Curlin Stakes Attracts Eight at Saratoga
The $100,000 Curlin Stakes is set for Friday, July 29 at Saratoga, and a strong field of 3-year-olds will go 1 1/8 miles looking to win the $60,000 first place prize for their connections.
Dolphus is 2-for-3 and returns from a six month layoff. The half-brother of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel’s Alexandra had a few minor setbacks, but the chestnut colt has been working steadily for his return and appears ready to run.
“We’re excited to get him back on track, I know we did the right thing giving him a little break,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “I think that we’re going to have a nice, fresh 3-year-old for the summer and fall campaigns. Both physically and mentally, he’s really just changed a lot. He’s gotten a little lighter – he’s lost some of that baby look. We really couldn’t be happier with where he is physically right now.”
Gift Box was the second betting choice back in November for the Grade II Remsen and finished third behind winner Mohaymen. He won his 2016 debut in May at Belmont with a convincing 4 ½ length win as the 9/5 choice in allowance company that included Gettysburg, who finished third as the favorite. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride for trainer Chad Brown, who also saddles Connect, a Curlin colt who is 2-for-3 and makes his stakes debut with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez aboard.
Multiple Grade I runner-up Swipe has finished second to Nyquist four times, and he’ll try to break through for his second win in 10 starts, but has shown little this year in three races.
Uncle Vinny won the Grade III Sanford over this track a year ago, but has been unable to break through in five starts since for trainer Todd Pletcher. Ready Dancer won for Pletcher at 17-1 a month ago in allowance company at Belmont, while Majesto makes his first start since finishing 18th in the Kentucky Derby. Forever d’Oro rounds out the field, and he’s by 2002 Belmont runner-up Medaglia d’Oro and out of 2006 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Lemons Forever, but Forever d’Oro finished last in the Belmont Stakes and trainer Dallas Stewart expects much better Friday.