Curalina draws off for La Troienne triumph

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Jen Caldwell

May 6th, 2016

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Curalina was making her first start of 2016 on Friday in the $300,000 La Troienne (G1) at Churchill Downs to kick off the stakes action on Kentucky Oaks Day, and ended up romping by 7 1/2 lengths under jockey John Velazquez.

The chestnut daughter of Curlin tracked in second just outside of the pacesetting Angela Renee, who posted splits of :24.24, :48.38 and 1:12.36 over the fast main track. Sheer Drama, the 4-5 favorite, was keeping in close attendance right off the leader’s hooves.

Entering the lane, Velazquez gave Curalina her signal and the four-year-lad lass hit another gear to grab command and pull away to finish 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.45.

The Todd Pletcher trainee paid $6.60 for the victory as the 2-1 second choice in the six-distaffer field. Longshot Engaginglee filled the second spot, just getting her head in front of Sheer Drama, who finished another 1 3/4 lengths in ahead of Angela Renee.

Curalina hadn’t been seen in competition since finishing third in last October’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland. Prior to that, the Kentucky-bred four-year-old scored wins in the Acorn (G1) and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) while placing in both the Alabama (G1) and Beldame Invivitational (G1).

In fact, Curalina has faced nothing but Grade 1 rivals since taking an allowance/optional claimer last May under the Twin Spires. With Friday’s win the filly has accumulated $1,190,940 in lifetime earnings to go along with a 9-5-2-2 record.

Curalina is out of the Grade 2-placed Graeme Hall mare Whatdreamsrmadeof, making her a half-sister to Grade 3-placed Dream Spinner and from the same family as the Canadian Horse of the Year Uncaptured.


John Velazquez (rider of Curalina, winner) – "She came back really good. Once I got my position, I made sure to stay there. I wanted to keep Sheer Drama in the tight spot. When we came into the lane, my horse just took off. There was no competition coming after her. She won easy.”

Todd Pletcher (trainer of Curalina, winner) – “We didn’t think (Angela Renee) would be on the lead when we (he and John Velazquez) spoke beforehand, but Johnny did a good job of getting in perfect position with her. He rode a very good race.”

Any concerns about bringing her back right into a Grade I race off a six-month layoff? “No. We felt like we had her ready.”

Corey Lanerie (rider of Engaginglee, runner-up) – "The horse ran great. (Trainer) Dale (Romans) had her ready. My instructions were to be second or third if we can't win. This was really big for this filly. I just sat back there and bided my time with her. She fought to the end. She could have easily given up and been third."

David Fawkes (trainer of Sheer Drama, third-place finisher) – “It was a little too wet maybe for her. I was talking to Joe (Bravo) after the race and he said she never really took a good hold. We were talking right after the race. I don’t think she likes the track. She never gets a real, good solid footing.  We’ll wait and see where she goes next.”

Curalina photo courtesy of Jim Tyrrell/