07/31/2016 2:12PM

Curalina crushes Carrumba in Shuvee

Barbara D. Livingston
Curalina cruises to a 9 1/4-length victory under John Velazquez in the Shuvee Handicap.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - On the tote board, Curalina and Carrumba were close, with $362 separating the two favorites in the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap with more than $205,000 combined wagered on the two fillies to win.  At the wire, the gap was much starker with Curalina crushing Carrumba by 9 1/4 lengths in the slop at Saratoga.

John Velazquez kept Curalina at the throatlatch of Carrumba and Jose Ortiz from the start, poked a head in front outside the quarter pole, and cruised home an eye-catching winner as the slight favorite.

The win was the sixth from 11 starts for Curalina, a daughter of Curlin owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

Curalina is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won  four of the last five runnings of this race.  Last year’s winner for Pletcher, Stopchargingmaria, went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

In this four-horse field, it was clear Carrumba was the speed from the inside post. Velazquez was well aware of that and told Pletcher he was not going to let Carrumba get away.

Curalina shadowed Carrumba through splits of 24.28 seconds for the quarter-mile, 48.59 for the half-mile, and 1:12.75 for six furlongs before going after her.

“I told Todd if they go 48-and-change or 49 I’m going to stick with him and he’s going to have to go faster,” Velazquez said. “I was right on him. I didn’t let up on him at any point.  I stayed right on his heels all the way around and it worked out good. When I asked my horse she responded right away.”

Curalina covered the 1 1/8 miles in the slop in 1:49.85 and returned $3.80.

Curalina is a three-time Grade 1 winner with wins in the Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks, and La Troienne.  She also finished third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

“I think she’s a little bit of an underrated filly. Her record is quite good,” Pletcher said. “I think she gets penalized a little bit for being put up on a [disqualification in CCA Oaks] last year. She was third in the Breeders’ Cup, her first race back this year was really good, and I think her Phipps was better than it looks on paper. … She’s a good filly and I think she’s getting better.”

Pletcher said Curalina could return in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign here on Aug. 27.

:: Enjoy news and analysis from DRF? Unlock access to handicapping analysis, real-time coverage, reports, charts, and more. Start your 30-day trial for 1¢. (First-time members only.)