Curlina Curlina is entered in tomorrow’s Santa Anita opener, a four and a half furlong baby race.
She will be the first member of Curlin’s fourth crop to race.
Do I expect her to win? Not particularly.
Experience is not the issue. After all, the only one in the field who has yet raced is Miss Gridley, who looks as though she will draw in off the AE list after the early scratches. She has only started once. The rest, like Curlina Curlina, all make their debut.
Training is not the issue. Curlina Curlina has worked regularly since late March, with eight published moves so far. She should be fit tomorrow.
My tempered expectations lie more with her trainer and her pedigree.
Trainer Mike Harrington only wins at 7% with first-time starters, and at 8% with runners debuting in maiden special weight company. With a horse who is not necessarily bred to win early, one can let that slide a bit if the trainer has a stellar track record with the young ones. He has had at least some success with the young ones, case in point Creative Cause. However, his recent record with maidens does not suggest a breakout here, especially since her breeding does not suggest precocity.
Curlin babies may win first-out 13% of the time, but they do not tend to be their best at two, much less so early in their two-year-old year. Her dam, Helen’s Echo, is by Swiss Yodeler: this could be interesting since he is a sire who suggests success at two. However, Helen’s Echo herself only raced once, and finished unplaced. She has produced two winners in three starters, but both of those winners took a handful of starts before breaking their maidens. The only one who started at two, Don’t Tell Abbey, did not graduate until earlier this month — her fifth start of her three-year-old year, and her eleventh overall. Four and a half furlongs also seems a bit short. To be fair, sprinting may end up being her game. After all, dam Helen’s Echo is a full sister to Thor’s Echo, who won the Champion Sprinter Eclipse Award in 2006. Even he, though, did not graduate until age three.
Hopefully Curlina Curlina runs well and gets something out of this race. I hope to see something she can build on: something competitive, possibly a race in which she finds her best stride late. However, nothing about Curlina Curlina screams first-out winner. A win would thrill me, but would come as a surprise.