a familiar strain, and a breakthrough

On December 18 of last year, in a maiden special weight at Laurel, Wasatch (Judith Basin, by Danzig) went off the odds-on favourite.  She finished second that day, 8 1/4 lengths behind a fellow Curlin baby, and an eventual multiple graded stakes winner: Stellar Wind (Evening Star, by Malibu Moon).  That was Wasatch’s third start.  Since then, she had started three more times before today.  She came as close as ever on June 6 at Delaware, when she tried that track for the first time.  That day, she finished second beaten just a head.

In today’s Delaware Park 4th, Wasatch faced another daughter of Curlin: Curlish Figure (Fi, by Langfuhr).

Leading into that race, Curlish Figure had not quite gotten it together yet.  In four previous starts, she had not yet hit the board.  In her last start, April 18 at Tampa Bay, she had gone off the favourite — with another Curlin baby in the field, no less.  She finished fourth, 1 3/4 lengths behind her stablemate Split It (Yoursmineours, by Belong to Me).  Unlike Stellar Wind, Split It has not yet breathed the rarefied air of graded stakes glory.  She has not yet returned from her maiden win, though a regular worktab at Delaware suggests she may be returning soon.

Originally carded for turf, the race was washed onto fast dirt.  Only four runners remained to see the starter, including both Wasatch and Curlish Figure.  Upstate Bird and Night Sky took the front early, but Wasatch rushed up to join them three wide into the first turn.  Curlish Figure held the rail about two lengths back, content to stalk.  The frontrunning trio exchanged the lead down the backstretch: first Upstate Bird had it, then Wasatch, then Night Sky.  Approaching the far turn Upstate Bird began to fade.  Wasatch battled with Night Sky.

Curlish Figure began a smooth and confident advance as the field approached the apex of the far turn.  She passed Wasatch and Night Sky near the quarter pole, and had opened daylight by the time the field turned for home.  Wasatch could not respond.  No one could.  Curlish Figure drew away to win by 17 lengths.  Wasatch and Night Sky had their own race for place, one that Wasatch lost by a neck.

For Wasatch, today’s race sounded a refrain she knew all too well, a tune she can hopefully change soon.

For Curlish Figure, today proved that the light had come on, that stardom may lie in her future.

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