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SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – John Oxley and Breeze Easy’s Curlin’s Honor found his best stride late, rallying up the rail under Joel Rosario to capture Saturday’s $150,000 Artie Schiller, a one-mile inner turf test for 3-year-olds and upwards at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Mark Casse, the 4-year-old Curlin chestnut hit the board in five-consecutive graded stakes at Woodbine Racetrack ahead of a last-out score in an optional-claiming turf test on October 6 at the Etobicoke, Ontario oval.
Abiding Star was gunned from the outside post in the nine-horse Artie Schiller field and marked the opening quarter-mile in 23.62 seconds and the half in 47.09 under pressure from Grade 1-winner Voodoo Song.
Rosario, who captured the Pumpkin Pie a race earlier with Saguaro Row, rated Curlin’s Honor patiently in eighth position as Voodoo Song took over from Abiding Star to reach three-quarters in 1:11.27. Caribou Club, fresh off a win in the Grade 3 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup, loomed the one to beat into the final turn as Feargal Lynch waited patiently in fourth to give the Glen Hill Farm homebred his cue.
Caribou Club vacated the rail to take command at the stretch call but there would be no denying a furious rail run from Curlin’s Honor, who got up to win by a neck in a final time of 1:35.11 on the firm turf. Caribou Club completed the exacta by three lengths over 2-1 mutuel favorite Frontier Market.
Rosario said the inside trip was key in victory.
“He put in a nice big run on the inside. I just wanted to save some ground and we ended up in perfect position along the rail,” said Rosario. “Thankfully, when he got there he really exploded and was full of run. I was away from everybody in the beginning of the race and when I got to the turn, I had to wait a little bit, but I got lucky everything opened up and he went on.”
Curlin’s Honor opened his campaign with an off-the-board effort in the main track Stymie on March 9 at the Big A. Assistant trainer Jamie Begg said the colt has thrived since committing to turf.
“He looks like a dirt horse. We came in the winter for the Stymie and it came up tough, but it was the last try [on dirt],” said Begg. “Last year, he ran at Belmont going seven-eighths [on turf in the Paradise Creek] and just lost to Gidu. We thought maybe a flat mile on the grass was his cup of tea. It seemed to work out and Joel knew how the race was going to set up for him. He made a good plan and executed it perfectly.”
Rounding out the order of finish were Just Howard, Golden Brown, Voodoo Song, Gidu, Dr. Edgar and Abiding Star. Gunnison and main-track only entrants Stan the Man, Dynamax Prime and Free Enterprise were scratched.
Curlin’s Honor, bred in Florida by Miller Racing, banked $82,500 in victory while improving his record to 5-3-4 from 16 starts. He returned $17.40 for a $2 win ticket.
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