07/27/2011 2:57PM

Saratoga: Raison d'Etat tries to give Mott birthday present in Curlin


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – There are sprinters stretching out in distance for the first time. There are horses coming out of maiden races trying winners for the first time. There are graded stakes performers seeking a little class relief.

Friday’s $75,000 Curlin Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga has a little bit of everything. At the end of the day, it should have yielded a starter or two for next month’s $1 million Travers Stakes, the marquee event run at this historic track.

"This will give us an idea if we keep the dream alive or not," said Bill Mott, trainer of Raison d’Etat, one of seven set to contest the Curlin at 1 1/8 miles over the main track.

First post for Friday’s card is 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

Given Raison d’Etat’s pedigree, the dream has been alive for quite a while. A product of multiple Grade 1 winners Empire Maker and Sightseek, Raison d’Etat is coming off a 7 3/4-length maiden victory at Belmont on June 18. The win came in the colt’s third career start after a fourth-place finish in his debut at 2 and a third in his first start at 3. In his first start this year, Raison d’Etat caught a wet track and resented the mud hitting him in the face.

"He was like a kangaroo down the backside," Mott said. "He finally leveled off a little bit through the stretch and he picked up some pieces and got third. The other day he was fine with the dirt."

This will be Raison d’Etat’s first start at 1 1/8 miles and two turns, but Mott believes "that should be great for him."

Mott celebrates his 58th birthday on Friday. Since 1992, Mott has won races at Saratoga on his birthday 12 times. Twice in last 19 years the track was dark.

Allen Jerkens will look to spoil Mott’s birthday with the royally-bred Bold Warrior, who attempts 1 1/8 miles for the first time after winning races at six and seven furlongs. Bold Warrior is by 2006 Jim Dandy and Travers winner Bernardini out of the 1993 champion 3-year-old filly Hollywood Wildcat.

"It doesn’t seem like he’s a run-off kind,’" Jerkens said. "The jockey has never had any trouble rating him. It’s a lot different rating off a half in 45 [seconds] than in 48. He’s well-bred, he looks well, he’s run well. You just hope he can take the next step up.’’

After running in three consecutive graded stakes, Prime Cut is taking a step down in class. He ran second in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland and third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park. He then came back for the Belmont Stakes, where he finished 11th of 12 in a race run over a sloppy track.

Neil Howard, the trainer of Prime Cut, said he chose the Curlin over Saturday’s $500,000 Jim Dandy because "you could give the horse a little bit better chance to bounce back in a race like this."

There was a 40-percent chance of thunderstorms Thursday and a 30-percent chance of more rain on Friday.

Point of Entry won a 1 1/8-mile maiden race by 15 1/2 lengths over a wet track at Belmont in May. Golden Gulch comes off two wins at Churchill, including an allowance score at 1 1/8 miles. Turbo Compressor and Will’s Wildcat complete the field though Will’s Wildcat is cross-entered in Saturday’s Jim Dandy.