SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> When the Curlin Stakes was first run in 2009, it didn’t seem like the $100,000 race would have much of an impact on the Travers. After all, the recognized Travers prep, the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) — with its then $500,000 purse — was scheduled for the following day. Both races were written for three-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles.
The Curlin, however, was restricted to sophomores who had not won a graded race over a mile that year, and in time a few late-developing horses coming out of the race ended up running back in the Travers. In fact, the last five winners of the Curlin have also run in the Travers, most famously V. E. Day, who in 2014 won the Midsummer Derby at 19-1. And last year’s one-two finishers, Connect and Gift Box, ran a respectable fifth and fourth behind Arrogate in the Travers.
The field for this year’s Curlin, which will be run as the featured ninth race on today’s card, includes the usual mix of horses who appear to be on the way up, and those who showed promise at two but have yet to find their stride at three.
Outplay, the morning-line favorite at 5-2, is an example of the former group. After taking four starts to break his maiden, the son of Bernardini defeated winners in his first try before fading in the stretch versus highly regarded West Coast in the Easy Goer Stakes on June 10. John Velazquez is back aboard the Repole Stable colt for trainer Todd Pletcher.
You’re to Blame, runner-up in the Easy Goer, ran decently in a pair of Grade 3s in the spring. He is one of three expected starters…
click here to read more.