Curlin Stakes at Spa Likely to Produce Travers Starters

A field of seven battle in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes on Friday. © Cheryl Quigley |

The marquee event of the Saratoga meeting is the $1.25 million Travers (G1) on Aug. 26 and a group of seven will look to stamp a ticket to the mid-summer classic with a good performance in Friday’s $100,000 Curlin.

The Curlin is contested at 1 1/8 miles and is restricted to three-year-olds that have not won a graded stakes race at a mile in 2017.

There is just one graded stakes winner in the race—Hemsworth (12-1) won last year’s Nashua (G2) at Aqueduct but has made just two starts since, getting eased in the Mucho Macho Man and a third last out against first level optional claimers.

The 5-2 morning line favorite is the Todd Pletcher trained Outplay, who was third in the Easy Goer at Belmont Park in his last outing. Pletcher will look for another Travers starter on Saturday, sending out Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming in the $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2).

The Chad Brown trained You’re to Blame (3-1) was second in the Easy Goer. He ran fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) and third in the Bay Shore (G3) in his two previous starts.

One to look for is recent maiden winner Perfect Partner (6-1) from the Mark Casse barn. The colt was a $550,000 purchase and is bred to run all day, his sire being Curlin and out of an A.P. Indy mare.

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Let’s head out to Saratoga for Friday’s featured race of the day:


Saratoga Race 9 The Curlin Post time 5:40 ET

2 Outplay   5-2

6 Perfect Partner   6-1

7 You’re to Blame   3-1

4 Hemsworth    12-1

Outplay chased the early pace and did not have enough punch left late in a third-place finish in the Easy Goer last out in his stakes debut. The winner West Coast returned to win the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) with a 100 Beyer in his next outing on July 15. It took four tries for this guy to break his maiden, doing it in a race washed off the turf at the Big A and then he shipped to Philly where he took the field gate to wire to pass his first allowance condition.

The Pletcher trainee still looks as if he has some upside and he has enough pedigree to handle nine furlongs. He was a $275,000 Ocala purchase by Bernardini out of a stakes placed Storm Cat mare that has dropped six other winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Raconteur ($163,133). The colt owns solid early and mid pace numbers in a race without a ton of speed signed up so he should get a good trip forwardly placed.

Perfect Partner faces winners for the first time here for the Casse barn. The colt broke his maiden last out at Belmont Park going a mile in his fourth career start. He ran third in his first three starts and looks headed in the right direction. The $550,000 Ocala purchase has a solid pedigree to handle the extra ground. He is by Curlin out of an A.P. Indy mare. The recent maiden winner may end up getting overlooked on the tote in this spot.

You’re to Blame made a good late rally racing in the best part of the track in a runner up finish in the Easy Goer last out, two lengths ahead of our top pick for the place spot. The Brown trainee earned the top last out speed fig in the effort and should move forward with the extra ground. He is out of the stakes winner Bon Jovi Girl ($518,743). He fits in this spot but not sure he is going to get the pace set up he needs.


WIN: Outplay to win at 5-2 or better.

EXACTA: 2,6 / 2,4,6,7

TRIFECTA: 2,6 / 2,4,6,7 / 1,2,4,6,7


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