TORONTO, ON – Trainer Josie Carroll’s Curlin’s Voyage waltzed up the rail and danced home a strong winner of Saturday’s $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser.
Curlin’s Voyage was the 6/5 favorite as she broke from the inner-most post under Patrick Husbands and found her own stride near the rear while saving ground inside of Merveilleux early on.
Infinite Patience struck the front and posted opening fractions of :23.15, :46.79, and 1:11.21 while Bayou Belle gave closest watch down the backstretch.
Near the 5/8 pole, Husbands encouraged Curlin’s Voyage to split and pass foes in order to get the jump on Merveilleux, a move that put her several lengths ahead of that rival through the far turn.
Swiftly skimming her way along the rail, Curlin’s Voyage quickly overtook and dispatched of Infinite Patience near the top of the stretch.
Kept to a mild drive, Curlin’s Voyage drifted out slightly but ran straight and true when it mattered, crossing 1 3/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:50.04 for the 1 1/8-mile fast synthetic route.
“The first quarter was pretty quick, so that singled them out,” Husbands said after winning his fourth Oaks. “In the first turn and in the second turn, (Merveilleux) was on me, and so I told myself, ‘I’m on the best horse,’ so when I reached the 5/8 pole, I was looking for any holes. The first hole that opened up, I was clear of that one, and then the second hole opened up by the 3/8 pole, and then at the 1/4 pole, the other one opened up and it was all sailing from there.”
Afleet Katherine made a three-wide bid while the winner shot forward along the rail, taking and holding second by a 1/2-length over a traffic-impeded Merveilleux, whose rally from last began with too much to do.
Mizzen Beau was fourth ahead of Justleaveitalone, while behind them came Pilot Episode, Infinite Patience, Lasting Union, Bayou Belle, and November Fog to complete the order of finish.
Curlin’s Voyage’s win was her second straight following the Fury Stakes over this course on July 5 and improved her overall record to 9-5-2-1 with $499,545 earned for Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings (who also bred her) and Windsor Boys Racing. The 3-year-old Curlin filly might make her next appearance in the $1 million Queen’s Plate – the premiere event for Canadian-foaled sophomores – and gives Carroll plenty of options..
“She’s a very special filly; a very, very special filly,” Carroll said. “I think we knew what we had from the start when we were very bold and put her against the boys the first time out in (the Victoria Stakes). It’s not something you do lightly; you have to think one’s special. I had a few concerns this year with the way the stakes schedule played out. I knew I wasn’t going to get a two-turn race in her and it gave me some concern, but I trained her fairly hard into this race and she just thrived on it. Good horses thrive on training.”
Curlin’s Voyage returned $4.70 to win, $3.10 to place, and $2.30 to show. Afleet Katherine brought back $4.90 to place and $2.30 to show, while Merveilleux paid $2.80 to show.