Curalina Goes for Grade 1 in New York; Desert Streel Heats it Up in Unzip Me Stakes in Cali

Curalina Goes for Grade 1 in New York; Desert Streel Heats it Up in Unzip Me Stakes in Cali

Curalina Tackles Elders in Beldame

By: Claire Novak

Curalina will step up to face older fillies and mares for the first time Sept. 26, taking on five rivals in the $400,000 Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ 3-year-old daughter of Curlin returns to the track that saw her rise to the top level when she won the one-mile Acorn Stakes (gr. I) there June 6, making a steady climb from maiden winner March 28 at Gulfstream Park to allowance victress May 1 at Churchill Downs to grade I New York success for trainer Todd Pletcher.

MITCHELL: Curalina Wins First Stakes in Acorn

Pletcher holds the record for most wins by a trainer in the Beldame, with victories secured by Ashado, Fleet Indian, Unbridled Belle, Life at Ten, and most recently 3-year-old Princess of Sylmar in 2013.

The 1 1/8-mile Beldame should be a good spot for Curalina to return to her winning ways, and gives her about five weeks until a potential run in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) Oct. 30 at Keeneland. She breaks from the rail under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez and, carrying 120, gets a weight break of three pounds from her elders.

Curalina was elevated to first in the July 26 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga Race Course when bumped by I’m a Chatterbox, but then finished third behind Embellish the Lace and I’m a Chatterbox in the Aug. 22 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at the Spa going 1 1/4 miles.

BALAN: Curalina Gets CCA Oaks After ‘Chatterbox’ DQ

The rival with the strongest resume will break from right beside 3-1 second choice Curalina—Godolphin Racing homebred Wedding Toast, who has not started since winning the June 6 Ogden Phipps Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont but is the 6-5 favorite on the Beldame morning line.

“She missed a few works there and we opted not to run her (in the Personal Ensign). We just wanted to get her right,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “She just wasn’t quite 100 percent. No big issues, but we wanted to skip that race and point for here because she loves the Belmont one turn.

“She’s doing great and we’re looking forward to running her.”

The 5-year-old daughter of Street Sense has been working steadily on the all-weather track at Greentree Training Center, including five furlongs in 1:01 flat Sept. 18.

Wedding Toast took the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps by five lengths after romping by four in the May 9 Ruffian Stakes (gr. II) going a mile, also at Belmont. She has won at the Beldame distance, taking the 2013 Comely Stakes (gr. III) and also breaking her maiden over 1 1/8 miles. Jose Lezcano has the mount from post 2.

New York-bred grade III winner Hot Stones seeks her first win at the highest level, coming off an impressive 9 1/4-length victory Aug. 17 in the Saratoga Dew Stakes going 1 1/8 miles. The 5-year-old daughter of Bustin Stones races for trainer Bruce Levine and Roddy Valente, Charles Casale, and Darlene Bilinski.

Also looking to break through at the grade I level is Miller Racing’s shipper Call Pat, who won the Aug. 8 Groupie Doll Stakes (gr. III) at Ellis Park for trainer Brad Cox. The 5-year-old Lawyer Ron runner has not raced in New York before and has one prior grade I venture under her girth; a fifth in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park earlier this year.

Grade III winner and grade I-placed House Rules and recent Summer Colony Stakes winner Catch My Drift complete the field.

*Also on Saturday, Eclipse will send out Desert Steel in the $91,000 Unzip Me Stakes at Santa Anita. The streaking Cal-Bred filly was dominant at Del Mar over the summer, reeling off a pair of open-length wins at 5 poles on the green “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” and will try to prove she’s as good across the unique downhill layout at “The Great Race Place.”

Tyler Baze will sport the baby blue and black Eclipse silks for trainer Simon Callaghan in what figures to be a monster day of action from coast to coast for Eclipse and the industry in general.

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