Stageplay: another promising juvenile Curlin baby

Stageplay (Stage Stop, by Valid Expectations) was no secret going into her maiden race.  The two-year-old grey had a solid string of works going into her October 10 unveiling.  She went off favoured in a field of ten for a maiden special weight going six and a half furlongs on the Keeneland dirt.  She proved ready.  Stageplay stalked in the second flight, made a sweeping move around the turn, ran down longtime leader Carina Mia, and won by three widening lengths.

Today, Stageplay became the third stakes winner from Curlin’s fourth crop — winning a race named after the filly who defeated her sire in the Belmont.

She stretched to a one-turn mile in the Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs today.  The public figured she would take to the stretch out, and sent her off at 3/5.  Sensuous Pat bumped Stageplay a bit at the start, but it did not impede her ability to get quickly into good stride.  She tracked a few lengths off the early pace, on the outside, comfortably biding her time.  Stageplay advanced through the turn, struck the front in shallow stretch, and opened up daylight between her and the field.  Dream Dance and Family Tree tried to run at her, but Stageplay held safe to win by a length and a half.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said after the race that she would likely contest the Golden Rod (GII) next.  It makes sense: it got a second race under her, and it showed she could handle the Churchill Downs dirt surface well.

Her dam, Stage Stop, was a stakes winner going a mile on grass at age two, suggesting her precocity may have come from underneath on her pedigree.  Stageplay is not the first Stage Stop baby to win a stakes race at age two: She Digs Me (Henny Hughes) won both the Tyro S. and the Sapling S. (GIII) in 2011.  Both of those races were sprints.  However, another of her dam’s progeny showed route prowess early.  Mylute (Midnight Lute) still seeks his first stakes win, but he was three times stakes-placed at age two.  Those included a second-place finish in the one-mile Jean Lafitte S., as well as a third-place finish in the Delta Downs Jackpot S. (GIII) at a mile and a sixteenth.

Stage Stop has produced two other runners, neither of whom ran at two.  Springsteen Road (Street Boss) broke her maiden second time out, in February of her three-year-old year.  Three-year-old Wine Train (Tiz Wonderful) remains a maiden after three starts this year.

Stageplay’s form and her pedigree bode well for the stretch out for the 1 1/16 mile Golden Rod Stakes at the end of the month.  Times are still early, but that race could be her first step on the 2016 Kentucky Oaks trail.

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