another great weekend for Curlin babies!

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.

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Picks and Ponderings: Rebel Stakes Day

After the frenetic cross-country road trip at Picks and Ponderings last week, Paul and I stay in one place for this weekend’s stakes preview.  It is Rebel Stakes day at Oaklawn Park, and there are three graded stakes races on the docket.  We preview all three.

I take a look at the Rebel Stakes (GII), the next of the Kentucky Derby preps in Hot Springs.  The race features the return of American Pharoah.  The field also includes two sons of 2007 Rebel Stakes hero Curlin: Sakima makes his stakes debut, and Bold Conquest makes the second appearance of his three-year-old year.

Paul Mazur dives into the two races for older horses, the Azeri Stakes (GII) and the Razorback Handicap (GIII).  The Azeri features the four-year-old debut of Untapable, as well as the Illinois-bred multiple stakes winner Diva’s Diamond.  The field in the Razorback includes Oaklawn horse-for-the-course Ride On Curlin, as well as another Illinois-bred multiple stakes winner, I Got It All.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, see what we have to say about the races, and let us know what you think in the comments!

2015 Essex Handicap Preview

Not often does a race fall into the wheelhouse of Blinkers Off for multiple reasons.  There are a lot of races with Curlin babies in them.  There are a lot of races with Illinois-bred horses in them.  That does not often overlap, particularly at the stakes level…but in Saturday’s Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park, it does.  Ride On Curlin, after his dazzling return in an allowance opening weekend at Oaklawn, returns to face older horses in stakes company for the first time.  Furthermore, the eight-horse field features two multiple stakes-winning Illinois-breds.  I Got It All swept the stakes for three-year-old Illinois-breds last year, and added an open stakes win in the Straight Line on the Million undercard last year.  His only stakes try against older horses came in the Lightning Jet Handicap at Hawthorne on December 6.  The bettors sent him off the 7/10 choice, but 9/1 shot Luv Bandit got there first.  That win in last year’s Lightning Jet was Luv Bandit’s fourth stakes win, though he has yet to attempt open stakes company.  The six-year-old gelding’s first career open stakes try comes Saturday, in the Essex Handicap.

Saturday, February 14: Oaklawn Race 9, Essex Handicap (Listed), 1 1/16 miles over the dirt, post time 5:09pm Central

Selections:  Golden Lad (8), Ride on Curlin (7), I Got It All (3)

Longshot:  Luv Bandit (6)

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Ride On Curlin: he’s back!

It had been since the Belmont Stakes (GI) in June that Ride On Curlin (Magical Ride, by Storm Cat) raced.

It had been since opening weekend at Oaklawn last year that Ride On Curlin last won.

He was a consistent runner at two and three, finishing off the board only three times in twelve starts over the first two years of his racing career.  He was eased in the Belmont, got a break, and then that break became even longer as he worked through a splint issue.  His connections had patience, and could not have picked a more reasonable comeback race: a six-furlong N2X allowance over his favourite course, Oaklawn.  The class and distance did not look to ask too much too soon, and yet it was the sort of race from which he would likely get something win or lose.

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welcome back, Ride On Curlin!

Ride On Curlin had a long campaign, running steadily from the summer of his two-year-old year through the Belmont Stakes (GI) last June with just one two and a half month lay.  He got a well-deserved break after being eased in the Belmont.  Though he was originally going to race again in 2014, he popped a splint and took time to recover form that before coming back to the racetrack.  He returned to the worktab in December, and has been a regular presence at Churchill and then Oaklawn in the mornings.

Thursday, Ride On Curlin returns to the starting gate.

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Curlin babies highlight reel

It has been a very long time since my last update on the Curlin Babies…or, at least, my last update that has come in more than 140 characters.  I have let this project pile up behind both non-racing life as well as other more immediate racing-related things like handicapping writing and recapping for specific races.  For that, I know I have let you down, and I am sorry.

Consider this a highlight reel, with full updates to resume on schedule next Monday.  Highlights include particularly sharp performances, stakes races, claims into new barns, as well as momentous occasions such as career debuts.  This also includes touching upon the Curlin babies who are scheduled to race over the next week.

If there is any Curlin baby who you follow who I missed, or about whom you are curious, please send me an email or a tweet, and I will update you here on your favourite Curlin baby.

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this week in Curlin babies: 7.3.14

Welcome to another installment of this week in Curlin babies: all the news that’s fit to print about Blinkers Off’s favourite sire.  In the last week, J to the Croft once again showed his promise, prevailing over a tough allowance field of three-year-olds at Belmont.  Moulin de Mougin proved herself competitive in the Royal Heroine Stakes (GII), placing third in her first graded stakes attempt.  This week’s runners are headlined by Stopshoppingdebbie, the seven-for-seven filly who returns to Emerald Downs this Sunday in the Boeing Handicap.

Without further ado, let’s see what Curlin’s runners have been doing on the track lately!

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this week in Curlin babies: 6.19.14

Welcome to another installment of this week in Curlin babies: all the news that’s fit to print about Blinkers Off’s favourite sire.  The Curlin babies have been burning up the track this year: this week, Curlin surpassed $4,000,000 in progeny earnings for 2014.  He is the leading third-crop sire in earnings.  Even without the earnings of Palace Malice, winner of four graded stakes this year, Curlin would still top the third-crop sire list with over half a million dollars more than second-place Midnight Lute.  He is also a heavy hitter on this year’s general sire list, trailing only Tapit, Medaglia d’Oro, Speightstown, and Tiznow.

The highlights begin overseas this week: in Russia’s richest horse race, the President’s Cup, it was Lucky First first and the rest nowhere.  Maria Maria also got back on the winning track, taking down an allowance at Arlington this week.  This week, Lady of Luck makes another New Mexico stakes attempt, heading postward in the Zenyatta Stakes at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday.  Also, there is another race this week with two Curlin babies in it: Blisstering Strike and Julie Napp go head-to-head in a maiden race at Belmont.

Without further ado, let’s see what everyone has been up to!

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this week in Curlin babies: 6.12.14

Welcome to another installment of this week in Curlin babies: all the news that’s fit to print about Blinkers Off’s favourite sire.  Within the last week, two-year-old colt Jess’s Dream — Curlin’s colt out of Rachel Alexandra — appeared on the worktab for the first time.  Coming up this weekend, two Curlin babies square off in the same graded stakes: both Blue Violet and Flash Forward have drawn into the Obeah Stakes (GIII) at Delaware Park.  That is one of three races this weekend with two of Curlin’s progeny racing; there’s also an N1X allowance optional claiming race Saturday at Emerald Downs that features both Charismata and Timeless Pleasure, and a maiden special weight Sunday at Monmouth that features both Rebel Spy and Sunset District.  There is also one other graded stakes featuring a Curlin baby: Lynx will follow up his last-out maiden win with an entry in Sunday’s Pegasus Stakes (GIII) at Monmouth.

Without further ado, let’s see what everyone has been up to!

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fantasy stable: week 20 (final) postmortem

We’re twenty weeks in, and the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league has now drawn to a close.  I joined the league with no expectations other than that the league would give me a distinct reason to follow the three-year-old class more closely, and become a better handicapper.  The league served that purpose admirably, and was a lot of fun for me.  I also somehow managed not to finish last despite being so new to fanatically following horse racing, and despite a big mid-season slump for my stable.  In an eight-person league, I finished fifth: not too shabby for someone taking their first crack at fantasy horse racing, and for someone for whom this was their first year following the Triple Crown trail so closely.

In the final weekend, five of my eight horses entered the gate, and two managed to hit the board to score a few final points.  Life In Shambles set the fractions in the Easy Goer, faster than I would have expected thanks to longshot Howl pushing him along.  He got nabbed by Kid Cruz and Legend late, but the promising gelding managed to hold on for third.  I had two in the Woody Stephens, Derby Trial winner Embellishing Bob and recent stable addition Top Fortitude.  Embellishing Bob just didn’t have it down the stretch, and finished seventh.  Top Fortitude, near the back early, had enough to pick off everyone but Bayern at the end.  Bayern ran away with it, but the Arizona-bred still acquitted himself well, and showed that his performance in the Laz Barrera was no fluke.  My stable had two in the Belmont Stakes, Ride On Curlin and Wicked Strong.  Ride On Curlin didn’t have a good time of things.  He bled, and jockey John Velazquez eased him late.  He’s getting a well-deserved break before continuing.  Wicked Strong chased the pace from a bit closer than I was expecting, and made up some ground late.  However, he only got within 1 3/4 lengths of Tonalist at the wire, good enough for a fourth-place dead heat with California Chrome.

A big thank you to Craig for running the league through the winter and spring.  I loved it, all the way around.  I was a little shy to throw my hat into the ring at first, both because I was relatively new to following racing so closely and because I didn’t know anyone in the league all that well when I joined.  Still, I’m glad I shoved aside my fears of failing and of feeling like an interloper.  It was both fun and educational to just dive in, and I’ve gotten to know some seriously awesome people as part of the league.

I can’t wait to do this all again next year.

this week in Curlin babies: 6.8.14

Welcome to another installment of this week in Curlin babies: all the news that’s fit to print about Blinkers Off’s favourite sire.  This week’s edition was delayed a few days due to the massive Belmont card, but I haven’t forgotten about the Curlin babies!  The biggest highlight of this past week was Palace Malice’s big win in the Met Mile: he’s the original reason I started following Curlin’s progeny, and he just keeps getting better and better.  This week also featured Curlin’s Princess becoming the first winner from Curlin’s third crop, as well as Stopshoppingdebbie improving her career record to a perfect seven for seven.

Without further ado, let’s see what everyone has been up to!

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this week in Curlin babies: 6.5.14

Since there is both a huge card at Belmont as well as a stakes card at Arlington on Saturday, I am knee-deep in far more past performances than usual.  Instead of trying to rush to get good race recaps written for the Curlin babies, this week’s full edition of This Week In Curlin Babies will instead appear on Sunday, with the usual in-depth coverage of all of the Curlin babies who have raced in the last week and a half.

However, there are two graded stakes races coming up that feature Curlin’s offspring, which warrant a few words before they go off on Friday.  They are both at Belmont, and they are both familiar and well-loved faces here at Blinkers Off.

Palace Malice races in the Metropolitan Handicap (GI) on Saturday, at a mile over the Belmont dirt.  He didn’t draw the best post position; he is on the rail in the field of thirteen horses.  This will be Palace Malice’s third career attempt at a mile, following wins in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII) and the Westchester Stakes (GIII).  The race drew a strong yet interesting field: strangely enough, despite Palace Malice’s foray into mile races being a fairly recent one, the only other horses in the field who have stakes wins at a mile are Goldencents and Broadway Empire.  However, there are a lot of horses in this field who are either crack seven-furlong horses stretching out, or eight-and-a-half- or nine-furlong horses cutting back to try a mile.  It is a tough test, but if any horse in training is up to any tough test at a middle or long distance, Palace Malice is that horse.

Ride On Curlin rides on to the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes (GI), at 1 1/2 miles in the dirt.  He breaks from the 5 gate in a field of eleven.  He is coming off a strong second-place finish in the Preakness, and made his usual seven-furlong work last weekend.  Class-wise, he can give any of these horses a run for their money, but pace is the huge worry for him.  In my opinion, the pace scenario of the race is almost certain to set up very poorly for Ride On Curlin.  However, I would love nothing more than to see him prove my worries wrong, overcome it, and bring Curlin two Belmont winners in two three-year-old crops.

Picks and Ponderings: Belmont Point/Counterpoint!

A little race called the Belmont Stakes is coming up on Saturday, and there’s just a Triple Crown on the line.  Small stuff, right?

Of course not!  And, with such a big race ahead, Paul Mazur and I went horse-for-horse through the Belmont Stakes field to discuss who we like, who we don’t like, and who we are hitching our fortunes to when the dust settles.  Check it out for a little bit of levity, and a lot of analysis!

fantasy stable update: week 19

We are nineteen weeks into the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league, and the day of reckoning is near.  There’s just one more day of points races left, this Saturday, and then the league is over.  Just in time for this final day of points races, there are a few new faces in my stable, who I introduced last week.  As Murphy’s Law would suggest, however, I made what may possibly be a crucial mistake in my claiming strategy.  I stand behind all three horses I claimed last week.  However, I set up my drops based on the best information I had — and the best information I had included absolutely no scuttlebutt that General a Rod would be headed to the Belmont.  He was fairly late in declaring that he would go to the Preakness, but at least there were people whispering about whether he would be headed out there or not.  I heard no rumours, and I saw no works back since the Preakness, so I assumed he would not be Belmont-bound.  Saturday?  He worked a five-furlong bullet in 1:00.20 over the Churchill training track, and his connections proclaim him Belmont-bound.


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fantasy stable: week 18 update

This has been another fairly slow week for my fantasy stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league.  We’re making it down the home stretch, though — the final claiming day is this Thursday, and the final points races (the Belmont Stakes, the Acorn Stakes, the Woody Stephens, and the Easy Goer) all unfold on June 7th.  Nominations for the three-year-old Belmont undercard races (Acorn, Woody Stephens, and Easy Goer) came out today, and most of my stable appeared in at least one of those nominations lists.  With the next claim coming up this week, though, I am hoping they proceed from “nominated” to something more definite shortly.  Even a definite “no” would be useful, since I still have a good amount of claiming budget in order to try for some horses who are running in the big Belmont races and not yet owned by any of my competitors.

Let’s see how my stable is doing!

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