By: David Grening
ELMONT, N.Y. – Barring an unexpected change of heart come entry day on Monday, Curalina will run in Friday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita and not in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint, her connections indicated Saturday.
“The filly’s doing great, she’s proven herself multiple times at a mile and an eighth,” trainer Todd Pletcher said Saturday at Belmont. “I guess we’ll have to make a final decision here soon, but most of our conversations have leaned that way.”
Aron Wellman, managing partner of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, which owns Curalina, said via text, “definitely favoring the Distaff.”
If Curalina does go in the Distaff, that will open a slot in the Filly and Mare Sprint for Wonder Gal, who currently sits one slot outside the body of the race.
On Saturday, Curalina put in a solid five-furlong workout in 1:01.30 over the Belmont Park training track to indicate she’s in top form. Under John Velazquez, her regular rider, Curalina went her opening quarter in 25.88 seconds, and with just minimal encouragement, she came through the lane in 35.42 seconds. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.06 and seven furlongs in 1:26.78.
“It was another very good work,” Pletcher said. “Went by herself today because she had such a powerful work last week; thought it was exceptional again.”
Last week, working in company, Curalina worked five furlongs in 59.32 seconds.
The reason for some of the hedging among Curalina’s connections is that this year’s Distaff will draw a stellar field, including champions Beholder, Stellar Wind, and Songbird, who have combined to win 35 races from 47 starts, including 22 out of 25 at Santa Anita.
“On paper, it looks like a Distaff for the ages,” Pletcher said. “But at the same time, her record is outstanding, she’s shown she can compete with the best of her generation, and she’s training as well as she ever has.”
Curalina, a daughter of Curlin, won the Grade 3 Shuvee at Saratoga on July 31. Most recently, she was beaten a half-length by Cavorting in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, also at Saratoga, on Aug. 27.
Last year, Pletcher won the Distaff with Stopchargingmaria, who won the Shuvee and then got beat in the Personal Ensign and didn’t run in between.
Photo Call to Mile
Photo Call, who upset Tepin in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland last out, will meet that rival again in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Pletcher confirmed Saturday.
Photo Call had also been pre-entered for the Filly and Mare Turf.
“She’s coming off a lifetime-best performance going a mile. I’m pretty sure that’s the direction we’re heading,” said Pletcher, who trains Photo Call for owners Vinnie and Teresa Viola.
On Saturday, Photo Call worked a half-mile in 48.86 seconds over the Belmont Park training track, basically all on her own. She went the first quarter in 24.96 seconds and the second quarter in 23.90.