For a stakes race that's
only been in existence for five years, the $100,000 Curlin at Saratoga
Race Course boasts an impressive roster of alumni, most of whom were
relatively unknown going into the race. Among them are 2011 winner Turbo
Compressor, who went on to take the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap;
eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame, who took the inaugural
running in 2009, and multiple Grade 1 winner Point of Entry, who was
fourth in the 2011 edition.
Friday's 1 1/8-mile race
has drawn eight similarly not-quite-ready for prime time 3-year-olds,
many of whom are testing the waters for a possible shot at the Grade 1,
$1 million Travers on August 24.
Favored at 5-2 on the
morning line is the Darley Stable entry of Transparent and Romansh,
trained respectively by Kiaran McLaughlin and Tom Albertrani.
Transparent will be
making his first start since a 10 ¾-length allowance victory against
older horses on April 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The son of Bernardini,
who fetched $725,000 as a yearling at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton sales in
Saratoga, also has a 5 ¾ maiden win this year along with a sixth-place
finish in the Grade 3 Gotham.
training has been interrupted several times since, McLaughlin is pleased
with his two most recent works - a bullet half-mile in 47.56 seconds on
July 5 and another half-mile in 50.50 on July 19 - as he keeps an eye
on the Travers.
"He's training great,"
said McLaughlin, who saddled co-winner Alpha in last year's historic
Travers dead heat. "He's had a few issues. We missed a breeze or two or a
race or two, and now he's just doing really well. He had a bruised
foot, he had this, he had that, little tiny things.
"We had been planning to
run Incognito in the [July 27] Jim Dandy and him in the Curlin;
Incognito has had foot issues, but we decided to stick with the original
plan," he added. "He has been away now a few months, so we wanted to
take the easier route."
Romansh also will be
coming into the Curlin fresh, having been off since a 5 ½-length maiden
victory against older horses on May 25 at Belmont.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will
ride Transparent from post position 2 while Romansh will leave from post
position 6 with Junior Alvarado in the irons.
Bad Hombre was winless as a 2-year-old but appears to have turned the
corner this year. Since coming off the turf, he is 2-2-0 in four starts,
including a seven-furlong maiden victory on May 11 and a one-mile
allowance win on July 6 at Belmont last time out.
"He ran two good races
on the grass, and once we took him off, he really started running well,"
said trainer John Kimmel. "He wasn't so afraid of being around horses,
he's taking kickback, and he's made a good move forward."
At 6-1 on the morning line, Bad Hombre drew post position 3 and will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
come-from-behind winner of a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer on June 28 at
Churchill Downs, is the second choice at 3-1 on the morning line, with
Cerro, winner of the Canonero II stakes on June 1 at Pimlico Race
Course, and Edge of Reality, who steps into stakes company after a pair
of allowance wins at Parx Racing, co-third choice at 4-1.
Completing the field are
Keg Party, winner of a maiden and allowance race at Mountaineer in his
two most recent starts, and Midnight Taboo, 12th in the Belmont Stakes last time out.