Over the last week and a half, three Curlin babies have joined the ranks of the winners.
Curalina (Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight last summer at Saratoga. Despite some trouble in her trip and some issues switching leads, she still finished a clear second behind High Dollar Woman. Behind her finished Paulassilverlining, now a graded stakes winner, as well as graded stakes placed Skipalute. She entered the Spinaway (GI), but was scratched. The suggestion at the time was that she would race in a maiden special weight at Belmont that fall, but instead she went on the shelf for the winter. The three-year-old filly finally resurfaced on March 28, in a seven-furlong maiden special for three-year-old fillies at Gulfstream.
Curalina settled about two lengths off the pace early, letting a group of four decide amongst themselves who would take the lead. As the field approached the far turn, Bird Sense took to the front. Coming into that turn, Curalina and another, Eastern Rose, began to advance on Bird Sense. Eastern Rose drew even first, with Curalina running at her flank.
Turning for home Bird Sense retreated, leaving Curalina in a race of her own against Eastern Rose. She pulled even with her adversary approaching the sixteenth pole. Though Eastern Rose dug in, Curalina proved herself better that day. She edged clear in the final sixteenth, crossing the wire a length best.
The time to grow into herself paid off, and Curalina came back ready to run first off the layoff. Six furlongs may not even turn out her best distance; her dam was graded stakes placed at two turns, as is her half-sister Dream Spinner. Though the Kentucky Oaks trail has passed her by, she may mark herself an exciting prospect for three-year-old fillies’ stakes later in the year. Her entry last year in the Spinaway suggests someone saw that in her, and time only seems to help the progeny of Curlin.
Later on March 28, Atomicseventynine (Western Hemisphere, by General Meeting) headed postward in a $50,000-$40,000 maiden claiming race at Santa Anita, going a mile on the dirt. The three-year-old daughter of Curlin had started twice before in maiden special weight sprints at the Great Race Place, but finished off the board in both starts. She dropped into the claiming ranks for the first time, and also made her first attempt going two turns.
Gracie Jean outbroke Atomicseventynine, but the three-year-old daughter of Curlin had the advantage of a rail draw. Gracie Jean went a little wide into the first turn; Jockey Aaron Gryder kept her well along the rail, and she had a length lead by the halfway point of the clubhouse turn. A strung-out pack entering the backstretch became a tighter one nearing the far turn, but Atomicseventynine maintained her advantage. Through the turn she started to increase her lead slightly, but challengers arose. Kristinite approached from the inside; Twinkle Toes bore down outside.
Atomicseventynine had more run. She edged ahead of them turning for home, found her best stride in the last sixteenth, and crossed the wire 5 1/4 lengths clear of Kristinite and Twinkle Toes.
The drop to claiming company helped her here; the field lacked the tougher likes of Fantastic Style. Still, a few other things changed. This was her first race on the lead, and that style suited her. Furthermore, the way she ran late suggested that the stretchout also contributed to her improvement. She worked back on April 8, and hopefully she turns up in another two-turn race soon.
A few days later, on April 2, Rebel Spy (Private Status, by Alydar) returned to the racetrack. This five-year-old Curlin gelding was making his ninth start, but his first in two months, and his first in maiden claiming company. He had hit the board twice in those eight previous starts. Both of those came at Pimlico, though one was a sprint and the other a route. He returned in a six-furlong sprint, in a field of six $16,000 maiden claimers.
Rebel Spy broke well, and settled about a length and a half off the pace set by Whisky Rock. Through the far turn, he fell to about two lengths back; Star Academy got up for second position on the outside. Rider Horacio Karamanos did not panic. He bided his time, waiting to make his move with Rebel Spy.
Turning for home, Karamanos asked his mount for run. He got going, angled out, and took his shot at Whisky Rock from the outside. Passing the furlong pole, Rebel Spy got his head in front. Whisky Rock tried to keep on, but Rebel Spy edged ahead and crossed the wire a length and a half in front.
The drop to maiden claiming company worked for Rebel Spy, and he again showed where he did his best running. Rebel Spy has already been entered for his first start against winners: April 12, he goes this same six-furlong distance against $15,000 N2L company. The race takes place over that familiar, favourite course: Pimlico.
Congratulations to Curalina, Atomicseventynine, and Rebel Spy!