Ride On Curlin and Promise Me Silver Open Oaklawn with a Bang

Ride On Curlin and Promise Me Silver Open Oaklawn with a Bang
Photo: Coady Photography

Better late than never, Oaklawn Park finally was able to kick off their 2015 racing season today after canceling its first three scheduled days of racing because of freezing conditions. With temperatures a little bit warmer, it was Ride On Curlin and Promise Me Silver heating things up in Hot Springs, and more than making Opening Day at Oaklawn worth the wait.

It’s been a long time since we saw the Preakness runner-up at the races; too long in fact. That feeling was illustrated perfectly today when Ride On Curlin demonstrated just what he could do. And the big horse left us all wanting more after his thrilling late run got up in the final jump or two of Oaklawn’s closing race of the card.

In no hurry out of the gate, Ride On Curlin dropped a good dozen lengths behind the leaders through a speedy opening quarter, while staying on the inside under veteran rider, Jon Court. The big favorite moved up gradually into and on the turn, but still had plenty to do as the field of 11 approached the stretch run. Looking the part of a graded stakes performer, Ride On Curlin split horses adroitly coming off the turn and set sail on the leaders. By that time, though, second choice Ali’s Birthday had surged clear and would have been home free against your average allowance field. As you know, Ride On Curlin is no allowance horse, and he came flying after the leader, finally nailing his game competition on the shadow of the wire by a head. Final time for the six furlongs was a very solid 1:10.40.

Sent off as the even money choice against a field of ten runners with designs on defeating a big name horse, today’s return to the races, after seven months away, figured to be less than easy for Ride On Curlin. And for a long time it looked the like the handsome son of Curlin might not make it, but his class expressed itself in a big way down the Oaklawn Park stretch to the delight of a large portion of the Opening Day crowd.

The victory in the six furlong allowance/optional claimer represented Ride On Curlin’s 3rd win in 13 lifetime starts, which hardly speaks to how many good races the Billy Gowan trained colt has actually run. Today’s triumphant return should set him up perfectly for his re-entry into graded stakes racing. Believe it or not, despite already hitting the board in seven stakes races, the Daniel Dougherty owned Ride On Curlin has yet to break the ice in stakes racing.

The feeling in this corner is that it will just be a matter of time before he gets his first, and his second shouldn’t be too far behind. Seeing the way Ride On Curlin gobbled up ground down every inch of the Oaklawn Park stretch today, winning a race such as the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 11 would seem to be well within his scope.


Meanwhile, one race earlier, it was the $100,000 Dixie Belle for three-year-old fillies going six furlongs. Much like Ride On Curlin, 3-5 favorite Promise Me Silver was stuck down on the rail on the far turn, before finding room as the field turned for home. From there she shot up the rail for a hard-fought, rail-skimming victory over a hard charging second choice, Sarah Sis by a neck, in a final time of 1:11.45.

The victory had to be doubly satisfying for the winning trainer Bret Calhoun, who also trained Promise Me Silver’s sire, Silver City. It was just six years ago when Calhoun also won Oaklawn’s initial stakes race of the meeting, sending out Silver City to a win the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes. Like daddy, like daughter, Calhoun brought things first circle today with his new star, the undefeated Promise Me Silver.

An attractive gray Texas-bred, Promise Me Silver has now won five races at five different racetracks. She broke her maiden first out at Lone Star Park, before rattling off stakes wins at Churchill Downs, Retama Park, Fair Grounds, and today at Oaklawn Park. Having won her first four starts by an average of better than five lengths per, there was going to come a time when she would be tested. That test came in today’s Dixie Belle, and like a very good filly, she was up to the task. 

Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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