Off the track, Curlin had a great weekend, with Stellar Wind being named his first Champion. However, Curlin had a solid weekend on the track, too. With three winners and four other in-the-money finishers between Saturday and Monday, both the present and the future look bright for his progeny.
Stageplay (Stage Stop, by Valid Expectations) continued her trek down the Kentucky Oaks trail in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds, her three-year-old debut. Despite not quite being able to catch Carina Mia in the Golden Rod (GII) last out, the public still bet her as if she could not lose, hammering her down to 3/5 in the win pool.
This time around, the bettors had the right idea about the grey Curlin filly.
Stageplay tracked a couple of lengths off the pace set by Midnight On Oconee. She sat chilly down the backstretch, but really got going around the far turn. Turning for home, she had drawn even with the leader. Though Midnight On Oconee fought on gamely, and tried all the way to the wire, Stageplay proved too good. She edged clear, and crossed the wire a measured length and a quarter clear of Midnight On Oconee. She got ten points toward the Kentucky Oaks for that effort, and has made her mark on a consistently live Oaks prep circuit.
Stageplay, however, was not the only Curlin baby to go off at 3/5 on Saturday…and not the only one to make good.
Jackie K (Casablanca Babe, by Horse Chestnut) was stepping up from a $10,000-$8,500 N2L claimer at Turf Paradise into an N2L allowance. She had been second in her previous start. Even with the step into protected company, she went off at odds-on.
Her start was a bit rough — not terrible, but not easy. Still, with her 2 post, she tucked in behind Dollemma and Designated Royalty in the early stages. She wanted to go on down the backstretch, and took over as Designated Royalty faded. Dollemma and Weekend Winger tried to give chase, but Jackie K got away. Into the stretch, she opened up almost half a dozen lengths on the field.
Imakittensjoy and Didda Did It tried to get to her in the final stages, but their runs came too late. Jackie K held safely to win by two lengths. It was the four-year-old’s second career win, her first on the grass and her first at two turns. She graduated last July against $30,000 maiden claiming company at Los Alamitos, going six furlongs on the dirt.
Monday, Sakima (Queen of Kills, by Unbridled’s Song) returned to the track. It had been almost exactly a year since he last won. That maiden win came at Oaklawn on January 17 of last year, and came by disqualification. He had missed the board in five starts since, and dropped in for a tag for the first time ever on Monday. Even with the class drop, even with his best previous effort having come over the Oaklawn dirt, Sakima went off at 9.9/1.
Those who believed were well rewarded. Tarasenko grabbed the early lead along the rail, with Sakima, Pat’s Shoes, and Husky Clipper all in the next flight. Down the backstretch, Sakima made an early move to engage Tarasenko. He prompted the grey in the lead, just to his outside, a neck back. They dueled through the far turn, but Sakima found Tarasenko’s limit. Sakima edged clear of that foe, though he then had a late run from California Coast that he had to face. California Coast was charging, but Sakima had just enough. The four-year-old son of Curlin pressed on toward the wire, and got home a game head in front of his foe to the outside.
Stageplay, Jackie K, and Sakima were the only Curlin babies to win over the long weekend, but a few more hit the board, with some in stakes company.
On Saturday, Ride On Curlin (Magical Ride, by Storm Cat) raced in the Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds. Behind horses coming down the stretch, he started to come through an opening between Coup de Grace and Majestic Harbor. The five-year-old son of Curlin got shut off badly when Coup de Grace came in, and Majestic Harbor came out. He got bumped repeatedly. But, he still kept trying. His momentum was compromised enough that he had no chance to catch International Star or Eagle, but he was game enough to rally for the show over Coup de Grace.
On Sunday, six-year-old mare Theogony (Upcoming Story, by Tale of the Cat) made her second dirt start in the Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn. She acquitted herself well in her first dirt try, finishing second behind Ahh Chocolate in the Grade II Falls City Handicap on Thanksgiving weekend. She was near the back of a relatively compact field early, sitting about four or five lengths off the pace set by longshot Tosha Tolifero. Cabana, Ribbon of Darkness, and Cash Control, who had all shown early lead in the past, did not give Tosha Talifero real pace pressure.
Still, Theogony fired. She inched ahead as the field approached the far turn, then circled the field on the turn for home. She closed up the distance between her and the stalking flight, and caught up with Tosha Talifero. However, up-and-coming Illinois-bred Streamline just fired a little better. Streamline got through an opening through the field, kept her head in front of Theogony, and got the win by a neck. Still, it was a strong enough performance from Theogony to suggest she belongs at Oaklawkn, and belongs on dirt.
Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs, Garden Games (Garden Gloves, by Stormy Atlantic) also found her way to the podium. She was dropping into the lowest level of her career, a $16,000 N3L, and the public sent her off at odds-on in a field of five. However, she ran into something dangerous at any level: speed in a short field. After a host of off-turf scratches, only five saw the starter, and Indian Chaser got her way on the front end. Krista’s Persona tried to make a move on Indian Chaser approaching the stretch, but Indian Chaser got away again.
Sitting midpack, Garden Games did finally fire, but it only got her up for second, five and a half lengths behind the wire-to-wire winner. Still, it suggests that Garden Games has found her proper class level. She was claimed out of that start. She goes to new owner Happy Tenth Stable, and new trainer John J. Tammaro, III.
Today’s Fair Grounds fifth, a maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies going a mile and seventy yards on the main, featured a pair of Curlin daughters. Cced (Chantel D, by Holy Bull) made her debut in the race. Miss Curlin (Cherryblossommiss, by Langfuhr) had raced twice before at Fair Grounds, both times at a similar level, but been well beaten.
Unfortunately, the race was more of the same for Miss Curlin. She started poorly, lagged well off the pace, and never got involved. She finished ninth, and last.
The story was a little different for Cced.
Cced broke sharply out of the 3 gate, and tucked quickly along the rail. Favoured Abundant Flurry, to her outside, settled in front of Cced going into the clubhouse turn. Rider Florent Geroux got Cced off the rail into the backstretch, stalking about a length behind Abundant Flurry. Cced quickened into the far turn, but Abundant Flurry picked up right along with her. Wide through the turn, Cced lost a bit of ground, but never let Abundant Flurry out of her sights.
Coming into the final furlong, Cced finally found her best stride. She started closing the gap on the leader, but the run came just too late. Abundant Flurry hit the wire just a neck ahead of Cced — though Cced finished eight and a half lengths clear of third-place Kyles Marigold.
Cced showed promise in her debut. She showed gameness, she showed that she wanted two turns — and she should be a filly to watch going forward.
All in all, this weekend was a good one for the Curlin babies. With three winners, and a few other strong in-the-money performances, it should bode well for another big year for Curlin as a sire.