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Ride On Curlin Ready to Move Forward

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

Billy Gowan, the trainer of Arkansas Derby (G1) contender Ride on Curlin, knew the colt was something special the first time he caught his eye.

“I picked him out of the Keeneland (September 2012 Yearling) sale. As soon as I saw him, I called my owner and said, ‘You better get right over here because we’re buying this one.’ We didn’t have much time because he was already in the back ring. We didn’t even have time to vet him. I gave twenty-five thousand for him.”

Owner Daniel Doherty’s investment proved wise as the son of Curlin, the 2007 Arkansas Derby winner and two-time Horse of the Year, has finished out of the money only once in eight starts and has earned $214,687. He has the chance to increase his bankroll significantly when he steps into the starting gate Saturday in the $1 million Arkansas Derby.

Ride on Curlin, who was third in both the Southwest Stakes (G3) and the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn, breezed seven furlongs in 1:26.4 here on Apr. 6 under exercise rider Brian Beccia.

“He worked really good and he’s ready,” said Gowan, who worked for Hall of Fame trainers Jack Van Berg and Bill Mott before going out on his own 20 years ago. “I think he’s ready to move forward from his third place in the Rebel, and he should.”

Gowan currently has five horses in his care and Ride on Curlin is the stable star. He currently stands in 23rd place with 15 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, but with 170 points (100-40-20-10 for finishing first through fourth) up for the taking, a strong Arkansas Derby effort will punch his ticket to the big show.

“He’s the best horse I’ve ever had, by far,” said Gowan, who trains on the Oaklawn-Churchill Downs circuit. “I’ve never had an Arkansas Derby horse before, let alone a Kentucky Derby horse, so this is pretty exciting.”

Jon Court picks up the mount on Ride on Curlin.

Post positions for the Arkansas Derby will be drawn Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Central in the first floor of the Oaklawn Grandstand.

Other Arkansas Derby probables with riders are Bayern (Gary Stevens), Commissioner (Mike Smith), Conquest Titan (Calvin Borel), Danza (Joe Bravo), Strong Mandate (Luis Saez), Tapiture (Joel Rosario) and Thundergram (Norberto Arroyo Jr.). Chitu and Rebranded are possible.


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