 1 1/16 miles over the Churchill Downs dirt. The three-year-old colt has missed the board in three starts since then. Hopefully he will get back on track here. The 1:06.60 five-furlong work he posted on April 26 is less than promising. However, he is trained by Ken McPeek, who has been fairly hot lately.
- Shiva Curlin (Cavan Thunder, by Jump Start) – Shiva Curlin is currently cross-entered in two races. He is entered in a May 2 N1X/N2L allowance at 1 mile 70 yards in the dirt at Parx; he is also entered in the Sir Bear Stakes at Gulfstream, a mile on the dirt, scheduled for May 3. Either way, this would be his first start since breaking his maiden at Calder on April 6. The field at Parx is, unsurprisingly, a bit softer. The Sir Bear Stakes features several horses who have shown up in minor or even major Derby preps: Social Inclusion, East Hall, Casiguapo, and C. Zee.
- Whisper to Curlin (Whisperifyoudare, by Red Ransom) – On May 2, Whisper to Curlin races in a 1 mile 70 yard maiden special weight at Prairie Meadows. He breaks from the rail. The three-year-old colt has raced four times before, and come in second all three times he has raced at Prairie Meadows. On April 18, he was the lower rung of an all-Curlin babies exacta at this same distance on the Iowa oval, finishing second to Sheriff Curly by 3/4 length. He was still another 7 1/4 lengths in front of his closest competitor. Hopefully he breaks his maiden this time!
- Maria Maria (Hollow Miss, by With Approval) – According to the May 1 Arlington Park barn notes, Maria Maria is pointing toward an N3X turf allowance at Arlington Park on May 10. According to trainer Jimmy DiVito, she didn’t exactly like the Goldfinch Stakes (six furlongs in the dirt), and may be better on grass. Depending on how this race goes, she may possibly point toward the Hatoof Stakes and Pucker Up Stakes, both at Arlington, later this summer.
That’s it for this week. If there’s a Curlin baby at any level of racing who you think I missed, leave a comment and let me know so I can add them to my list and cover them in future installments of this week in Curlin babies! Hopefully, by next week, Curlin will have a few more winners — and maybe even another Grade I winner!