Yesterday was a triple-header of Curlin babies action down at Gulfstream Park. Two horses, Wind Racer and Dreaming of Frank, were making their career debuts. A third, Ol Donyo, was already a multiple stakes winner; she returned to try and add to her laurels in the Miami Shores Handicap.
Four-year-old filly Wind Racer (Dignified Diva, by Meadowlake) headed postward first, in a six-furlong maiden special weight. The Martin Wolfson trainee, racing in the Stonestreet colours, had been working at Gulfstream since November. Word had it that her works had been quite good, and she was sent out the 7/10 favourite in a field of seven.
The public was right.
Rider Javier Castellano sent Wind Racer early, but she had to steady early behind the pair of Lovely and Frank’s Star. He got her settled about two lengths off that pair, and stayed there as the field approached the far turn. Midway through that turn Lovely began to fade. Wind Racer, however, was just getting ready to roll. She angled outside, confronted Frank’s Star, and poked her head in front in shallow stretch. That foe briefly tried to challenge, but Wind Racer was too good. In hand, she pulled away and prevailed by five lengths. This made her the first runner out of her dam Dignified Diva to win first time out, and she should be formidable when she returns to try her next condition.
The seventh race on Wednesday saw the debut of Dreaming of Frank (Debt Free, by Fly So Free). This three-year-old colt had been working at Gulfstream since mid-November, and debuted in a six-furlong Florida-bred maiden special weight. The Michael Petro trainee went off an 11/1 outsider in the field of nine.
Dreaming of Frank’s beginning was not quite as auspicious as Wind Racer’s, and a bit disappointing given that two of his half-siblings have won first out. He was bumped early, and settled at the back of the pack coming down the backstretch. It looked as though rider Luis Saez was trying to urge him on approaching the far turn, but he never made up much ground with the field. In fact, he steadily lost ground, and finished eighth beaten seventeen lengths. It remains to be seen if, next time out, he will have a better race if he gets a better start.
Finally, Ol Donyo (Royal Tigress, by Storm Cat) returned to the track in the seven-furlong Miami Shores Handicap. The Martin Wolfson trainee was stretching out from a six-furlong attempt last out. In that race, the Sugar Swirl Stakes (GIII), she was just getting into her best stride late and finished third: her first career placing in a graded event. She was already a stakes winner going seven panels at Gulfstream; she splashed home a winner in the Musical Romance Stakes back in September. Still, this five-year-old mare is no pure slop monster; she won the Zaftig Stakes at a mile over fast Belmont dirt last year — kicking away from odds-on favourite Flash Forward (herself a Curlin baby!) to win by two lengths. It looked like a strong spot for her.
She settled in the second flight early, about two lengths off the duelling pair of Wedding Toast and Best Behavior. Through the far turn, she was able to keep her spot two lengths behind them, as that trio separated itself from the rest of the field. She maintained plenty of daylight between herself and the rest of the field, but could not quite shut the gap between herself and the leaders. Favoured Wedding Toast edged away to prevail by a length and a quarter over Best Behavior, with Ol Donyo finishing third beaten three and a half. It was a bit disappointing that Ol Donyo could not make a dent given the contested early pace scenario, and hopefully she breaks her string of third-place finishes soon.