06/24/2008 11:00PM

Curls and Pearls shows right stuff in debut

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EDMONTON, Alberta – One start does not a champion make, but trainer Joan Petrowski appears that she has another good one.

Curls and Pearls made her career debut a winning one last Sunday in the very first 2-year-old race of the season, beating the highly regarded Robo Willie by a length. It was not so much the victory but how Curls and Pearls won that had the backstretch community buzzing.

Despite the fact Curls and Pearls was the lone filly in the field of five, she was bet down to second favorite behind Robo Willie. She gave her backers plenty to worry about in the early stages of the 5 1/2-furlong race. Curls and Pearls “hesitated at the start,” according to the chart, but Real Simard settled her into stride through the first turn behind the rest of the field. That did not last for long, as Curls and Pearls rushed into contention nearing the quarter pole with a move more resembling an older horse than a 2-year-old filly.

Curls and Pearls even surprised Simard, who found himself firmly boxed in at the quarter pole, at which point Curls and Pearls showed her resentment of her jockey tugging so hard on the reins that she took the opportunity to jump. Simard stayed aboard, and in the next instant there was running room. Curls and Pearls shifted gears again and ran down a stubborn Robo Willie.

* Claimers are in the spotlight here Friday, with a field of seven entered for $22,000 in the seventh-race feature at 6 1/2 furlongs.