Welcome to another installment of this week in Curlin babies: all the news that’s fit to print about Blinkers Off’s favourite sire. This week two Curlin babies won stakes races: Miss Frost prevailed in the Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga in an absolute romp, and Blue Violet joined the ranks of the stakes winners with a beautiful rail run in the Lady’s Secret Stakes. Keening also prevailed by a length in an allowance race during the final day of the Saratoga meet, following Set the Sail and Wise Dan to become the third of trainer Charlie LoPresti’s runners to win in Saratoga’s closing weekend. This week, Bold Conquest steps up from his maiden win to take on the likes of Hashtag Bourbon and Mr. Z in the Iroquois Stakes (GIII), and sharp Delaware Park maiden winner Liza Doolittle Day also makes her first attempt against winners.
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 31, Agawa finished second beaten 1 3/4 lengths in an N1X allowance at a mile and a quarter over the Woodbine turf. The four-year-old filly was midpack along the rail early, angled out down the backstretch, and edged toward Madame G’s uncontested lead. She tried to sprint toward the leader come the stretch, but the damage was done: Madame G had more than enough to sprint just as hard, and maintained her advantage. This was Agawa’s third straight on-the-board finish, but she has not had her picture taken since last August. She is a solid enough performer in these longer turf races, but does not seem to have the explosive turn of foot to close ground late. Still, it seems this is not a bad sort of race for her.
- Blue Violet (Gasia, by Silver Deputy) – On September 1, Blue Violet became Curlin’s thirteenth North American stakes winner, winning the listed Lady’s Secret Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth over the Monmouth dirt. The four-year-old filly stalked along the rail early, about two lengths off the pace set by Rebecca’s Surprise. Odds-on favourite My Miss Sophia, who was trying older for the first time, made a run for the lead through the far turn. By the time the field turned for home Rebecca’s Surprise was back in front. Blue Violet got an opening down the rail, and took advantage. She powered past Rebecca’s Surprise, rebuffed the late outside run from longshot Oasis at Midnight, and prevailed by half a length. She had placed twice before in stakes company, but this was her first stakes win. This was her first start since early July, when she won an allowance at Delaware in a blowout. It was good to see her put it together in stakes company, and it would make sense to see her face similar next out.
- Bold Shot (Soul Search, by A. P. Indy) – On August 30, Bold Shot finished fourth beaten 3 1/4 lengths in a $30,000-$25,000 conditioned claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Ellis Park turf. The four-year-old gelding raced for the lower tag, and was not claimed. He chased in the back early, about five lengths off the lead. He made a serious run at the lead in the final furlong, but got caught behind three horses in front of him. He steadied, and had no place to go. He was moving very well before the traffic trouble, however. This suggests this class level and distance suit him well, and it would make sense to see him face similar next out.
- D’ Pretender (Lady Heroine, by Sea Hero) – On August 31, D’ Pretender finished fourth beaten five lengths in a $7,500 claiming race for three year olds at six and a half furlongs over the Camarero dirt. He challenged pacesetter Daboluck early, but started to lose ground through the turn. He was nosed out by Crafty Delight for third, though the top two horses were five lengths clear of the show photo pair. This was a significant class drop from recent races; he had previously run in $14,000-$12,000 against older. This was welcome, although hopefully something clicks soon. This was his fourteenth start, and he has yet to win since his debut.
- Danalin (Danaway, by Giant’s Causeway) – On August 29, Danalin finished fourth beaten 1 3/4 lengths in an N2X allowance optional claiming race at five furlongs over the Monmouth turf. The three-year-old filly ran under the allowance condition. This was her first start since a disappointing tenth in the Desert Vixen Stakes last out. Both of her wins have been at route distances, so a move to a sprint looked like a way for her to get used to racing again after being off the track for almost a month and a half. The way she ran seemed to back that up: she was midpack, found some racing room in the final furlong, and did not seem to hit her best stride until the last sixteenth. By then she was closing up ground, but it was too late. It would make sense to see her in allowance company at a longer distance next time out.
- Danette (Sugar Britches, by Dixieland Band) – On August 31, Danette finished second beaten just a head in a maiden special weight at one mile over the Del Mar polytrack. The two-year-old filly was racing for the fourth time, and her second at two turns. She was midpack along the rail early, but inched ahead down the backstretch to track in third, a few lengths off. She attacked Maybelline and She’s Reddy through the far turn, and in early stretch she was within a head. She’s Reddy faded, but Maybelline was stubborn. They matched, stride for stride…but Maybelline kept her head in front all the way to the wire. Still, it was a game race for Danette. It will be interesting to see where she goes next, now that Del Mar is over: she could return to Arlington, or possibly try the dirt since trainer Keith Desormeaux is racing at Los Alamitos.
- Federal Agent (Gwenjinsky, by Seattle Dancer) – On August 31, Federal Agent finished second beaten 10 1/2 lengths in a $30,000-$25,000 maiden claiming race at a mile over the Ellis dirt. The race was originally carded for 1 1/16 miles on the turf, but was washed off. The four-year-old gelding raced for the higher tag, and was not claimed. Federal Agent was in the back early, but had improved to midpack by the far turn. Coming into the stretch, pacesetter Dowlingfourtyeight blasted away through the mud, leaving the rest of the field in his wake. Federal Agent kept on, and just managed to get his nose in front of Posture to take the place. Claiming company is where Federal Agent belongs; he is currently an 0-16 maiden, but has tow seconds in three starts for a tag. Hopefully his connections realise this, and keep him at an appropriate level.
- Keening (Haka Girl, by War Chant) – On September 1, Keening won by a length in an N2X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and an eighth over the Saratoga turf. The four-year-old filly has been in good form this year: in five starts this year she has two thirds, a second, and now two wins. She broke well and settled near the back early, but was still just four or five lengths back early. Approaching the far turn, Keening got some room along the hedge. She advanced, angled out into the stretch, and made an outside run. She pulled even with Lady of Gold in the final furlong, and edged away to win. Unlike last out, when she left herself too much to do, she stayed in touch, had a pressured leader, and took good advantage late. It would make sense to see her in an allowance if they can find a condition, or possibly even a small stakes race next out.
- Lord of the Realm (Danceroftherealm (GB), by King of Kings (IRE)) – On August 31, Lord of the Realm finished eighth beaten 15 1/2 lengths in a $7,500-$7,000 N2L claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth on the Fort Erie dirt. The four-year-old colt raced for the higher tag. Breaking from the outside, he settled about two lengths off early. He lost ground as the field processed, though, and could not muster a run at the duelling pair of Swingin Inthe Park or Stand Em Up. He faded down the stretch to last. It was not one of his better races at Fort Erie, and this makes two straight off-the-board finishes for him. It will be interesting to see if he stays in $7,500-$7,000 company, or if he drops down from here. He has tried the lower level at Fort Erie twice, performing about the same as he does at the higher level.
- Miss Frost (Allencat, by Storm Cat) – On August 29, Miss Frost extended her win streak to three, taking the listed Riskaverse Stakes at a mile on the inner Saratoga turf. Unlike her recent allowance win by a nose and her half-length win in the Tenski Stakes, this was a bona fide romp: she won by 4 3/4 lengths. She broke well, got to the rail, and got the lead coming into the clubhouse turn when longshot Scandalous Act went wide. She never looked back. She opened up about three on the field on the backstretch. They approached her coming into the far turn, and got within a length. Miss Frost opened the throttle some more, though, and her lead was about four lengths almost immediately. No one got any closer than that, and she waltzed home a clear winner. This was Miss Frost’s second straight stakes win, and it would make sense to see her back in another stakes — maybe even a graded stakes — given what good form she is in.
- Prince Curlin (No Small Wonder, by Capote) – On August 31, Prince Curlin finished fifth beaten 14 lengths in a $10,000-$8,000 N2L claiming race at six furlongs on the Parx dirt. The four-year-old gelding was up for the higher tag, and not claimed out of the race. He chased in mid-pack early, but ran into trouble and had to steady through the far turn. He lost ground on the front, but was still able to maintain fifth. This was his first race in a month and a half, though he had put up two nice works going in. It was an improvement from recent efforts, though it still suggests that he needs a bit softer company, or something to do other than racing.
- Shiva Curlin (Cavan Thunder, by Jump Start) – On August 30, Shiva Curlin finished sixth as last, beaten 32 1/2, lengths in the Monarchos Stakes at a mile over the Gulfstream dirt. The three-year-old colt was racing on a week’s rest off of a last-place finish in the Forty Niner Stakes on the Gulfstream grass. He raced near the back of the pack, about half a dozen lengths off the lead through the clubhouse turn and the backstretch. Though no one in the field had anything to match the powerful gain of Atreides in the last three furlongs, he did not have anything to match what the rest of the field had. He lagged behind coming down the stretch, and finished between ten and fifteen lengths behind the other four. This ought to be enough. I hope he gets a break soon, either in the sense of some time off the track or in the sense of a drop from stakes company. He was showing at Calder that he could be a nice allowance-level horse at a small track, and that would be far better than his connections continuing to put him in these stakes where he gets beaten so badly.
- Starfire Mist (Misty Lady (ARG), by Lucky Roberto) – On September 1, Starfire Mist finished fourth beaten 3 1/4 lengths in an N2X starter allowance at a mile over the Golden Gate turf. The four-year-old filly was making her second start against winners; last out, she was nosed out in a starter allowance at Santa Rosa. She settled on the outside early, chasing about three lengths off the pace. She was still there coming into the stretch, but did not kick in like Humming Beethoven and Tale Me No Secrets did to take on the pacesetter Aninata. The top three finished in a blanket photo; Starfire Mist settled for a clear fourth. It was not quite as good as race as one could have hoped for, given that she was returning to the site of her maiden win, but it was not bad, either. It would make sense to see her return at this level at Golden Gate.
- Theogony (Upcoming Story, by Tale of the Cat) – On August 29, Theogony was fifth beaten four lengths in an N2X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Woodbine turf. The four-year-old filly, like everyone in the field of five, raced under the allowance condition. Down the backstretch, she chased about three lengths off the pace on the outside. She quickened a bit near the three-eighths pole, getting as close as two lengths from the front, but flattened out turning for home. She found a decent stride again in the final half-furlong, but it was only enough to get her to regain touch with the field. She was not a distant last, but she was last. This was her second race off of an eight-and-a-half month lay; last out, on July 20, she cleared the N1X condition. After running as big as she did last out, she may well have bounced here; it would make good sense to see Theogony return at this level.
- Baht (Belladia, by Silver Deputy) – Baht is on the also-eligible list for a maiden special weight on September 6, run at a mile and a half over the Kentucky Downs grass. If the three-year-old gelding draws in, he would wear #14, and break from outside all of the main entries but inside any other also-eligibles to draw in. This placement seems far over Baht’s head, given that his two starts this year have both been well-beaten runs in maiden claimers at Gulfstream. If his trainer had a track record of shrewdly entering his horses, it may make sense to guess he is a true distance horse. However, he is trained by Gennadi Dorochenko: the same trainer who entered six-start maiden Queen’s Ready in the Pocahontas (GII), and entered Dekabrist in the Iroquois (GIII) on five days’ rest after he faltered in the Hopeful (GI). Baht’s entrymate in this race, also on the also-eligible list, is Polish Cowboy: a sixteen-start maiden who is also faltering in maiden claimers at Gulfstream. The best I can hope for Baht, as well as any of these horses, is that their trainer either enters them somewhere more realistic, or they find their ways to new barns soon.
- Barbara’s Smile (Credenza, by Lord Carlos) – On September 5, Barbara’s Smile is on the also-eligible list for a $25,ooo N2L claiming race at a mile over the Belmont grass. Barbara’s Smile drew number 13; the race has ten main entrants plus six waiting to draw in. The three-year-old filly won her debut at seven furlongs over the grass at Belmont, but had three tough outings at Belmont to follow. Last out, she hit the board in a $25,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles over the turf at the Spa, and she missed the place by just a nose. Her feet may be coming under her enough to do well against winners, and hopefully she builds on that last out if she draws in here.
- Bold Conquest (One for Jim, by Distorted Humor) – On September 6, Bold Conquest runs in the Iroquois Stakes (GIII), a mile and a sixteenth over the Churchill Downs dirt. The two-year-old colt drew the 8 gate in a field of nine. This will be Bold Conquest’s third race. Last out, he broke his maiden at second asking, winning a tough stretch-length duel with Money Changer by a head. He stretches to a route distance for the first time here, but has the breeding and the talent to succeed. It is a class jump from maiden company to the likes of Hashtag Bourbon and Mr. Z, but he deserves to test his mettle here.
- Curlin Crush (Secret Source, by Mineshaft) – On September 6, Curlin Crush makes her career debut in a six furlong maiden special weight over the Kentucky Downs grass. The two-year-old filly drew the 7 gate in a field of nine. She has been working steadily and regularly at Churchill Downs since the beginning of July. Her works are not fast, but they are frequent enough to suggest she should be fit to go. She has some tough competition — particularly Cold Spice, a Mike Maker first-time starter on the turf — but hopefully she can make this race count.
- Dyker Beach (Favorite Feather, by Capote) – On September 7, Dyker Beach is set to run in an N1X/N2L allowance at Belmont, seven furlongs over the dirt. The four-year-old gelding will be making his first attempt in straight (as opposed to starter) allowance company. He scratched out of a six-furlong race at a similar level at Saratoga on Sunday. He has raced at Belmont four times before, finishing no better than second. Then again, second place is not unfamiliar with this one: in nineteen career starts, he has finished second nine times. Still, with the jump in class, even second would be exciting here.
- Keen Ice (Medomak, by Awesome Again) – On September 6, Keen Ice races in a maiden special weight at a mile over the Churchill Downs dirt. The two-year-old colt drew the 9 gate in the field of 12. He has started once before, finishing fourth behind runaway victor Royal Saint in a five and a half furlong sprint at Ellis Park on August 23. Being by Curlin out of an Awesome Again mare, Keen Ice stands to appreciate the stretch out to a mile. He may also improve with the extra start under his belt.
- Larrymoeandcurlin (Sally Bowles (SAF), by London News (SAF)) – On September 5, Larrymoeandcurlin races in a $10,000 maiden claiming race at six furlongs over the Churchill Downs dirt. The three-year-old gelding drew the 5 gate in the seven-horse field. This will be his seventh start. In six previous starts, he has been off the board all six times. He finally dropped to $25,000-$20,000 claiming company from special weight last out, and finished fifth. Here he drops for a lower tag, and is second off the lay. Both of those suggest he may improve here.
- Liza Doolittle Day (Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat) – Liza Doolittle Day is currently cross-entered in two N1X/N2L allowances at Laurel Park. One is on August 5 at five and a half furlongs over the grass, but she is a main track only entry. She would break from the 5 gate if she draws in, in a field of 11 (including 3 MTO entries). The other is on August 6 at six furlongs over the dirt; she would break from the 7 gate in the field of eight. Wherever she runs, it would be her first race since her debut, in which she finished in the top rung of a Curlin babies exacta at Delaware Park. The performance was further vindicated by Une Cherise’s next out; that filly returned to trounce a maiden field at Delaware by eight lengths on August 28. It seems most likely that Liza Doolittle Day will run in the Saturday race, as there is a bit of rain in the forecast but probably not enough to wash races off the turf.
- Mike the Hab (Hightshift, by St. Jovite) – On September 6, Mike the Hab races in a $40,000-$37,500 claiming race at mile and a sixteenth over the Woodbine polytrack. The three-year-old gelding drew the outermost post in a field of eight, and runs for the lower tag. This will be his first race since an eighth-place finish at this level and distance over the Woodbine grass on July 20. He had been entered to run in an N2L allowance at Fort Erie on August 12, but severe thunderstorms cancelled the race. He never re-entered at Fort Erie, but has worked back three times at Woodbine since.
- She’s Curly (Mo Cheoil Thu (IRE), by In The Wings (GB)) – On September 5, She’s Curly is entered in an N1X/N2L allowance at 1 1/16 miles over the Laurel grass. The three-year-old filly drew the 7 gate in a nine-horse field. This race is a welcome class drop from her last out, an eleventh-place finish in the Desert Vixen Stakes at Monmouth. It is the same distance at which she broke her maiden over the Pimlico grass, and she did break her maiden against older. The biggest question is the layoff of almost two months, but regular workouts through the entire month of August suggest she should be fairly fit.
- Always Sarah (Treasure Always, by Summer Squall) – On August 29, Always Sarah had been on the also-eligible list for a maiden special weight at six furlongs over the Saratoga dirt. She did not draw into the race, and was scratched that morning. The two-year-old filly did work back the next day, going four furlongs in 49.77: fourth of 26 at the distance that day. She has still only raced once to date, a sixth-place finish at the Spa on August 6. It would make sense to see trainer James Ryerson enter her soon in a maiden special at the Belmont meet.
- Curalina (Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) – On August 31, Curalina had been entered to race in the Spinaway Stakes (GI), at seven furlongs over the Saratoga dirt. However, trainer Todd Pletcher scratched the two-year-old filly the morning of the race. Curalina finished a strong second behind High Dollar Woman in her first race. According to a representative of her ownership, they decided the Spinaway was too much too soon, and she will be pointed toward a maiden special at Belmont.
- Curlin’s Princess (Image of Mom, by Halo’s Image) – In a September 2 appearance on At The Races with Steve Byk, trainer Martin Wolfson stated that Curlin’s Princess would not be racing again soon, and is on the shelf pending her winter campaign. Curlin’s Princess was the first of Curlin’s third crop to race, and the first to win. Her last race was a fifth-place finish in the Cassidy Stakes at Gulfstream in July. She has posted two works since.
- Dyker Beach (Favorite Feather, by Capote) – On August 31, Dyker Beach had been entered in an N1X allowance at six furlongs over the Saratoga dirt. However, trainer David Jacobson scratched him the morning of the race. It would have been his first start in straight allowance (as opposed to starter allowance) company, and his first since a starter allowance win at the Spa on August 18. He has been reentered in a Belmont race at a similar level as the one from which he scratched, as detailed in the Running Soon section above.
- Liberated (Lady Melesi, by Colonial Affair) – On September 1, Liberated had been entered to run in the Lady’s Secret Stakes, a listed affair run at a mile and a sixteenth over the Monmouth dirt. Trainer Victoria Oliver scratched the four-year-old filly the morning of the race. It would have been her first start since an allowance win at Ellis on July 25. It would not have been a bad place to return, definitely a more reasonable one than the Gardenia (GIII) from which she was also a trainer scratch. She has not worked or entered back since the scratch.
- Lynx (Silver Bird, by Lit de Justice) – On September 1, Lynx had been entered to race in the Smarty Jones Stakes (GIII), run at a mile and seventy yards over the Parx dirt. However, trainer Cathal Lynch scratched the three-year-old gelding from the race. It would have been his first start since his second-place finish in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. He has not worked or entered since the scratch.
- Woelf Den (Gorgeous Goose, by Mongoose) – On August 30, Woelf Den had been entered in the Monarchos Stakes, a mile over the dirt at Gulfstream. However, trainer Martin Wolfson scratched the three-year-old colt the morning of the race. As Woelf Den has struggled in his two starts at Gulfstream (his only two starts since switching out of the Kiaran McLaughlin barn), the scratch seemed a wise one on Wolfson’s part. He has not worked or entered back since the scratch.
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!