another Curlin baby on the Oaks trail?

Curlin already has a marquee Oaks contender at the Fair Grounds with Stageplay.  After today, he may have another one at Oaklawn — with one of Stageplay’s stablemates in the Steve Asmussen barn.

Terra Promessa (Missile Bay, by Yes It’s True) raced twice last year, both times in maiden company.  After a poor start on debut, she rallied in between horses to finish third, beaten just half a length for all of it.  That came in a seven-furlong maiden race on the Keeneland dirt.

Terra Promessa returned a month later a Churchill, stretched out to a mile and a sixteenth.  She stalked off early leader Scat Lady, affixed to her outside flank.  She edged even with the early leader through the far turn, and got the front turning for home.  Alotta Skirt made a sharp move through the field, and found a credible run, but it was not quite enough.  Terra Promessa had enough in the tank to hold safe by a length.

She returned to the worktab at Fair Grounds in mid-December, and recorded regular four- and five-furlong drills through the winter.  She made her way to Oaklawn in January.  After turning in her two most recent works over that course, she was entered against winners for the first time today.  Just like the maiden race she won, today’s N1X allowance test came at a mile and a sixteenth over the dirt.

The public sent Terra Promessa off at 3/5.  She ran to those odds, and then some.

Sensuous Pat struck the front early.  Terra Promessa sat wide early, but settled easily behind the leader.  About a length and a half off through the far turn, she inched closer down the backstretch.  She did so comfortably, without being asked.

Passing the half-mile pole, rider Ricardo Santana let out her rein just a tad.  Still wide, Terra Promessa gained on Sensuous Cat and Richwood, who was also making a move at the leader.  She eased ahead of them, and had two lengths on the field by the time she entered the stretch.

Inside the three-sixteenths pole, as Cold Dish kicked on, Ricardo Santana finally asked Terra Promessa.  She responded immediately, and drew off with authority.  He just let her cruise through the final furlong, and they crossed the wire nine lengths clear of a rallying Cold Dish.

After a win like today’s, Terra Promessa deserves a shot against stakes company.  A step up in class had clearly been in her connections’ sights, as the Stonestreet homebred had been nominated for the Martha Washington Stakes.  Her connections entered here instead, she rewarded them with a win.  She likes two turns, she likes Oaklawn, and  hopefully this will punch her ticket to the Grade III Honeybee Stakes next month.

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