this week in Curlin babies: 7.3.14

Welcome to another installment of this week in Curlin babies: all the news that’s fit to print about Blinkers Off’s favourite sire.  In the last week, J to the Croft once again showed his promise, prevailing over a tough allowance field of three-year-olds at Belmont.  Moulin de Mougin proved herself competitive in the Royal Heroine Stakes (GII), placing third in her first graded stakes attempt.  This week’s runners are headlined by Stopshoppingdebbie, the seven-for-seven filly who returns to Emerald Downs this Sunday in the Boeing Handicap.

Without further ado, let’s see what Curlin’s runners have been doing on the track lately!

Race Results

  • Agawa (Silver Adventure, by Silver Deputy) – On June 28, Agawa finished third beaten 3 1/4 lengths in an N1X allowance at about 1 1/8 miles over the turf at Woodbine.  The four-year-old filly hit the board for the first time in four starts this year.  She settled near the back early, nine lengths off the pace.  She was content to chase from there, but started to make up ground as the field came through the far turn.  Agawa swung around wide as the field turned for home, and rallied up the centre of the track.  She could not get to late leaders Holy Empress or A Better Breeze, but fought to get her neck ahead of Meri Shika in the final sixteenth to grab the show.  This was her first race at a mile and an eighth since an allowance last September — and her first time hitting the board since that start, too.  It would make sense to see her at nine furlongs again next out.
  • Air Squadron (Air France, by French Deputy) – On June 28, Air Squadron won a $40,000-$35,000 claiming race at a mile on the Churchill Downs dirt.  He was up for the higher tag, and claimed out of the race.  He had been trained by Steve Margolis and owned by Mount Joy Stables; the four-year-old colt is now trained by Mike Maker and owned by Armando Rodriguez.  He broke well, and down the backstretch stalked right behind Kowboy Boots, only about a neck behind.  Coming through the far turn, they bobbed neck and neck, and then Air Squadron got his head in front.  They were that close going into the final sixteenth, when Kowboy Boots finally gave way.  Air Squadron crossed the wire a length in front.  This was Air Squadron’s first drop in for a tag, and the class drop did him well.
  • Barbara’s Smile (Credenza, by Lord Carlos) – On June 29, Barbara’s Smile finished fifth and last in a $40,000 claiming race at a mile over the Belmont turf.  This was the three-year-old filly’s third race, and her second against winners.  She ran with the pack early, chasing early pacesetter Malibu Queen from about half a dozen lengths back.  Coming into the far turn, the rest of the field began to make their moves, but she was left behind and lost ground.  She angled off the rail as the field turned for home, and looked like she was trying to make a move, but never really fired.  She crossed the wire eleven lengths behind winner Medaglia D’Argento, and was the only one who didn’t finish within three lengths of the winner.  It will be interesting to see what she does next.  She could try either cutting back in distance (her maiden win was at seven furlongs), or maybe taking a dial back in class.  She has finished last in her last two races, though, which means some significant change would make sense.
  • Blue Violet (Gasia, by Silver Deputy) – On July 3, Blue Violet waltzed to a ten-length victory in an N2X allowance optional claimer at a mile and seventy yards on the Delaware dirt.  She broke from the rail, and won a brief skirmish with longshot Roses and Dreams for the honour of dictating the pace.  She wasn’t loose on the lead early, only about a length in front through most of the backstretch, but set perfectly comfortable fractions.  As the field entered the backstretch, she started to roll, and steadily opened up her lead through the rest of the race.  Foursouthernbelles, caught wide, was able to get in front of Roses and Dreams for the place, but Blue Violet was long gone.  This was the four-year-old filly’s first race back from her disappointing seventh in the Obeah Stakes (GIII) last out, and looed like exactly what she needed to get back on track.
  • Cash in My Pocket (Salty Farma, by Salt Lake) – On June 28, Cash in My Pocket finished third beaten 4 1/4 lengths in a maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles over the Churchill Downs turf.  This was the three-year-old filly’s fourth race, and her first time on the board.  She broke sharply, and was right on the front early with Poster Girl.  When the pace settled, she had the lead, with Poster Girl and Tempers Flair stalking just on her outside.  Engaginglee tried to engage them through the far turn, but didn’t have room to come out along the rail yet.  Turning for home, Tempers Flair and Poster Girl faded out of the picture.  Cash in My Pocket tried to hang on, but could not keep up with either Sistas Stroll flying on the outside, or Engaginglee, who found a hole along the rail.  She finished 4 1/4 lengths behind Sistas Stroll, but was still a clear third: it was another 5 1/2 lengths back to Tempers Flair.  It seems as though trainer Steve Margolis is racing at Ellis now; it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her turn up in a maiden special weight turf route there next.
  • Curlin N Twirlin (Bluff for Bluff, by Pine Bluff) – On June 28, Curlin N Twirlin finished third beaten two lengths in a $16,000 starter allowance at six furlongs on the Parx dirt.  The four-year-old filly had a good stalking position early, a shortening length off pacesetter Terri’s Pass down the backstretch.  However, coming out through the far turn, she faded out as Lover’s Dream and Cactus Cowgirl moved in to challenge Terri’s Pass.  Lover’s Dream, charging on the outside, overtook the pacesetter.  However, Curlin N Twirlin found enough run in the final furlong to make up some ground, and get a length in front of Cactus Cowgirl for the show.  This does look to be a reasonable and competitive level for her; expect to see her in a similar race next out.
  • Curls in Place (Pola’s Place, by Out of Place) – On July 3, Curls In Place finished fourth beaten 19 1/4 lengths in a maiden special weight at five and a half furlongs in the Belterra Park dirt.  This was the two-year-old filly’s career debut.  She broke slowest of the field, but got up into a decent stalking place.  However, she did not have a challenge for pacesetter Nile Queen or closest stalker Holy Charm late, as those two pulled away down the stretch.  It was a bit flatter than I had hoped to see from her given the worktab, but it was still just the filly’s first race.  The top two finishers had some racing experience under them; hopefully this gives Curls in Place a better idea of what to expect next time, and leads to a better result.
  • Curly Queen (Queen Mama, by Seattle Slew) – On June 29, Curly Queen finished eighth and last, beaten 18 3/4 lengths, in a $16,000 N2L claiming race at a mile on the Calder turf.  She settled in midpack, chasing the early fractions of Wild Heiress and Cuentos from about four lengths back early.  She lost some ground down the backstretch, but briefly looked like she was going to attempt a challenge through the far turn.  She couldn’t sustain it, though, and dropped back to last as the field turned for home.  The three-year-old filly was dropping into claiming company for the first time since her debut race, a second-place finish in a maiden claimer at Calder.  However, this was also her first time on the turf, and even with the class drop it didn’t look like the turf agreed with Curly Queen.  This level would be no surprise next out, but it would be surprising not to see her return to dirt.
  • D’Pretender (Lady Heroine, by Sea Hero) – On June 27, D’Pretender finished second beaten a head in a $14,000-$12,000 claiming race at six furlongs on the Camarero dirt.  It was his second time in claiming company; he had started in allowances nine times after breaking his maiden at first asking, but finished no better than second in those outings.  In this race, the three-year-old colt was unhurried early, chasing a handful of lengths back on the rail.  He made his move through the far turn on the inside, as Don Suave made his on the outside.  They both swallowed up early pacesetter Instant Respect, and fought to the wire.  D’Pretender had his head in front until the last few strides, when Don Suave had just enough to get in front.  I would expect to see him around this level next out, since it’s somewhere where he can be competitive.
  • Danalin (Danaway, by Giant’s Causeway) – On June 28, Danalin won a 1 1/8 mile N1X allowance over the Monmouth turf.  It was her eighth career start, and her first win since her first out, since she broke her maiden.  She had placed either third or fourth in every start in between (though her previous time out, she had crossed the wire second, but had been disqualified to fourth).  It was her first time going nine furlongs, and it could not have gone better for her.  She broke well, got to the lead, got to the rail, and never looked back.  She was not loose on the lead early; Patinka stalked her from about a length back through the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch, and the pack was tight.  Turning for home, though, Danalin kicked away strongly.  There was a fight for second, with less than a length separating second place from fifth, but Danalin got home a decisive 4 1/4 lengths in front.  Next out, it would make sense to see her in another turf route like this; with that late kick in a nine-furlong race, she clearly has the right stamina.
  • Federal Agent (Gwenjinsky, by Seattle Dancer) – On July 3, Federal Agent finished second beaten five and a half lengths in a $10,000-$9,ooo maiden claiming race at a mile on the Ellis Park turf.  The four-year-old colt was up for the higher tag, and claimed out of the race.  He was previously trained by Neil Howard and owned by W. S. Farish and Lazy F Ranch; he is now trained by Carolyn S. Murphy and owned by 317 Irish Racing Partnership.  He was in his second race in claiming company, after twelve unsuccessful attempts to break his maiden at the special weight level.  He broke slowly, and settled about half a dozen lengths back early.  He gained some ground on the outside down the backstretch, but fired way too late to challenge the breakaway winner E Pluribus.  He did get up enough late to nip pacesetter Clever Fox by a head at the wire.  As a fan I would love to see him do well, but from an analysis perspective I am wondering whether Federal Agent wants to win.  Hopefully he will improve in his new barn.
  • J to the Croft (A to the Croft, by Menifee) – On June 27, J to the Croft prevailed by a neck in an N1X allowance for three-year-olds at seven furlongs over the Belmont turf.  For a three-year-old allowance race, this was a relatively salty field.  It featured several stakes horses who were trying turf, including Los Borrachos, Harpoon, and Fabulous Kid.  With that the case, J to the Croft was still the bettors’ favourite when the gates sprang open, and the colt showed why.  He broke from the outermost gate, and stalked about a length and a half back while pacesetter Unlocked ticked off some brisk early fractions.  Turning for home, Unlocked began to fade.  J to the Croft got the lead, and opened up daylight.  He wasn’t set yet, though; Los Borrachos made a furious late run down the centre of the track.  J to the Croft had enough to rebuff his run, and held on to score by a neck.  Maybe we will see him at Saratoga soon, in the next condition up the ladder.
  • Moulin de Mougin (Cambiocorsas, by Avenue of Flags) – On June 28, Moulin de Mougin achieved her first graded stakes placing in her first graded stakes attempt, finishing third in the Royal Heroine Stakes (GII) at a mile on the Santa Anita turf.  The four-year-old filly had finished off the board in all three of her previous stakes attempts, but was coming into this race cutting back in distance from her last out, a 1 1/8 mile allowance win.   She broke well, was near the front very early, but settled in three or four lengths back with the pack, chasing the fractions set by the frontrunning pack of Kathleen Rose, Parranda, and Dutchessa.  She made her move in the far turn, coming in four wide around those leading three.  Parranda and Kathleen Rose separated from the pack late, with Parranda winning by a neck, but Moulin de Mougin dug in well enough to repel the closing run from Wishing Gate and hold third.  I had feared going into this race that this may be ambitious, and hoped trainer Richard Mandella knew better than I did.  It makes me happy to report that he did; Moulin de Mougin was competitive here.
  • Prince Curlin (No Small Wonder, by Capote) – On June 30, Prince Curlin finished fourth and last, beaten 7 1/2 lengths, in a $7,500 N2L claiming race at five furlongs over the dirt at Parx.  Parx has historically been the four-year-old gelding’s best track; both his maiden win and his only second-place finish happened on that track this spring.  This time out, he broke slowest of the four in the race, and was a distant trailer the entire way around.  Judging from his better races in the past, he was done early; his better outings have had him close to the lead early, as opposed to being left to make up over half a dozen lengths at the first call.  Hopefully he will start better and get that trip next time.
  • Reversiontothemean (Jet Setting, by Forestry) – On June 30, Reversiontothemean broke her maiden, winning a maiden special weight at six furlongs over the Suffolk Downs dirt by a strong 5 3/4 lengths.  The three-year-old filly was making her ninth career start, and had finished second in each of her previous three races.  When the pace settled after the break, she was in a good stalking place about a length or two off the pace that Rising Tigress and Restless Rebel were setting.  Through the far turn she came outside that leading pair.  She and Restless Rebel broke ahead of the pack as the field turned for home, but just past the furlong pole Reversiontothemean found her next gear.  She was almost half a dozen lengths in front of Restless Rebel come the wire, and eleven clear of third-place Sultan’s Princess.  The three straight second place finishes were beginning to make me wonder if she would be afflicted with second-itis, but this win was convincing — and hopefully confidence-building for her.
  • Shiva Curlin (Cavan Thunder, by Jump Start) – On June 28, Shiva Curlin finished seventh beaten 36 1/2 lengths in the Quality Road Stakes at Gulfstream, at a mile and a sixteenth over the dirt.  The three-year-old colt came into this race off an allowance win at Calder last out.  He faced a far tougher field here, which included Wildcat Red in his first race back from the Kentucky Derby, as well as East Hall, who frequently spoiled the lower rungs of exotics in the Derby preps around Florida.  He was near the pack early, four or five lengths off the snappy early pace set by Purchango and Wildcat Red.  He started fading down the backstretch, though, and couldn’t mount a late run.  He was off the screen late, though it looked like he was all but eased coming toward the line.  Shiva Curlin has done his best work at Calder, but has also faced two significantly tougher stakes fields in his two starts at Gulfstream.  With Calder halting the dates war this month, Shiva Curlin will likely race at Gulfstream; hopefully his connections will put him in allowance company instead.
  • Slip By (Fortune Pending, by Fortunate Prospect) – On June 29, Slip By won an N1X allowance at about seven and a half furlongs over the Parx turf.  It was his first start at Parx, and first against winners.  The three-year-old colt chased with the pack early, about half a dozen lengths off the lead, but started making up ground approaching the far turn.  He took aim on pacesetter Public Secret, passing him shortly after the field turned for home.  He opened up a few lengths on the field, but had to repel a late charge from Global Glow as the wire approached.  He had enough, though, and won by 3/4 length.  It looked like the light was starting to come on at Keeneland, where he finished third in a maiden special weight in April as a 14/1 shot.  However, Slip By has found his spot on this mid-Atlantic circuit in these last two starts.  His last out before this, he broke his maiden at Delaware on May 31, and now he has beaten winners.
  • Timeless Pleasure (Salty Sal, by Cox’s Ridge) – On June 29, Timeless Pleasure finished 8th and last, beaten eight lengths, in the Irish Day Handicap.  That race was run at a mile over the Emerald Downs dirt.  The three-year-old filly broke from the rail, and got bumped by Cheeky Stone coming out of the gate.  She raced against the rail and got within about two lengths early in the backstretch, but gradually lost ground and was never able to put in a rally.  She broke her maiden in a maiden optional claimer at Emerald two starts before this one, and has been over her head the last two times out in stakes company.  Her connections have tried her in the deeper pond, but it seems time to dial her back at least to allowance company, and give her a chance to succeed next out.

Running Soon

  • Bold Shot (Soul Search, by A. P. Indy) -On July 6, Bold Shot races in a $16,000-$14,000 claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth on the Ellis Park turf.  The four-year-old colt drew the 10 gate in an 11-horse field, and is up for the higher tag.  This will be his first race since a second-place finish at Churchill Downs in a $40,000-$35,000 race at this distance on turf.  He drops in class compared to all of his races since breaking his maiden, but he has finished third once and second three times in that span.  He can clearly race, but hopefully this softer company will get him past the second-itis.  However, given how well he has done against tougher, it would not surprise me to see him claimed out of this one.
  • Captured (Alluring, by A. P. Indy) – On July 4, Captured races in a $30,000-$25,000 claiming race at a mile over the Monmouth dirt.  The three-year-old gelding drew the 2 gate in the six-horse field, and races for the higher tag.  This is his second start against winners, and likely a better placing for him.  Last out he was seventh at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, in $35,000-$30,000 company.  This time he steps down a rung in class, and returns to the dirt.  This will be his first race at Monmouth, but he did break his maiden at 1 1/16 miles on the Pimlico dirt two starts back.
  • Charismata (Jack’s Little Girl, by Broad Brush) – On July 6, Charismata races in an N1X/N2L allowance optional claiming race at six furlongs over the dirt at Emerald Downs.  The three-year-old filly races under the allowance condition, and breaks from the 3 post in the six-horse field.  This is the same level and distance at which she finished second on June 14.  In that last race, she finished second 1 1/4 lengths behind Find Your Spot, who followed up that allowance win with a win in the Irish Day Handicap next out.  That validates the form of her last time out, and suggest she can do well here.
  • Curlin’s Gold (Harlow Gold, by Orientate) – On July 5, Curlin’s Gold races in a $16,000 allowance optional claiming race at six furlongs over the Gulfstream dirt.  The three-year-old filly drew the 4 post in a field of eight, and races under the allowance condition.  Last out, on May 31, she placed third in the Leave Me Alone Stakes at Calder; she has never finished off the board in six starts over that oval.  She has started once at Gulfstream before, a seventh-place finish in a $75,000 maiden claimer, but that race was a turf mile.  This will be her first try over the Gulfstream dirt, and will be at the same distance at which she has won twice.  This looks like a good placing for her, especially in light of the curtailed racing schedule at Calder.
  • Inmyfathersimage (Friendly Michelle, by Artax) – On July 6, Inmyfathersimage races in an N1X/N2L allowance optional claiming race at a mile and seventy yards over the Monmouth dirt.  The four-year-old gelding breaks from the 8 gate in a twelve-horse field, and races under the allowance condition.  This is a bit of a rise in class from the $32,000 straight claiming company he raced against last out on June 4, but he raced extremely well last out; his late run fell a scant nose short at the wire.  That last out was a sprint distance, but his two career wins are at longer: a mile, and a mile and seventy yards.  This suggests he will appreciate the stretch-out here.
  • J’esprit (Skip to Baghdad, by Skip Away) – On July 5, J’esprit will race in a maiden special weight at five and a half furlongs on the Ellis Park turf.  She breaks from the 3 gate in a field of twelve, with one also eligible.  The four-year-old filly has raced very little.  This is only her third career start, and her first since June of last year at Monmouth when she finished second beaten 4 1/2 lengths in a turf route.  Before that, she only started once — in August of her two-year-old year, at Saratoga, where she was third beaten 1 1/2 lengths in another turf route.  This is her first time at a sprint distance.  She has never raced poorly, but the spotty race record does make me wonder what kinds of physical issues she may have.  She does have a good series of works over the last two months, though, so there is a chance she will race well.
  • Lord of the Realm (Danceroftherealm (GB), by King of Kings (IRE)) – On July 6, Lord of the Realm is slated to run a $5,000-$4,750 N2L claiming race at six and a half furlongs over the Fort Erie dirt.  He races for the higher tag.  The four-year-old colt drew the 5 post in the eight-horse field.  This is his third race at Fort Erie, and he has shown improvement since he moved over from Woodbine.  The only time he hit the board in twelve starts at Woodbine was the time he broke his maiden; he has been second in both of his races at Fort Erie.  This is a drop from last out, when he ran in $7,500-$7,000 company.  He should be at least competitive here.
  • She’s Curly (Mo Cheoil Thu (IRE), by In the Wings (GB)) – On July 5, She’s Curly races in an N1X/N2L allowance at about 1 1/16 miles on the Delaware Park turf.  The three-year-old filly drew post position 11 in a field of fourteen, which includes three main track only entries.  This will be her fourth start, and her first against winners.  Last out, on May 30, she made a big closing run to take a maiden special weight at this distance on the Pimlico turf.  An N1X against older is a big class jump for her; hopefully she handles it well.
  • Stopshoppingdebbie (Taste the Passion, by Wild Again) – On July 6, Stopshoppingdebbie races in the Boeing Handicap at a mile over the Emerald Downs dirt.  The undefeated four-year-old filly drew the rail, and races against only three other foes.  The field includes Goin to the Window, Blueberry Smoothie, and Madame Pele: the second, third, and fourth place finishers in Stopshoppingdebbie’s last race — and, the former two, her stablemates.  Goin to the Window gave her a late challenge last time out, getting within half a length at the wire.  She has posted two long works since then, though, suggesting she is in good condition to try for her eighth win in a row.  I hope she wins…and I hope she ventures outside of Emerald Downs soon, instead of facing the same few horses every time she goes out.
  • Sunset District (America America, by Mister Baileys (GB)) – On July 5, Sunset District races in a maiden special weight at a mile and seventy yards over the Monmouth dirt.  The three-year-old colt drew the 5 gate in a field of eight.  He has raced twice before, both times at Monmouth and both times under these conditions.  He has hit the board both times, though been fairly well beaten both times as well: first out he was third beaten seven lengths behind Encryption, and second out he was second beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Irish You Well.  Encryption followed that win with a second-place finish in the Pegasus (GIII), and Irish You Well had already finished third in both the Illinois Derby (GIII) and the Peter Pan (GII) by the time he broke his maiden.  That validates Sunset District to some extent, assuming he does not run into another graded stakes quality horse here.

Other News

  • Bold Shot (Soul Search, by A. P. Indy) – On July 3, Bold Shot had been slated to run in a $25,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles over the Arlington turf.  However, he scratched the morning of the race.  He was initially listed as a trainer scratch, which makes sense because the races were taken off the turf today at Arlington.  Bold Shot has been reentered at Ellis on Sunday, as discussed above in the Racing Soon section.
  • Ride On Curlin (Magical Ride, by Storm Cat) – This week, trainer Billy Gowan announced that Ride On Curlin would not be pointing toward Saratoga.  Instead, his planned next start is the West Virginia Derby (GII) at Mountaineer on August 2, and then the Pennsylvania Derby (GII) at Parx on September 20.  I love this plan.  It gives him time to recuperate from Belmont and train back up, and may well give him a chance to get his confidence up heading into the fall.  He is clearly a strong racehorse; he proved that by performing so consistently through the prep season and grinding his way to the Derby like he did.  However, the fact remains that he hasn’t seen the winner’s circle since his allowance win at Oaklawn in January.  Gowan looks to be giving Ride On Curlin a chance to remember how to win, and I appreciate that.

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 or send me an email and let me know so I can add them to my list and cover them in future installments of this week in Curlin babies!

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