SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Repole Stable’s Outplay outbroke the field of seven 3-year-olds and never looked back en route to wiring Friday’s $100,000 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Under jockey John Velazquez, the son of Bernardini set fractions of :24.06, :48.71, 1:13.29, and 1:37.81 before finishing up the 1 1/8-mile trip in 1:50.59. Tucked to the inside throughout the race, the Todd Pletcher trainee’s largest lead came when he crossed the finish line, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of the field.
“I don’t know that we expected a dominant performance,” said Pletcher, who won his second Curlin and first since Turbo Compressor in 2011. “We felt like the horse was training very well, and we felt like on paper we had a bit of a pace advantage. You never know what everyone else’s strategy is, but we felt like we had the most natural speed, and we wanted to take advantage of that. He was able to get to the first turn in good order, and I thought he ran very well.”
After failing to break his maiden in his first three starts, Outplay has now won three of his last four, all at different tracks. His strong performance over the Saratoga main track might have opened up his next start to include the Grade 1 Travers, though his connections weren’t quick to sign up for the opportunity.
“I don’t know for sure,” Pletcher said. “I don’t want to commit to the Travers yet. He did have a huge win at Parx earlier in the year; the Pennsylvania Derby could make some sense, but I’ll talk to Mr. Repole about it. I’m sure he’d be excited to run in the Travers. We’ll see how things go tomorrow and how the Travers shapes up, and go from there.”
Small Bear took second, 3/4 of a length ahead of Perfect Partner, who edged the favored You’re to Blame for third. Off at 6/5, the Chad Brown colt was forced to take a wide trip around most of the course under jockey Javier Castellano.
“We knew there wasn’t much pace in the race, other than Chad’s horse,” Velazquez said. “Coming in, Todd and I talked and felt that we’d run to the first turn and see where we are, and it all worked out from there.”
Everybodyluvsrudy, Thirst for Victory, and Hemsworth completed the order of finish.
Outplay returned $6.10 to win, $3.80 to place, and $3.20 to show. Small Bear brought back $5.30 to place and $3.30 to show, while Perfect Partner paid $4.40 to show.