Godolphin Racing’s Hemsworth will return to stakes company in attempting to recapture his juvenile form as part of a field of seven 3-year-olds in the $ 100,000 Curlin Stakes Friday on Saratoga Race Course’s main track.
Hemsworth broke his maiden in impressive fashion, winning the 2016 Grade 2 Nashua by 9 ½ lengths to close his 2-year-old campaign for trainer Tom Albertrani. But the Bernardini bay colt failed to finish in the Mucho Macho Man on January 7 at Gulfstream Park and weakened late in his last race on April 28 at Belmont Park.
“He kind of went a little backward on me and ran poorly at Gulfstream. He just wasn’t doing well, I don’t know why,” Albertrani said. “He got a little sick after the race, so that probably had something to do with it. But right now, he’s been focused and training well, so it looks like we’ll step him up.”
Hemsworth,1-0-1 in four starts at a mile, will be stretched out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time, drawing post 4 with jockey Luis Saez in the irons.
Woodford Racing’s You’re to Blame has seen his career head in the opposite direction, posting his best stakes effort with a second-place finish to West Coast in the Easy Goer on June 10, Belmont Stakes Day, rallying from ninth to earn a personal-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure.
The Chad Brown trainee will run at the Spa for the first time since a runner-up finish in his second career race last September. After finishing third in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at seven furlongs on April 8, Brown has stretched out the Distorted Humor colt.
“He’s done well; we’ve got him back to the one-turn races and he found himself and he’s back in good form,” Brown said. “We are going to try two turns again and see how it goes this time around. He’s matured a lot and changed a little bit. I’m optimistic now he can get the two turns. But we’ll have to see. He is training well.”
You’re to Blame drew the outside post with Javier Castellano aboard.
Everybodyluvsrudy will step back up to stakes level competition for the first time in four starts. After winning against allowance company on July 4 on Belmont’s Big Sandy, the son of Union Rags will run at 1 1/8 miles for the first time.
“We’re just hoping with him. It’s straight 3-year-olds and to run against older horses is going to be very, very challenging,” trainer Rudy Rodriguez said. “Older horses are tough and he’s still learning and still growing. Maybe it’s the spot for him. It’s a little quicker than we wanted [to run back] but it’s either that or run against older, so we’ll try to take a chance.”
Paco Lopez will ride from the rail.
Outplay was third in his stakes debut in the Easy Goer and has registered a Beyer of 90-or-better in each of his last three starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. Outplay, who is also a Bernardini colt, breezed Saturday on the Saratoga main track, going four furlongs in 50.78 seconds.
“I thought he worked well, the plan right now is to see [what we have] in the Curlin,” said Pletcher.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call from post 2.
Outplay’s stablemate, Thirst for Victory, will make his first stakes start since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Champagne on October 8 at Belmont in his 2-year-old finale. After six consecutive allowance races, the Kentucky-bred will return to the site of his debut victory in drawing post 5 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
The Curlin-sired Perfect Partner will make his stakes debut in an aptly named race. The Mark Casse trainee broke his maiden last out on July 3 at Belmont after three straight runner-up finishes to start his career. Joel Rosario will ride from post 6.
Small Bear, trained by Gary Sciacca, rounds out the field from post 3. Dylan Davis will ride.
The Curlin is named after the 2014 Hall of Fame inductee and two-time Horse of the Year for both 2007 and 2008. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Curlin was 11-2-2 in 16 career starts, including a win in the 2008 Grade 1 Woodward at the Spa.
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