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Travers Aspirants Test Waters in Curlin Stakes

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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.

 

While Transparent's 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.

 

Summit Thoroughbreds' 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.

 

Proud Strike, 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.

 

 

 

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