- Curlin had shown speed in his seven furlong debut, but in the Rebel, as related by the somewhat more descriptive than usual chartcaller at Oaklawn, he did not break all that well. So he found himself in the second tier, some 5 1/2 lengths behind front running Xchanger (who hadn't shown any early speed since his debut last August). Funny that I wrote that Teuflesberg wouldn't be able to lope along on the lead in 1:12 in change considering the way I thought that the pace would set up, but had he not been unprepared for the start, he very well could have been the leader. Jamie Sanders said:
"The start really hurt him. He hopped pretty badly at the break, and that cost him position. Considering that, he ran a good race. He made a good run along with the winner, and finished well. I'm proud of him." [BRIS]She said that he'll next start in the Lexington Stakes on April 21, just two weeks before the Derby.
When Teuflesberg tried to move up on the turn, he forced Curlin four wide, but that wasn't stopping the son of the stakes-winner producing machine Smart Strike from easily sweeping by Xchanger and Flying First Class, the latter the 9-5 favorite for Lukas, ending up 8th, ouch. He bounded to the lead, and ran straight down the stretch until bearing out a bit when I believe I saw, on the small screen on my laptop, Albarado hitting him left handed a couple of times. (I must admit that I didn't even know that the race was on ESPN as I watched the Rangers' touchdown win over the Bruins.) He got the final sixteenth in 6.55 seconds; and gained a length in a final 2 1/2 furlongs of 32.19, which is a rate of about 25.75 seconds, on a track that produced sluggish times throughout the day.
It was quite a display by a colt making only his second career start. The Arkansas Derby is to be his next race. And despite the fact that we all know that horses who make their debut in Febraury don't win Derbies, you can be sure that Jess Jackson and company didn't shell out the big bucks with any other race in mind.
“No, I never felt I was rushing the colt,” said Asmussen, who also won the Rebel in 2000 with Snuck In and 2002 with Windward Passage. “I know what he is capable of doing. So much was different for him today. This was his first time to go two turns. I needed to just see where we are with him.”Curlin was a $57,000 bargain as a yearling, so the owners who reportedly sold a majority interest to Jackson for $3 million after his debut win made out pretty well themselves. Curlin is out of a Deputy Minister mare and this is the distaff family of the ill-fated Grade 1 winner Exogenous, and the champion juvenile filly Countess Diana (they all share the same third dam).
Asked if Curlin represents his best chance to win the Kentucky Derby, Asmussen said, “absolutely.” [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
- Lively discussion about the Tampa Bay race, and the consensus seems to be that Street Sense may have had too hard of a race in his first try in 4 1/2 months. I had written that Frank Lyons on TVG was more concerned about the effect of the race on Any Given Saturday, and I agreed with him, but most of those who have commented seem to disagree. Interesting that Pletcher acknowledged that Street Sense was actually not in the preferred path this time, despite his saving ground.
"We got the trip we wanted...Just watching the races today I didn't think the inside was necessarily a great place to be. So we got in the position we wanted, and what can you say? We got beat by a nose to a very good horse.We may not have to wait long to see what happens, as the two are both supposed to run next in the Blue Grass.
"You can't take anything away from either horse's effort. I was very pleased with him. Sometimes you lose a battle, and you win the war. We'll see what happens." [Tampa Tribune]
- Curlin was actually only the third stakes winner of the year for Smart Strike. Twilight Meteor and Super Freaky are the other two.