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’s highlights include Golden Actor breaking his maiden in an extremely game manner, Kulik Lodge winning his second start of the year, Lynx running away with his second start since the Prince of Wales, and Franklyididitmyway gutting his way past the N3L condition. Coming up this week, Baroness Rose wheels back after her fourth-place finish in the TaWee Stakes, and Curls In Place, Larrymoeandcurlin, and Sir Nicholas all have their chance to graduate from the ranks of the maidens. As for Curlin babies headed to the Breeders’ Cup: one is all systems go, and another is off the trail.
Without further ado, let’s see what Curlin’s runners have been doing on the track lately!
- Baht (Belladia, by Silver Deputy) – On October 12, Baht finished ninth beaten 20 lengths in a $12,500 maiden claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Gulfstream Park West (née Calder) grass. The three-year-old gelding has raced over that track and distance once before in his previous six starts, finishing eighth beaten six lengths in maiden special weight company in January. He was hustled early, and chased in third through the clubhouse turn, four or five lengths off frontrunning Picketts Corner. He steadily lost ground down the backstretch, though, and was last as the field entered the far turn. He had no late rally, straggling home alone and last. This was his seventh start, and he has failed to hit the board all seven times. It is good that Gennadi Dorochenko is trying him in lower level maiden claimers and not maiden specials at Kentucky Downs (as he was so mercifully scratched from as also-eligible last month), but it still does not look like he is much for running, period.
- Barbara’s Smile (Credenza, by Lord Carlos) – On October 13, Barbara’s Smile finished fifth beaten 2 1/2 lengths in a $25,000 N2L claiming race at a mile on the Belmont turf. The three-year-old filly was racing at the same level as last out, but stretching out from a seven-furlong attempt last out. She chased midpack on the outside through the backstretch, and started to lose a bit of position entering the far turn. She had to angle out wide turning for home, but then started to make up ground. She was outfinished for fourth, but acquitted herself decently enough in light of the traffic trouble she had. Her recent finishes have been close enough to suggest that she is not completely outclassed here, but it still seems she may need a change, such as a drop in class or a different trainer, for her to do her best.
- Blisstering Strike (Brief Bliss, by Navarone) -On October 9, Blisstering Strike finished seventh beaten 12 3/4 lengths in a $50,000 N3L claiming race at seven furlongs over the Belmont grass. The three-year-old filly was going back in for a tag after a fourth-place finish in an N1X allowance turf dash at Laurel last out. She chased early on the outside, about two lengths off the lead. She was trying to rally with the field approaching the turn for home, but quickly emptied out and faded to last. The placement was particularly strange because Blisstering Strike was skipping a condition — to date, her only win was her maiden-breaker back at Penn National in July. Running her on turf made sense given that she did break her maiden on the grass, but skipping a condition — especially since she was moving back to the tougher waters of Belmont — probably had her in over her head. It would make sense to see her back in a turf dash next time, and back against N1X or N2L company.
- Bold Curlin (To the Brim, by Ascot Knight) – On October 11, Bold Curlin finished fourth beaten 12 1/4 lengths in an N4X allowance optional claiming race at a mile over the Laurel dirt. The four-year-old gelding was in under the allowance condition. He was racing for the first time since January, when he captured the Northern Dancer Stakes at Laurel. Bold Curlin stalked about two lengths off of early leader Warrioroftheroses down the backstretch of the one-turn mile, kept on through the far turn, but dropped back out of contention down the stretch. This was his first race in ten months, and also his first time on the slop. Either of those things could have contributed to his subpar effort this time out, and hopefully he will be sharper when he returns to the track.
- Captured (Alluring, by A. P. Indy) – On October 11, Captured finished seventh beaten 7 3/4 lengths in a$6,250-$6,000 N4L claiming race at a mile over the Penn National dirt. The three-year-old gelding raced for the higher tag. He broke slowest of all, and flung out very wide into the clubhouse turn. He advanced a bit to chase about half a dozen lengths off the early pace, near the back. He lost a bit of ground through the far turn, gaining it back late, but never actually threatened for a share. He was trying the N4L condition for the first time, after having won an N3L in $7,500 company over that track in his previous outing. The placing did make sense for him classwise, and it would be logical to see him in another N4L at about the same level next out.
- Curlin’s Gem (A Little Gem, by Yonaguska) – On October 10, Curlin’s Gem finished fifth beaten 4 1/4 lengths in a $50,000-$47,500 maiden claiming race at seven furlongs on the Woodbine polytrack. The three-year-old colt was up for the higher tag. It was his first time in maiden claiming company, after four runs in maiden specials. He has a less than good start, being bumped out of the gate by May and Bens Song. He settled at the back of the pack, but started making up ground along the far turn. He closed up distance down the stretch, and even though he never got close to winner Panther Key, he did have enough to be up for a four-way show photo. It was an improvement from his performances in special weight company, and it would be no surprise to see him face similar next out.
- Dyker Beach (Favorite Feather, by Capote) – On October 11, Dyker Beach finished fourth beaten 3 1/2 lengths in a $32,000 conditioned starter optional claiming race at seven furlongs over the sloppy Belmont dirt. The race was originally carded for turf, but was washed off. He raced under the allowance condition. The four-year-old gelding chased early near the back of the main pack, about four lengths off the front. He stayed in it, but did not find quite enough stride until within the final sixteenth. He got within a neck of the place photo, but never challenged Non Stop, who had kicked away to win. This was a class drop from straight allowance company, in which he had finished second last out; that last run had been in the slop. Still, it seems a bit more evidence for the claim that Dyker Beach is a dyed-in-the-wool undersides horse, without much love for getting to the front first. He just about always shows up…but just about never gets all the way there.
- Franklyididitmyway (Company Binness, by Seattle Dancer) – On October 11, Franklyididitmyway won a $5,000 N3L claiming race at a mile and seventy yards over the Finger Lakes dirt by a neck. The three-year-old gelding was cutting back from an attempt at 1 1/16 miles at this level last out, and had cleared N2L two starts back. He was near the front of the pack early, but the rest of the field was so keen to go on that he was soon seventh of eight — though only three lengths off the pace. He rallied along the rail through the turn, and despite having some traffic trouble approaching the turn for home, he found some space on the outside. He engaged Stable Boy Kelly, and though his adversary fought gamely, Franklyididitmyway prevailed by a neck. Franklyididitmyway has clearly found his track and his level: he has raced seven times at Finger Lakes this year, won thrice, and hit the board all seven times. He is a consistent horse for the course.
- Golden Actor (Clever Actress, by Theatrical (IRE)) – On October 13, Golden Actor broke his maiden, winning a maiden special weight at a mile over the Gulfstream Park West dirt. The tw0-year-old colt was coming off a second-place finish in his debut at Gulfstream on October 4, in which he missed by 3/4 lengths as a 30/1 longshot. Last out, he rallied from near the back with a strong closing run. This time, he did it a little differently. Head-and-head with Black Martino for the early lead, he pulled ahead down the backstretch. Black Martino made a move on him in early stretch, and Golden Actor was passed. He was finally asked with a furlong to go, and re-rallied big. He kicked away, and won by 2 1/2 lengths over the closing African Fighter. These first two starts are promising: He ran well as a closer first out, he ran well on the front last out, and he showed good fight when confronted. The future looks bright for this colt.
- Graceful Gal (Cloon, by Lure) – On October 12, Graceful Gal finished fourth beaten 3 1/2 lengths in a New York-bred maiden special weight at a mile over the Belmont grass. The three-year-old filly was racing for the third time, and coming off of a second-place finish at a mile and a sixteenth at that level her previous time out. She chased about three lengths off the lead along the rail for much of the race. She had some acceleration in late going, but it was never quite enough to close up the distance between her and the front — only enough to keep herself about three lengths between her and the new pacesetters. The race was her first attempt on yielding turf. It wasn’t bad, especially since she was a further eight lengths ahead of fifth place, but this suggests she may prefer firmer going.
- Keening (Haka Girl, by War Chant), Maria Maria (Hollow Miss, by With Approval) – On October 11, both Keening and Maria Maria raced in an N3X allowance at a mile and a sixteenth over the soft Keeneland turf. Four-year-old Keening was coming in off of an allowance win at the Spa; three-year-old Maria Maria was coming in off of a third-place finish in the soft, boggy Pucker Up Stakes (GIII) at Arlington. Both Keening and Maria Maria chased near the back, about eight lengths off of Stoptalkingmaria’s early pace. Maria Maria saved ground along the rail; Keening was four wide. Entering the far turn, they were both gaining on the front: Maria Maria still inside, Keening still out. Coming into the stretch, Keening and Maria Maria still had about five lengths each to make up. Keening stayed outside, closing in, but ran out of ground. She finished fourth, beaten three lengths. Maria Maria had angled off the rail through the far turn, found some ground, and made a belated move. She checked in fifth, just a neck behind Keening. It was Keening’s first time on turf that soft, and she showed that though it may not be her favourite, she could acquit herself well. Maria Maria, who had already shown she could fare decently on soft going in the Pucker Up, held her own against the toughest older company she had faced to date.
- Kulik Lodge (Kulik Cat, by Giant’s Causeway) – On October 10, Kulik Lodge won a $62,500 N2X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and an eighth over the Santa Anita grass. The four-year-old colt was in under the allowance condition. He was racing for just the second time this year, and the fourth time of his career. It was also his first race at Santa Anita, and his first past a mile and seventy yards. Kulik Lodge settled into a nice stalking spot early, about two lengths off of pacesetter Ethnic Dance. He started to gain on Ethnic Dance through the far turn, and really engaged him running into the stretch. Ethnic Dance dug in gamely, but Kulik Lodge had a bit more. He started edging away near the sixteenth pole, and pulled away to win by a length. Hopefully Kulik Lodge can keep racing and advancing through his conditions: he hasn’t run a bad race yet, and could e a promising turf runner if he stays sound.
- Lin Marie (Coy Cat, by Hold That Tiger) – On October 8, Lin Marie finished tenth beaten 8 1/2 lengths in an N1X allowance at five and a half furlongs over the Laurel turf. The three-year-old filly was attempting turf for the first time. She broke near the back, and settled a clear last down the backstretch and into the far turn: almost eighteen lengths off the pace. She came outside down the stretch, and ran evenly enough to pass some tiring runners. She did win her maiden race in a dirt sprint from near the back of the pack early, but she had never tried to close from the next ZIP code over, as she did in this race. That was no help, especially at the short distance of this race. Whether she tries turf again next out or returns to the dirt, it would make sense to see her try not to start so far back.
- Lynx (Silver Bird, by Lit de Justice) – On October 11, Lynx won an N1X allowance at a mile and a sixteenth over the Parx dirt. The three-year-old gelding was coming back from being third last time out at the same level, as the overwhelming favourite. Once the pace settled in the clubhouse turn, Lynx had the lead along the rail, with Charlie Manuel stalking just to his outside. Charlie Manuel made a move on him through the far turn, but Lynx cut the corner entering the stretch, and kicked away to win by an easy 5 1/4 lengths. The track was rated sloppy, making this Lynx’s first time racing on dirt rated anything but fast. After this race, it does not appear to be such a bad thing if it rains before Lynx is slated to run.
- Mike the Hab (Hightshift, by St. Jovite) – On October 10, Mike the Hab finished third beaten 9 1/2 lengths in a $12,500-$11,500 claiming race at a mile and an eighth over the Woodbine polytrack. The four-year-old gelding was up for the higher tag. Mike the Hab was out of the gate slowly, and settled about a dozen lengths off the uncontested pace of Silent Scream. He loped along until the far turn, circled outside, and started passing horses. However, by then, Silent Scream was running away with it. He had set glacial fractions on an uncontested lead, and had plenty left to open up and win by 8 1/4 lengths over Rackman. Mike the Hab settled for third. This still seems like the right sort of race for him: the class is right, and he has the stamina for nine furlongs. In this case, he appeared to be more pace-compromised than anything else.
- My Curby (My Baby Baby, by Bernstein) – On October 8, My Curby finished eighth beaten 9 3/4 lengths in a maiden special weight at a mile over the Keeneland gras. It was the two-year-old colt’s second start; he had been second in a six and a half furlong maiden special at Kentucky Downs last month. He settled on the outside about six lengths off the pace, and stayed there for the entire race. He never markedly lost ground, but he never markedly gained it , and did not accelerate as the frontrunners pulled away. It was not quite clear whether he was off that day or just did not like the turf as much as at Kentucky Downs; hopefully he will be sharper next out.
- Prince Curlin (No Small Wonder, by Capote) – On October 7, Prince Curlin finished third beaten 4 1/2 lengths in a $7,500 N2L claiming race at five and a half furlongs over the Parx dirt. The four-year-old gelding was facing winners for the tenth time, and this was his first time hitting the board since breaking his maiden. The field was strung out significantly early, and Prince Curlin settled along the rail about ten lengths off the pace. Around the turn he angled out, and came charging down the centre of the track. He left himself too much to do in order to challenge the top two, but he hustled in well enough to garner the show by a head. After seeing him repeatedly finish up the track at varying distances at Parx at this same level, it was encouraging to see him do this well. He did get a jockey change to Jason Nguyen, though he had ridden Prince Curlin before, making this not a completely new move. Hopefully he will improve upon this, though it is hard to say whether this is a one-off or the beginning of a good trend.
- Sylvia T (Brisquette, by Unbridled’s Song) – On October 11, Sylvia T finished fourth beaten eight lengths in a maiden special weight at Belmont, run at a mile over the sloppy dirt. The race was originally carded for turf, but moved off due to wet conditions. The four-year-old filly, Medal Count’s older half-sister, was racing for the first time since a second-place finish on grass behind Queen Elizabeth II (GI) winner Crown Queen back in June. She settled in to stalk early pacesetter Checkupfromzneckup from about a length behind, and made her move through the turn. She made it within a neck of the front, but could not kick away with the leader as she turned for home. She lost ground, and was passed by two runners who closed in from behind her. She had finished second twice in previous races in muddy or sloppy conditions, though both of those were at Aqueduct, leaving open some chance that she handled the Belmont mud differently. Still, it was her first race after a four-month lay — that’s the Occam’s Razor explanation, and she might well be sharper next out. Still, she is also starting to knock on the door of career maiden status: she has now raced 13 times in maiden specials, with 6 seconds and all but one finish between second and fourth.
- Tres Hermanas (Pretty Meadow, by Meadowlake) – On October 13, Tres Hermanas finished second beaten one length in a $30,000-$25,000 conditioned claiming race at a mile over the Gulfstream Park West grass. The three-year-old filly was up for the higher tag. This was her fifth race overall and her third this year. She cleared N2L as this tag level at Gulfstream two starts back, and tried allowance company last out. She was well beaten, so the move back in for a tag here made sense. She is typically a closer, and did not deviate here. She settled near the back early, about half a dozen lengths off the lead. She started making up ground through the far turn, and started picking off horses in the stretch. She split and had aim on the front, but just had too much to do late given the slow fractions. The longshot early leader faded, but the winner had been in closer, and taken the lead in early stretch. The level here suits her, and this was also her first race over the Gulfstream Park West course. It would make sense to see her in similar company next out.
- Une Cherise (Lady Cerise, by Honor Grades) – On October 8, Une Cherise finished second beaten 3 1/2 lengths in an N1X allowance at about seven furlongs on the Keeneland dirt. It was the three-year-old filly’s first race away from Delaware Park, and her first since breaking her maiden in impressive fashion on August 28. She was just about two lengths off the pace in the early stages, but settled back midpack along the rail. She started to quicken in shallow stretch, but ran into some traffic. She split horses entering the final furlong, but by then Enchanting Lisa was gone. Still, she acquitted herself well given the class rise, and should be well set to try N1X allowance company again next out.
- Wasatch (Judith Basin, by Danzig) – On October 11, Wasatch finished sixth beaten 8 3/4 lengths in a maiden special weight at six and a half furlongs over the Keeneland dirt. The two-year-old filly was making her career debut for trainer Graham Motion. She chased midpack early, five or six lengths off the lead and off the rail. She didn’t muster a rally down the stretch, and ran fairly evenly to the wire. It was just her first race, and the Curlin babies are not necessarily known for their precocity, so hopefully this will teach her a few things and help her improve next out.
- Waynesborough (Bloomy, by Polish Numbers) – On October 13, Waynesborough finished eighth beaten 5 1/2 lengths in a $35,000 starter allowance at a mile and a sixteenth over the Laurel grass. The four-year-old gelding was racing at Laurel for the first time, and had been running at Parx since June. He fell far back early, almost thirty lengths off the pace. He hustled ahead through the far turn and into the stretch, and made up all the ground he could. He just had far too much to do. It’s worth trying him at this class again, even at Laurel, and trying to take him not quite so far back early. Waynesborough is a stone closer, and the pace in front of him was slow enough given the distance that he just left himself too much to do late.
- Baroness Rose (Sandra’s Rose, by Old Trieste) – On October 15, Baroness Rose will run in in an N3L allowance at a mile over the Indiana Grand grass. She drew the 7 gate in a field of ten. The three-year-old filly wheels back from the TaWee Stakes on October 4, along this same distance and course, in which she finished fourth. The drop back to allowance company should help her, and she did clear the N1X condition against older at Indiana Grand two starts back, going seven and a half furlongs over the grass. The class is right, and she should stand a strong chance assuming she can handle the short wheel-back.
- Bold Shot (Soul Search, by A. P. Indy) – On October 16, Bold Shot races in an open $16,000 claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Keeneland dirt. The four-year-old gelding drew the 4 gate in a field of seven. He takes a class drop here, having last raced in a $25,000-$20,000 claiming race at Kentucky Downs. He finished tenth and last in that race, beaten eight lengths. He did break his maiden on dirt back in February, though this will be his first dirt start since then in a race originally carded for dirt. He did run on dirt once in May, finishing second, but it was a splash through the slop at Churchill in a race originally carded for turf. The level seems right, and he has shown he is versatile as to surface.
- Curls in Place (Pola’s Place, by Out of Place) – On October 18, Curls in Place runs in a maiden special weight at five and a half furlongs over the Mountaineer dirt. She drew the 5 gate in a field of nine. The three-year-old filly will be racing for the fourth time of her career, and her first at Mountaineer. She cuts back from her last run at seven and a half furlongs and moves back from turf to dirt. She did try five and a half furlongs before, in her debut at Belterra on July 3. Hopefully she will like the cutback, and maybe she will improve on the new track.
- Inmyfathersimage (Friendly Michelle, by Artax) – On October 14, Inmyfathersimage races in a $16,000 starter allowance at a mile and seventy yards over the Parx dirt. The four-year-old gelding drew the 11 post in a field of 12. takes a definite drop in class; he finished fifth in an allowance at Belmont last out, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by Noble Cornerstone. The post position is not great, but he did win at Parx three back against a much smaller field. The class drop be good here, and hopefully he outruns his 12/1 morning line odds.
- Larrymoeandcurlin (Sally Bowles (SAF), by London News (SAF)) – On October 16, Larrymoeandcurlin runs in a $5,000 maiden claiming race at six furlongs over the Belterra dirt. The three-year-old gelding drew the outermost post of twelve. This will be the lowest level at which he has run to date — a warranted class drop, as he has field to hit the board in nine career starts. His last four have been in claiming company. The post draw is not great, but hopefully he will at least be competitive in this crowd. If he cannot find his place here, he may not be cut out to be a racehorse.
- Sir Nicholas (Emily Ring, by Fit to Fight) – On October 14, Sir Nicholas runs in a maiden special weight at a mile and a sixteenth over the Indiana Grand grass. The three-year-old gelding drew the 8 post in a field of ten. He did finish fourth in maiden special company at Indiana Grand last out, at seven and a half furlongs over the grass. It was a fairly well-beaten fourth, 7 1/4 lengths behind the winner, so it seems questionable as to whether that form will hold in this race. He has gone a mile and a sixteenth before, finishing seventh in his debut, but was fourth next out at a mile and an eighth. Hopefully this distance experience will serve him here.
- Starfire Mist (Misty Lady (ARG), by Lucky Roberto) – On October 16, Starfire Mist will race in a $40,000 N2L starter allowance at a mile over the Golden Gate Fields grass. She drew the 12 gate in a field of 12, plus one also-eligible entry. She did break her maiden over the grass at Golden Gate back in June, going a mile and a sixteenth. She has struggled since winners, and was last ninth at this level last out. That race was a month ago, and she has two works since then. If she does not improve here, it may show that she is a bit over her head in these starter allowance, and should consider going in for the tag again.
- Woelf Den (Gorgeous Goose, by Mongoose) – On October 16, Woelf Den is slated to race in a $12,500 N1x/N2L allowance optional claiming race at six furlongs over the Gulfstream Park West dirt. The three-year-old colt drew the 3 gate in a field of ten runners, and races under the allowance condition. He shipped to Florida over the summer, but got a bit of a rest after an eighth-place finish at Gulfstream on August 10. He has a few works in the interim, and hopefully he returns to run more sharply than he did last out, when he finished a dull eighth at a similar level.
- Danette (Sugar Britches, by Dixieland Band) – Coming off her third place finish in the Chandelier Stakes (GI), trainer Keith Desormeaux is still pointing toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, per the Daily Racing Form’s Jim Dunleavy. It’s an ambitious placement, as Danette is still a maiden. However, her form has markedly improved in her last three starts, and her performance in the Chandelier justifies trying her against similarly tough company. She was competitive there. A lingering question, however, is who will ride her: since Kent Desormeaux is still recovering from recently being kicked by a horse, it is unknown as to whether he will be back in time for the Breeders’ Cup or not.
- Federal Agent (Gwenjinsky, by Seattle Dancer) – On October 8, Federal Agent had been entered in an N1X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth on turf. The race was washed off to the dirt, though that was not the reason for his scratch. However, he was listed as a veterinarian’s scratch from the race. He has not worked back or re-entered since that race. That race would have been his first since breaking his maiden impressively over the Indiana Grand dirt — in another washed-off turf race.
- Liberated (Lady Melesi, by Colonial Affair) – On October 11, Liberated had been entered in an N3X allowance at a mile and a sixteenth over the Keeneland turf — in fact, the same one in which fellow Curlin babies Keening and Maria Maria raced. However, she was on the also eligible list, but she did not draw into the race. It would have been her first start since her seventh place finish in the Pink Ribbon stakes, seven furlongs over the Charles Town dirt. That would not have been her first attempt on the turf, but she has yet to win on the turf. That would have been a tough placement for her, going against such proven turf runners as were in that salty allowance. She has not worked back or re-entered since the weekend.
- Moulin de Mougin (Cambiocorsa, by Avenue of Flags) – Originally, Moulin de Mougin was still pointing toward the Breeders’ Cup, despite her fall in the Rodeo Drive Stakes (GI) last out. As recently as Thursday, it was announced that she was proceeding well toward that goal. However, Saturday trainer Richard Mandella announced that a nuclear scan on Thursday revealed some bone bruising on her shoulder and her stifle. Fortunately, there is no breakage. However, she is going to get six to eight weeks off, and then point to winter races in California.
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!