Gift Box seeks first stakes win in Curlin

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TwinSpires Staff

July 26th, 2016

Gift Box didn't make it onto the classic trail after a promising juvenile campaign, but the gray son of Twirling Candy could make an impact during the second half of the season. The Chad Brown-trained gray will make his 2016 stakes debut Friday at Saratoga in the $100,000 Curlin, a restricted 1 1/8 miles for three-year-olds that have not won a graded stakes over a mile this year.

The $1.25 million Travers (G1) is a possible next stop for whomever wins the Curlin, one of three Travers preludes this weekend. Saratoga hosts the Jim Dandy (G2) on Saturday and Monmouth Park the Haskell Invitational (G1) on Sunday.

Third in his six-furlong debut at Saratoga last summer, Gift Box stepped up to 1 1/16 miles next out and prevailed over a sloppy Belmont strip. In his final start of the campaign, the Will Farish-owned colt ran third to Mohaymen in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct.

Encountering a setback leading up to the Risen Star (G2) in February, Gift Box ultimately returned in a May 26 allowance at Belmont, which the colt won impressively by 4 1/2 lengths.

Brown also trains Connect, an actual son of the race's namesake, who beat maiden and allowance foes during the Belmont spring meet by a combined margin of 7 3/4 lengths.

Two of the more notable Curlin entries are Swipe and Majesto. Second to champion Nyquist four times in California last season, Swipe also missed out on the classics due to lingering infirmities, and has been well beaten in a pair of stakes outings this year in the Lexington (G3) and Dwyer (G3). Majesto, a surprising runner-up to Nyquist in the Florida Derby (G1) when Mohaymen flopped, retreated to 18th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) when last seen

Also lining up in the Curlin are Dolphus, an allowance-winning half-brother to Rachel Alexandra; Forever d'Oro, a maiden winner for Dallas Stewart who trailed the Belmont S. (G1) field of 13; Ready Dancer, a last-out allowance winner for Todd Pletcher; and Uncle Vinny, last year's Sanford (G2) winner and Hopeful (G1) third.

(Adam Coglianese Photography)