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, Sookie cleared the N1X condition at Penn National, and She’s Curly finished a very game second in quite an anomalous event in horse racing nowadays: a match race. Coming up this week Curlino tries a route of ground for the first time at Keeneland, and Curlin Crush, Ostentatious Me, and Sir Nicholas all try to graduate to the ranks of the winners.
There is a fun little pedigree note about two of the Curlin babies racing this week who are very closely related, as closely related as Palace Malice and Whisper to Curlin are. Two-year-old colt Curlin Crush, who makes his second start this coming week, is out of a Mineshaft mare named Secret Source. Secret Source is out of Gwenjinsky, a Seattle Dancer mare. Her name may be familiar to careful readers of this week in Curlin babies as the dam of Federal Agent, a four-year-old gelding who gets his first crack against winners this week.
Without further ado, let’s see what Curlin’s runners have been doing on the track lately!
- Bold Shot (Soul Search, by A. P. Indy) – On October 16, Bold Shot finished seventh beaten 17 1/2 lengths in an open $16,000 claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over a sloppy dirt track at Keeneland. The four-year-old gelding broke slowly, was at the back of the pack throughout, and never fired. He has run in slop once before, finishing a good second in N2L company back on May 10, closing into slow fractions. This was a class drop from his last race, in which he was tenth and last in $25,000 company at Kentucky Downs. These two straight last-place finishes are a bit worrisome; he did better against conditioned company at Ellis, and may need to shift away from these tougher boutique meets.
- Copperplate (Verdana Bold, by Rahy) – On October 19, Copperplate finished sixth beaten 18 1/2 lengths in an N1X allowance at six furlongs over the Keeneland dirt. The three-year-old colt contended for the lead early, but was outgunned by Texas Two Step along the rail. He chased the pace from a few lengths back into the turn, but lost ground through there and faded out of it. He has seemed to like the lead — he won his maiden victory in a wire job, and gunned for the lead last out as well before fading. This was also only his second dirt race; three of his starts, including his maiden win, have been over grass. He is the first of his dam’s progeny to race, but Verdana Bold herself was quite versatile: she won on dirt, turf, and polytrack. It will be interesting to see if he tries dirt again next out, or goes back to the turf.
- Garden Games (Garden Gloves, by Stormy Atlantic) – On October 16, Garden Games finished second beaten two lengths in a maiden special weight at a mile over the Remington Park dirt. The two-year-old filly was at the back of the pack early, but made a long, sustained outside run. She confronted and overtook early leader Bernstein’s Dream as the field turned for home, but was overtaken in the final sixteenth by a fast-closing Tell All on her outside. This is her third straight on-the-board finish in maiden special company at Remington. She is showing talent, and hopefully she will graduate soon.
- Inmyfathersimage (Friendly Michelle, by Artax) – On October 14, Inmyfathersimage finished fifth beaten 6 1/4 lengths in a $16,000 starter allowance at a mile and seventy yards over the Parx dirt. The four-year-old gelding was dropping in class after a fifth-place finish in an allowance at Belmont on September 27. He started poorly, breaking slowly and veering outside from his 11 post. He settled near the back of the pack, but started to advance along the rail. He hit a bit of traffic coming into the far turn, and ran fairly evenly inside to finish fifth. The start may have hurt him a bit; he lost a lot of ground, and the fractions in front of him were quite slow. He is usually a close-stalking type, though has won from farther back as well — suggesting the start and the split times were more of a factor than his early position.
- Larrymoeandcurlin (Sally Bowles (SAF), by London News (SAF)) – On October 16, Larrymoeandcurlin was fifth beaten 8 1/4 lengths in a $5,000 maiden claiming race at six furlongs over the Belterra dirt. The three-year-old gelding was racing for the first time over a muddy track. He stalked fairly close to the pace early, only about two lengths off on the outside as the field came down the backstretch. He could not keep up with the speedier Dr Loco Lococo or Bright Bullet as they pulled away, though; he faded down the stretch. Still, this was one of his better races after coming back from the lay; the class drop suited him. It would make sense to see him try at this level again.
- Miss Frost (Allencat, by Storm Cat) – On October 17, Miss Frost finished eighth beaten six lengths in the Valley View Stakes (GIII), run at a mile an a sixteenth over the Keeneland turf. The three-year-old filly was racing for the first time outside of New York, and in her first graded event. She broke well and got in a stalking place early, but was three wide through the clubhouse turn due to her outside post. Down the backstretch she was in the mix, stalking just a length off the pace set by Spring Included. She got within a neck through the far turn, but faded out through the stretch. It was likely the condition of the turf that caused her to falter. The turf was rated “good”. She had not been quite the same horse in her previous outings on good turf, compared to how she runs over firm going. That notion was confirmed on Twitter by Dan Stupp, assistant trainer for Tom Albertrani, who stated that she was sinking in the softer course. It will be good to see her come back; hopefully she returns in a graded stakes soon, but over firmer grass.
- Reversiontothemean (Jet Setting, by Forestry) – On October 17, Reversiontothemean finished 10th beaten 59 1/2 lengths in a $16,000 N1X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Meadowlands grass. She was in for the tag, but not claimed out of the race. She broke well, and quickly gained the lead despite her outside post. She was stalked closely by Hardly at first, but able to settle on an uncontested lead. Approaching the far turn, though, she abruptly bore out, and the field passed her by. I just hope she’s okay: she was setting slow enough fractions on the lead that she probably would have had a chance had she not completely lost her nerve and borne out. She had regularly raced, and raced well, at Suffolk; hopefully she comes out of this race healthy, and finds another track to call home.
- Sheikinator (Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) – On October 17, Sheikinator finished second beaten 3 1/4 lengths in a $50,000 N2L claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Keeneland dirt. The three-year-old colt was making his first start since May 23. He settled back early, almost half a dozen lengths off the pace. He fired approaching the turn for home, but it was too little, too late: he circled the field and caught the rest, but there was too much to do to catch Purple Sky, who had drawn away. Still, it was a creditable first race back from a five-month lay, and he should be sharper next out.
- She’s Curly (Mo Cheoil Thu (IRE), by In the Wings (GB)) – On October 17, She’s Curly finished second beaten a neck in a $35,000 N3L starter allowance at a mile over the Laurel dirt. The race had been originally carded for turf, but was washed off. Due to off-turf scratches, the race ended up a match race between Sky Given and She’s Curly. She’s Curly broke sharply, but Sky Given got the advantage by about half a length by the time the field left the one-mile chute. She’s Curly stalked along the rail, saving ground. Into the far turn, it was Sky Given by about two lengths. She’s Curly swung outside, and came at Sky Given as the field turned for home. She fought gamely, and made it a challenge, but Sky Given kept her neck in front all the way to the wire. It is doubtful that she will ever run a match race again. Though she was defeated, she still ran a sharp race, and performed well given the bizarre circumstance.
- Sookie (Island Escape, by Petionville) – On October 17, Sookie won a Pennsylvania-bred N1X allowance at a mile and a sixteenth over the Penn National dirt, holding on to take it by a neck. This was her third race: she dazzled in her debut at Parx, winning by 14, but bounced and finished sixth last out. The three-year-old filly broke sharply, settled on the lead, and quickly put daylight between her and the rest of the field. She maintained that advantage into the stretch, but History Book fired with a strong closing run from the outside. She was gaining on Sookie with every stride, but the wire came just in time. It’s hard to tell because she has not tried another style yet, but so far Sookie looks like a speed horse. Her next out will likely be a class jump no matter what, to either open N1X or state-bred N2X; we will see if she gets the frontrunning place she needs, or can possibly show another dimension.
- Starfire Mist (Misty Lady (ARG), by Lucky Roberto) – On October 16, Starfire Mist finished second beaten a nose in a $40,000 N2X starter allowance at a mile over the Golden Gate Fields grass. The three-year-old filly was a disappointing ninth at this level last out, so it was good to see her look like she is rounding back into form. She broke from the outermost gate, and chased wide about six lengths off the early pace. She started making up ground in the stretch, and was flying on the outside in the final furlong. She eclipsed early pacesetter Elegant Bel, but missed catching Neversaynever (who had been stalking) by the scantest of noses. It was a sharp run, and she far outran the 31/1 odds at which the public let her off.
- Thats Our Princess (Princess Ruckus, by Bold Ruckus) – On October 19, Thats Our Princess finished ninth beaten 20 lengths in the Ontario Fashion Stakes (GIII). The four-year-old filly was trying graded company for the first time since last year, and coming in off of a sixth-place finish in allowance company. She was hustled to the front of the pack, and stalked early leader Cryptic Message from about a length and a half back. Coming through the turn, though, she had nothing left and plummeted out of contention. Her performance confirmed my fears going into it, that this placement was at best ambitious and at worst foolhardy. She had been struggling in allowances this year; putting her against the likes of Disco Barbie and Native Bombshell made no sense. Hopefully she comes out of the race okay, and runs against more suitable company next out.
- Woelf Den (Gorgeous Goose, by Mongoose) – On October 16, Woelf Den finished fourth beaten five lengths in a $12,500 Florida-bred N1X allowance optional claiming race at six furlongs over the Gulfstream Park West dirt. The three-year-old colt was in under the allowance condition. This was his first race in about two months, and his first race since moving from the Martin Wolfson barn to the Jose Garoffalo barn. He dropped back to another ZIP code, almost twenty lengths back early. He gradually made up ground, and really got rolling down the stretch. He was flying in on the outside, but it was too little too late to threaten those who hit the board. Still, it was a strong enough closing run to suggest the bit of time off and the trainer change did him good, and it was his best race since shipping to Florida.
- Curlin Crush (Secret Source, by Mineshaft) – On October 22, Curlin Crush is entered to run in a maiden special weight at a mile and a sixteenth over the Keeneland dirt. The two-year-old colt drew the 3 gate in a field of nine. It will be his first try on the dirt; his only other race was a seventh-place finish going six furlongs over the grass at Kentucky Downs. He was near the back of the pack and never really fired over the grass; hopefully the dirt will be more to his liking.
- Curlin N Twirlin (Bluff for Bluff, by Pine Bluff) – On October 22, Curlin N Twirlin races in a $35,000 N3L starter allowance at six furlongs over the Laurel dirt. The four-year-old filly will be running at Laurel for the first time Both of her wins have been in dirt sprints, one at six furlongs and one at seven, so that makes sense. The level may be a bit stiff for her right now, though, as she was struggling in claiming ranks at Penn National that were lower than the starter price for this race.
- Curlino (Comfort Zone, by Rubiano) – On October 22, Curlino is entered in a maiden special weight at a mile and a sixteenth over the dirt at Keeneland. The two-year-old colt drew the rail in a field of nine. This will be his second start; last out, he was caught wide and closing into very slow fractions. That was at six and a half furlongs; his breeding suggests that going a bit longer than that should be his bag. Between that and trainer Mark Casse’s strong record with second-time starters and first-time routers, he stands a strong chance of graduating here.
- Dyker Beach (Favorite Feather, by Capote) – On October 24, Dyker Beach is slated to run in an N1X/N2L allowance at six furlongs over the Belmont dirt. The four-year-old gelding drew the 5 gate in a field of ten He races under the N1X condition, as his two wins to date have come in a maiden claiming race and a starter allowance. Last out he finished fourth in a starter optional claiming race at seven furlongs over sloppy Belmont dirt; it was not a bad fourth, though, as he was part of a four-way blanket finish between second and fifth. His starter allowance win came at this six-furlong distance, and he stands to like the cutback.
- Federal Agent (Gwenjinsky, by Seattle Dancer) – On October 22, Federal Agent is entered in a $25,000 claiming race at seven and a half furlongs over the Indiana Downs grass. The four-year-old gelding drew the rail in a field of ten, plus one main track only entry and one also-eligible. This will be his first race since he broke his maiden on September 12, in his seventeenth start. That race was a $15,000 maiden claiming affair at a mile and a sixteenth over dirt, though it had originally been carded for turf, and he waltzed home a dozen lengths the best. He had been entered in an N1X allowance optional claiming race at Indiana Grand in the meantime, but was a vet scratch. Even $25,000 N2L company is a significant step up from the field he beat, though hopefully his maiden win suggests that the light is on.
- Lin Marie (Coy Cat, by Hold That Tiger) – On October 25, 2014, Lin Marie will race in an N1X/N2L allowance at six and a half furlongs over the Parx dirt. The three-year-old filly drew the 7 gate in the nine-horse field. She stretches out from her last race, a five and a half furlong turf dash, and moves back to the dirt. That race was her first turf attempt. She did break her maiden over dirt, though at Penn National. This will be her first race at Parx. She has no recent recorded works over the Parx surface, so it remains to be seen how she handles that sometimes quirky track.
- Ostentatious Me (Gorgeous Me, by Big Spruce) – On October 22, Ostentatious Me races in a $15,000 maiden claiming race at a mile and an eighth over the Keeneland dirt. The three-year-old colt drew the 8 gate in a field of eleven. He will be dropping to the lowest level of his career. The drop is warranted, as he has done no better than third place in six starts, and no better than fifth this year. He has three times before raced at this mile and an eighth distance; his best finish going nine furlongs was fourth. Hopefully the easier company will suit him, and trainer Ken McPeek tends to do well at Keeneland.
- Sir Nicholas (Emily Ring, by Fit to Fight) – On October 23, Sir Nicholas runs in a $30,000 maiden claiming race at seven and a half furlongs over the Indiana Grand grass. The three-year-old gelding drew the rail in a field of eight. He drops back into the claiming ranks after a fourth-place finish in maiden special company at Indiana Grand last out, on September 24. That last start was at the same distance and surface as this race, and all three starts to date have been on turf. Hopefully this proves to be the right level for him.
- Wise Minister (Take a Check, by Touch Gold) – On October 22, Wise Minister runs in a $25,000 N2X allowance optional claiming race at a mile and seventy yards over the Penn National dirt. The three-year-old colt races under the allowance condition, and drew the 4 gate of ten in the field. Last out he made his Penn National debut a winning one, clearing the N1X condition at a mile and a sixteenth over the dirt on September 18. This will be a step up in class, but the course, distance, and level are all right on target.
- Baroness Rose (Sandra’s Rose, by Old Trieste) – Baroness Rose, a three-year-old filly, had been slated to race in an N3L allowance on October 15 at Indiana Grand, going a mile over the turf. However, the entire card was cancelled after the accident-marred 8th race the day before that claimed the lives of Juan Saez, Masaru, and Platitude. Baroness Rose worked back on October 18, breezing a bullet four furlongs in 47 seconds flat. She has not been re-entered in a race.
- Belisama (Bavarian Belle, by More Than Ready) – On October 18, Belisama had been entered in a $50,000 maiden claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth over the Keeneland dirt. However, the three-year-old filly was a trainer scratch. She has not worked back or entered back since that race. It would have been her second career race, and a drop to maiden claiming; she was a well-beaten fifth in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on September 14.
- Curls in Place (Pola’s Place, by Out of Place) – On October 18, Curls in Place had been entered in a maiden special weight at five and a half furlongs over the Mountaineer dirt. However, the three-year-old filly was a veterinarian’s scratch from the race. It would have been a step back up to special weight company after a sixth-place finish in claiming company at Indiana Grand in her previous outing. She posted a work on October 18 at The Thoroughbred Center, going five furlongs in 1:02.00, third of sixteen at the distance that day.
- Sir Nicholas (Emily Ring, by Fit to Fight) – On October 14, Sir Nicholas had been slated to run in a maiden special weight at a mile and a sixteenth over the Indiana Downs grass. However, the race was cancelled after the fatal accident in the race before it. The three-year-old gelding has been re-entered this week, as detailed in the Running Soon section.
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!