Welcome to another installment of this week in Curlin babies: all the news that’s fit to print about Blinkers Off’s favourite sire. The past week featured another Curlin Babies exacta, with Liza Doolittle Day finishing ahead of Une Cherise in a maiden special weight at Delaware Park. This weekend is exciting: Palace Malice is hoping to make it five-for-five on the year with a run in the Whitney (GI), and Whisper to Curlin (a very close relative to Palace Malice, being by his second dam Whisperifyoudare!) makes his long-awaited stakes debut in the Iowa Breeders’ Derby, facing three-year-old Iowa-breds. Please Explain also returns to the track for the first time since the Kentucky Oaks; she will try the turf for the first time in an allowance at Arlington, and Blinkers Off will be there to watch in person.
Without further ado, let’s see what Curlin’s runners have been doing on the track lately!
- Agawa (Silver Adventure, by Silver Deputy) – On August 1, Agawa finished third beaten 3 1/4 lengths in an N1X allowance at a mile and three eighths over the Woodbine turf. She chased easily in midpack for much of the race, letting Precious Stone and Meri Shika tick off the fractions. She finished well, and was able to get past Meri Shika for the show. However, she was still 3 1/4 lengths behind Players Club and Industrial Policy, the latter of whom squeezed Agawa off a bit in the final furlong. The four-year-old filly Agawa had hit the board once at this level last year, but had been off the board in her first three starts this year. She finished third by this same margin last out on June 28 at nine furlongs, and tried eleven furlongs for the first time today. It was good to see that she could handle this well; hopefully she tries the longer distance again soon, and does not get squeezed off late.
- Air Squadron (Air France, by French Deputy) – On July 27, Air Squadron won an N1X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Ellis Park turf, by a nose. The race was his second straight win and his first for the Mike Maker barn, which claimed him for $40,000 out of his last race. This time, the four-year-old colt was in under the allowance condition. He settled midpack in the clubhouse turn, and chased about four lengths off the lead down the backstretch. He started to close in through the far turn, along with a wall of horses, and passed faltering pacesetter Hollywood Script. Empire Knight bumped him late, but Air Squadron still stayed in front by a neck come the wire. This was Air Squadron’s first attempt on the grass; he clearly has some aptitude for the green stuff, and Mike Maker’s risk paid off.
- Captured (Alluring, by A.P. Indy) – On July 26, Captured finished fifth beaten 20 1/2 lengths in a $16,000-$14,000 N2L claiming race at a mile over the Monmouth dirt. The three-year-old gelding settled at the back early, unsurprising since he did break his maiden in a run from the back. However, he never really fired, and only passed wide around a couple of tired horses who were dropping out of it. This was a class drop from his previous time out — a class drop that made sense given his flat performances in his last two starts. After he faltered again here, it would make sense to either see a change of surface or to see him try somewhere other than Monmouth.
- Charismata (Jack’s Little Girl, by Broad Brush), Timeless Pleasure (Salty Sal, by Cox’s Ridge) – On July 26, Charismata and Timeless Pleasure both races in an N1X allowance optional claiming race at a mile over the Emerald Downs dirt. Charismata, a three-year-old filly, finished third beaten 1 3/4 lengths. She went a bit wide at the break, stalked just off of pacesetter Sunpenny on her outside, but could not go with either Sunpenny or Cheeky Stone (the dead heat winners) late. The three-year-old filly broke her maiden last year in her first time out; she has hit the board in five of her six starts against winners, but hasn’t broken through. Timeless Pleasure, also a three-year-old filly, finished fourth beaten 5 1/2 lengths. She chased in fourth a handful of lengths back, and never fired late to engage the three in front. She has not hit the board in three starts since breaking her maiden, and may need a bit of a class drop if she is going to stay at Emerald.
- Curalina (Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) – On July 27, Curalina finished second beaten 1 1/4 lengths in a six-furlong maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies over the Saratoga dirt. The race was her career debut. She bumped around a bit at the break, but settled a handful of lengths back. She went outside turning for home, didn’t switch leads when asked, but still started gobbling up ground in the final sixteenth. She came within a diminishing length and a quarter of High Dollar Woman come the wire. This wasn’t necessarily surprising for a Curlin baby, as they seem to like a little more distance, and appreciate some time to mature. All said, she needs some work, but she looks to be a runner once she learns to calm down, switch leads when asked, and be a little less green.
- Curlin’s Gem (A Little Gem, by Yonaguska) – On July 25, Curlin’s Gem finished fifth beaten 9 1/4 lengths in a maiden special weight at a mile and a sixteenth over the Woodbine poly. The three-year-old filly chased with the main pack early, in third, about half a dozen lengths off the leader. She looked like she was trying to make a move through the far turn, but never fired well enough to get close to the front end. This was her first attempt at a route distance. She has tried poly, turf, and dirt at sprints, and finished no better than fifth in any of her starts. It sounds like another time to go back to the drawing board, though maybe she needs a class drop instead of a surface or distance change.
- Curlin’s Gold (Harlow Gold, by Orientate) – On July 26, Curlin’s Gold finished sixth beaten 5 1/4 lengths in an N1X allowance optional claiming race at seven furlongs on the Gulfstream dirt. The three-year-old filly was in under the allowance condition. She was coming in off a respectable second-place finish in her previous race, but stretching out an extra furlong. She chased near the back of a fairly tight main pack early, but did not fire when asked. The track was sloppy and sealed that day; this was the filly’s first race in the mud, and it is possible that she just did not like the surface.
- Curly Queen (Queen Mama, by Seattle Slew) – On July 27, Curly Queen started a $12,500 N2L claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Gulfstream turf. However, the three-year-old filly pulled up past the half mile pole, and was vanned off the course after the race. It was impossible to see on the race replay what happened; she was already over a dozen lengths back, and out of the camera’s field of view. At this point, I have no further information; I just hope she is okay, and will write an update if I am able to find any more information about how she is doing.
- Dyker Beach (Favorite Feather, by Capote) – On July 27, Dyker Beach finished second beaten a neck in a $50,000 N2Y starter allowance at Saratoga, at seven furlongs on the dirt. He chased four or five lengths off the lead down the backstretch, and started moving approaching the stretch. He was blocked briefly, but found an opening in the final furlong. However, he fell a neck short in his rally. The four-year-old gelding broke his maiden in his fifteenth start — and has finished second by a neck in starter allowances in all three starts since. He has run eighteen times, and finished second exactly nine of those times. He is clearly competitive in this class level, but doesn’t seem to know or care where the wire is at this point…and as he has raced so much already, I wonder if he ever will.
- Federal Agent (Gwenjinsky, by Seattle Dancer) -On July 25, Federal Agent finished sixth beaten 10 1/2 lengths in a maiden special weight at a mile and a sixteenth on the Ellis Park turf. He settled near the back of the pack early, seven or eight lengths out of it. He continued to chase from there, and never had enough run to close up any of that ground. The four-year-old colt has now started fifteen times without a win, though he has been on the board five times. He had started in claiming company for his previous two; this was a class rise, which unfortunately did him no favours. It would make far more sense to see him back in for a tag next out.
- J’esprit (Skip to Baghdad, by Skip Away) – On July 27, J’Espritfinished fifth beaten 6 3/4 lengths in a maiden special weight at five and a half furlongs over the Ellis Park turf. She broke well, and stalked pacesetter Sab’s Devil early. She briefly popped her head in front near the turn for home, but could not keep up with the late cavalry charge. She faded down the stretch. The four-year-old filly is lightly raced: it was her second start this year, but she started just once at two and just once at three. It was good to see her not wait another year before start number four, and hopefully she comes back a little sharper third off the lay.
- Julie Napp (Garden District, by Dixie Union) – On July 30, Julie Napp finished seventh beaten 6 1/4 lengths in an N1X allowance at six furlongs over the Saratoga dirt. It was the three-year-old filly’s first start since breaking her maiden June 22, on the drop from maiden special company to maiden claiming. She broke sharply, but settled back a handful of lengths back. She ran into a bit of traffic early in the stretch, but it cleared up quickly. She continued evenly enough down the stretch, but had no answer for the late charges of La Madrina or Predicate. It is hard to take much from this race; the field was delayed for an hour with tack on as track medical staff worked with Lavender Road, the horse who had collapsed after being scratched out of the previous race. Despite her seventh-place finish, it would make perfect sense to try Julie Napp at a similar level again to see how she handles it without such extenuating circumstances.
- Liberated (Lady Melesi, by Colonial Affair) – On July 25, Liberated won an allowance optional claiming race at a mile over the Ellis Park dirt. The four-year-old filly finished third in her previous race, hitting the board after five previous out-of-the-money finishes on the year. This time out, she was over half a dozen lengths back early, but really started to roll approaching the half-mile pole. She moved around the outside, easily passing the entire field. Sassy Kiss mounted a run late, but Liberated repelled her run. Seeing her finally win a race was fantastic: after being in such poor form earlier this year, her last two races suggest that she is finally rounding back into form for 2014.
- Liza Doolittle Day (Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat), Une Cherise (Lady Cerise, by Honor Grades) – On July 31 Liza Doolittle Day and Une Cherise both made their career debuts in a maiden special weight at six furlongs over the Delaware Park dirt. The two three-year-old fillies made it a Curlin Babies exacta, with Liza Doolittle Day prevailing by 3 1/4 lengths over the second-place Une Cherise. Liza Doolittle Day broke well, got along the rail, and settled in as the pacesetter. Une Cherise, breaking from farther outside, settled in to stalk about half a length off. Coming into the far turn, those two broke away from the field, getting about half a dozen lengths clear of the rest of the pack. The question hardly looked like whether a Curlin baby would win — but, rather, which one would. Inside the furlong pole, Liza Doolittle Day started to pull away; Une Cherise could not quite keep up. She faded, but still had more run than the rest of the field. Though there was daylight in front of her, she still finished another three lengths ahead of third-place For Finery. It would make sense to see Liza Doolittle Day in allowance company next out; expect Une Cherise to be competitive at a similar level and distance when she returns to the track.
- Lord of the Realm (Danceroftherealm (GB) , by King of Kings (IRE)) – On July 27, Lord of the Realm finished second beaten by a nose in a $7,500-$7,000 claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth on the Fort Erie dirt. The four-year-old colt was up for the higher tag, and was not claimed. Lord of the Realm sprinted out to the front early and settled along the rail. He led them on a merry chase at a comfortable pace. He had the lead by over a length turning for home, but coming down the stretch he was besieged by Shanty Bay on his inside and Big Daddy Bill on the outside. They both got up to him, and they crossed the wire in a three-way photo finish. Shanty Bay just got his nose ahead of Lord of the Realm, though he stayed a nose in front of his rival to the outside. He remains eligible for the N2L condition, but it is good at least to see him repeatedly competitive at Fort Erie, instead of being repeatedly beaten badly at Woodbine.
- Lynx (Silver Bird, by Lit de Justice) – On July 29, Lynx finished second beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the Prince of Wales Stakes, run at 1 3/16 miles over the Fort Erie dirt. The race was discussed in detail here a few days ago. Though he could not quite stay with Coltimus Prime late, he still ran well, and his performance validated his connections’ decision to send him for the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. It will be interesting to see where he goes next; a GI or GII in America would likely be over his head, but they could either send him to an allowance as a confidence builder, or to a smaller stakes race where he would likely be competitive.
- Mike the Hab (Highshift, by St. Jovite) – On July 30, Mike the Hab finished eighth beaten 19 1/4 lengths in a $40,000-$37,500 N2L claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Woodbine turf. It was the three-year-old gelding’s second start against winners, as well as his second over the turf. He was midpack early, near the outside, and steadily lost ground. He did not have a rally as the field turned for home, and steadily faded out of contention. He has only run on turf since he broke his maiden two starts back. Even though his previous start was better, it would be no surprise to see him try the synthetic again soon, since that was the surface over which he broke his maiden.
- Ostentatious Me (Gorgeous Me, by Big Spruce) – On July 28, Ostentatious Me finished sixth beaten 18 1/2 lengths in a $65,000 maiden claiming race at a mile and an eighth over the Saratoga dirt. The race was initially scheduled for turf, but was washed off. He was not claimed. He did not break badly, but settled near the back through the clubhouse turn. He was not able to make a run at the top three, and continued steadily losing ground. This was the three-year-old colt’s first race since October of last year; hopefully he will come back sharper with a race under his belt. It was also his first time in the slop, so it is possible that the surface contributed to his poor finish as well. In fact, four of the seven horses in the field finished between 16 1/2 and 19 1/2 lengths back; the poor finish likely had more to do with dislike for the mud than being outclassed in general.
- Starfire Mist (Misty Lady (ARG), by Lucky Roberto) – On July 30, Starfire Mist finished second beaten a nose in a starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles over the Santa Rosa turf. The four-year-old filly was making her first start since breaking her maiden June 15 on the drop into a maiden claimer for the first time. She stalked with the pack about three lengths back early, was boxed up in the far turn, but came through to take the lead in early stretch. She had a short lead through much of the stretch, but the closing Cleverly Beverly nabbed her in the final jump. It was still a good race, though, and shows that her connections put her in the right level.
- Sunset District (America America, by Mister Baileys (GB)) – On July 27, Sunset District finished seventh beaten 17 3/4 lengths in an N1X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Monmouth dirt. The three-year-old colt was making his fourth career start, and his first since breaking his maiden. He settled in the back early: not strange, since he broke his maiden with a sustained run from the back. He just never fired despite being asked. He loped along, only passing tiring longshot Copa del Rey late. It was an oddly flat run — he had worked once between his maiden race and this, and no off track conditions suggested he would go poorly. Hopefully he is okay, and he returns with a strong effort next out.
- Tres Hermanas (Pretty Meadow, by Meadowlake) – On July 25, Tres Hermanas won a $30,000-$25,000 N2L claiming race at a mile on the Gulfstream turf. The three-year-old filly was up for the higher tag. Early, she settled along the rail about eight lengths off. She made up ground steadily through the backstretch and into the far turn, and was less than two lengths off turning for home. She was outside, but had just green, green grass in front of her. She dug in, closed up the ground, and was half a length in front come the wire. This was her first start since last December, and only her third overall. Her connections brought her back at a significantly lower level than her last race (an AOC against company like Duff One, Ready to Act, and Aventure Love); they correctly judged where she would be competitive, and it paid off.
- Waynesborough (Bloomy, by Polish Numbers) – On July 27, Waynesborough finished second beaten 4 3/4 lengths in a state-bred N1X allowance at a mile and seventy yards over the Parx dirt. The four-year-old gelding chased about half a dozen lengths back, letting dueling Spiked and Senor Louie do the dirty work on the front end. He closed ground with the pack approaching the far turn, came on the outside, and had enough run to pick of everyone but the runaway, odds-on Forest Rim. He was another six lengths in front of The High Priest in third. Waynesborough had been running in open claimers in the three starts since he broke his maiden May 4, and tried the state-bred allowance company for the first time. He handled it well, and it will be interesting to see whether his connections run him next out back in the claming ranks, or try this level again.
- Wise Minister (Take a Check, by Touch Gold) – On July 26, Wise Minister finished fifth beaten four lengths in the Crowd Pleaser Handicap, for Pennsylvania-breds at a mile and a sixteenth over the Parx turf. He chased near the back of a very closely-packed field early, still only about three lengths back all told. He did not markedly fade late, but did not fire to close up ground, either. The race was his first attempt in stakes company, and his recent performances in allowance company suggested that a state-bred stakes would be logical to try. The move to first-time turf in a stakes debut was somewhat perplexing, but the fact that he finished only four lengths back in his first attempt on the turf meant that either the level, the surface, or both may be worth trying again.
- Baroness Rose (Sandra’s Rose, by Old Trieste) – On August 3, Baroness Rose races in a five and a half furlong turf sprint at Ellis Park. It is an N1X/N2L allowance optional claimer, and the three-year-old filly is in under the allowance condition. She drew the outermost gate in the field of ten. She has struggled to find her form in four previous starts at other tracks this year, and returns to the Ellis turf for the first time since breaking her maiden there last summer at first asking. This will be her first attempt at a sprint distance, so her ability to handle it is a question, but it makes sense that her connections are trying a new distance at a track they know she can handle.
- Bold Shot (Soul Search, by A. P. Indy) – On August 3, Bold Shot will race in a $30,000-$25,000 claiming race at a mile over the Ellis Park turf. The four-year-old gelding races for the lower tag, and breaks from the 10 gate in a field of eleven. He faltered last out at a mile and a sixteenth over the Ellis turf against easier company, but before that strung together four straight on-the-board finishes in his first four starts against winners. The class rise is a little perplexing here, but hopefully it just means his trainer thought last out was a blip, and he will return to form here.
- Curlin’s Kid (Lucette, by Dayjur) – On August 2, Curlin’s Kid is on the also-eligible list for a $30,000-$25,000 N2L claiming race at about seven and a half furlongs over the Delaware turf. If he runs, the three-year-old gelding would be up for the higher tag. He broke his maiden in his eleventh start, and finished a well-closing third against slightly easier last out. It would require a lot of scratches for him to get in: there are nine in the main field, then two main-track only entries, and then he his third of the three also-eligibles.
- Inmyfathersimage (Friendly Michelle, by Artax) – On August 4, Inmyfathersimage is scheduled to race in an N3L $16,000 starter allowance at seven furlongs over the Parx dirt. The four-year-old gelding drew the 3 gate in a six-horse field. He is taking a well-advised class drop after he finished twelfth and last in an AOC at Monmouth last out, and also cutting back from the mile and seventy yards of his last race. It will be his first race at Parx. Both of his wins have been at longer than this seven-furlong distance, but he missed by just a nose at six furlongs two back. This seems like a reasonable placement for him.
- Keening (Haka Girl, by War Chant) – On August 2, Keening will race in an N2X/N3L allowance optional claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Saratoga turf. She drew the 6 gate in a field of ten, plus one also-eligible entry. The four-year-old filly stretches out from her last race, a clear allowance win at a mile on the Churchill turf on June 13. She should handle both the track and the stretch-out well, though; she finished a game second at nine furlongs in an allowance at Saratoga last summer.
- Myperfectvalentine (Netherland (ARG), by Roy) – On August 3, Myperfectvalentine races in a $16,000 N2L claiming race at six furlongs over the Saratoga dirt. The four-year-old filly drew the 8 gate in a 12-horse field. She returns to the same class level at which she raced last out, finishing ninth beaten 9 1/4 lengths at this distance on the Belmont dirt. She has only raced at Saratoga once, finishing third beaten 2 1/2 lengths in a $20,000 maiden claimer last year. Hopefully she can build on that flash of ability on the surface.
- Palace Malice (Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem) – On August 2, Palace Malice will race in the Whitney Handicap (GI), at a mile and an eighth over the Saratoga dirt. He drew the 5 gate in a field of nine. This will be his first race back from his Met Mile (GI) win on June 7, and he stretches out here. He has done mostly one-mile races this year, but did win at nine furlongs in the New Orleans Handicap (GII) back in March. He has been working well at Saratoga, and has won two of his three career starts at the Spa. This is the toughest field he has faced this year, but Blinkers Off has all the faith in the world that Palace Malice will find the winner’s circle again.
- Please Explain (Lizzy’s Bluff, by Pine Bluff) – On August 3, Please Explain will race in an N2X/N3L allowance optional claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Arlington turf. The three-year-old filly drew the 4 gate in a field of seven. Jockey Channing Hill, who excels over the Arlington turf, will ride the Tom Proctor trainee. She got a break after her run in the Oaks, but has been working steadily at Arlington since June. It will be her first time on the turf, but if she handles the grass well, the distance should not be a problem. Her maiden win was over the same eight and a half furlong distance. In addition to it being her first shot on the turf, it is also her first race against older horses. It is nice to see her dial back to allowance company after doing graded stakes through the spring, and it could open some doors for her if she contends well on the green stuff.
- Whisper to Curlin (Whisperifyoudare, by Red Ransom) – On August 2, Whisper to Curlin will race in the Iowa Breeders’ Derby, for Iowa-bred three-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth over the Prairie Meadows dirt. The three-year-old colt drew the 6 post in a field of eight; he is number 5, though, as there is a combined 1/1A entry. It will be his stakes debut. It took the colt six tries to break his maiden, but the drop from open maiden special company to state-bred maiden special company did the trick. After a third place finish in his first try against winners, he posted a strong allowance win over stablemate Ooey Gooey in a state-bred N1X last out. Both Whisper to Curlin and Ooey Gooey return this time out, and are respectively the morning line favourite and second favourite in this race.
- Woelf Den (Gorgeous Goose, by Mongoose) – On August 3, Woelf Den will race in an N1X/N2L allowance optional claiming race at a mile over the Gulfstream Park dirt. The three-year-old colt drew the rail in the ten-horse field. It will be his first start since a fourth-place finish in an allowance at this distance over the Belmont dirt, and the field he faces at Gulfstream in the summer should be a bit easier. He has been working over the track there since early July, including two bullets, suggesting a good chance at handling the track well. The distance also bodes well; he broke his maiden in a dirt mile at Laurel.
- Blue Violet (Gasia, by Silver Deputy) – Blue Violet had been entered for the Molly Pitcher Stakes (GII) on July 27, at a mile and a sixteenth over the dirt. However, the four-year-old filly was a trainer scratch. It would have been her first race since a dominating allowance win at Delaware on July 3. She did return for a sharp four-furlong drill on August 1 at Delaware.
- Curlin Iron (Double D Appeal, by Successful Appeal) – Curlin Iron had been scheduled to run in the third race at Del Mar on August 1, a $20,000-$18,000 maiden claiming race. However, he was scratched from the race. This would have been the three-year-old colt’s career debut; he has been working at Santa Anita and then Del Mar since June.
- Inspired by Grace (Harve de Grace, by Boston Harbor) – Inspired By Grace had been on the also-eligible list for an N1X allowance optional claiming race at five and a half furlongs over the Monmouth turf on July 26. However, none of the main entries scratched, so she ended up not getting into the race. This would have been her first race back since finishing third behind Cassatt in an allowance at Delaware on July 16. She had worked back; on July 29, she did a four-furlong drill at Parx.
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!