Curlin’s Gem (A Little Gem, by Yonaguska) debuted last March, going six furlongs over the Gulfstream dirt. He finished fifth that day, but has the worst of a three-way blanket finish for the show. It was a perfectly decent race for a first time out, and for a first-time starter going off at 33/1.
After that, he shipped to the Great White North. He tried both turf and poly at Woodbine; he tried sprints and routes. Two turns did not agree with him. Still, in his three sprint tries on polytrack and turf, he tried. He finished off the board, but was never too far out of third, and always finishing with interest. Sprints looked like where he wanted to be, but something else needed to change to get him to break through.
In November, he found his way south again. His ownership was the same, but he had moved from the barn of Sid Attard to that of Martin Wolfson. The public sent him off favoured in a one-mile maiden special weight over the slop at Gulfstream Park West on November 21. He was forwardly placed in the slop that day, but a pace battle with No Monkeyin Around and Classic Brew took its toll. He had the lead in early stretch…but Classic Brew overtook him to win, and Hy Quality Prince nailed him late for second.
Today he dropped into a $50,000 maiden claimer at Gulfstream, and cut back to six furlongs. It was not his first time in for a tag; he had tried maiden $50,000 once at Woodbine as well, finishing fifth at seven furlongs over poly. This time, he had returned to a dirt sprint — something he had not tried since his debut last March.
Today, Curlin’s Gem put together the pieces.
He stalked along the rail in the second flight as Bold Summit set the pace. Though he was a bit loose on the lead, almost three lengths ahead at one point, Bold Summit set some snappy early fractions. Coming into the far turn, Curlin’s Gem started to advance. Curlin’s Gem separated himself from the pack through the far turn, and inched toward that pacessetter. He drew even near the quarter pole, and really opened up near the furlong pole. Curlin’s Gem had more than enough in hand to best the rallying All the Way by three easy lengths.
It makes sense that Curlin’s Gem figured it out in a dirt sprint. His dam, A Little Gem, garnered all three of her career wins in dirt sprints, including a win in the six-furlong Sorority Stakes at Monmouth in 2007. His only other half sibling to race so far, an Unbridled’s Song gelding named Papa G. T., also made his only career score going six panels. Though that win was on the Del Mar polytrack, he then piled up a series of three second-place finishes in dirt sprint allowances in late 2012 and early 2013.
This win makes it a particularly good month for Curlin babies in this female family. Curlin’s Gem dam, A Little Gem, is a daughter of the Meadowlake mare Dignified Diva. Dignified Diva herself has a daughter by Curlin — four-year-old filly Wind Racer, who broke her maiden impressively at Gulfstream on January 7.