By: David Grening of DRF
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Todd Pletcher will go for a third straight sweep of the Grade 1 route races for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga when he sends out Curalina as the probable favorite in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.
Curalina, unbeaten in four starts this year, won the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks via disqualification here July 26. In 2013, Pletcher won the Coaching Club and Alabama with Princess of Sylmar. Last year, Stopchargingmaria pulled off the CCA Oaks-Alabama double for Pletcher. In 2012, Questing, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, won both races.
While Questing won the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly, neither Princess of Sylmar nor Stopchargingmaria did.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to win the Coaching Club and Alabama the last two years,” Pletcher said Wednesday.
Regarding Curalina, Pletcher added: “She seems to have held form as well as Stopchargingmaria and Princess of Sylmar in between races. It’d be kind of cool to pull it off.”
Curalina finished second in her debut last summer at Saratoga. She didn’t make it back to the races until March 28, when she won a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream Park. She then galloped to an 8 1/4-length victory in a first-level allowance race at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day before overcoming difficulties to win both the Acorn and CCA Oaks.
The Alabama will mark the first time Curalina is running back in four weeks or less.
“She hasn’t given us any indication that it will be a problem,” Pletcher said. “She’s trained extremely well; both of her breezes were quite good.”
Lovely Maria, the Kentucky Oaks winner, and I’m a Chatterbox, third in the Kentucky Oaks, both arrived at Saratoga from Delaware Park around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to trainer Larry Jones, who drove the fillies here himself.
Jones noted that I’m a Chatterbox shipped here “a whole lot better this time” than she did for the CCA Oaks. Jones said the CCA Oaks was the first time I’m a Chatterbox wasn’t stabled alongside Lovely Maria since he had both fillies at Fair Grounds in the winter.
Include Betty, the Mother Goose winner, arrived from Delaware a day earlier than Jones’s fillies did. Danette, Embellish the Lace, and Sweetgrass complete the field.