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Gowan Rides Wave with Ride on Curlin

Ride On Curlin is victorious this weekend at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Photo: Coady Photography

Ride on Curlin, who will line up in the gate for Saturday’s 1 1/16 mile $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), is taking trainer William Gowan on the ride of his life.

“I’ve never had a horse in the Kentucky Derby,” said Gowan, the former exercise rider and assistant to the legendary Jack Van Berg. “That would be amazing. It’s what all of us in this game are here for.”

Not only hasn’t he had that elusive Derby horse, Gowan has yet to win a graded stakes race. That can change when Ride on Curlin, third in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes here last out behind fellow Rebel runners Tapiture and Strong Mandate, takes them on again along with five other talented 3-year-olds.

“He went one lap around this morning,” said Gowan, who has a small string at Oaklawn and termed the son of Curlin out of the Storm Cat mare Magical Ride the best horse he’s ever had since going out on his own in 1994.

“Oh yeah, he’s ready. He’s and as good as he can be.”

Ride on Curlin, who is owned by Daniel Doughtery, got caught seven-wide in the full field of 12 around the turn in the Southwest but traffic may not be as much of an issue with the smaller Rebel field.

“I’ve seen them get in trouble in small fields, too,” he said. “But it’s alright. I’d rather have him in it than in his stall.”

Getting to race out of his stall rather than having to ship to an unfamiliar track may prove to work to the advantage of the colt, who was third behind the highly-regarded Havana and Honor Code last October in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.

“I like that home field advantage,” said Gowan. “He likes the track here, so he should be in good shape. I think the pace should set up for him and he’ll be pretty close. I really don’t want him on the lead. He’s got tactical speed. The best race for him will be stalking and closing. The track’s been playing fair so now it’s going to be who’s the best horse tomorrow.”

If that horse is Ride On Curlin, he’ll earn 50 points under the Kentucky Derby qualifying system to add to the five he already has and catapult him to near the top of the standings, and there’s 20-10-5 points for second through fourth are also up for grabs.






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