07/25/2012 3:17PM

Saratoga: Street Life the lone stakes winner among Curlin starters

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Barbara D. Livingston
Street Life ran third in the Wood Memorial and fourth in the Belmont Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – They may not be as accomplished or well-known as the 3-year-olds running in the Jim Dandy or Haskell Invitational, but one or more of the eight horses entered in Friday’s $100,000 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga could emerge as a significant player for this year’s Travers Stakes.

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The Curlin, whose inaugural running in 2009 was won by 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame, is the featured event on a nine-race card that begins at 2:30 p.m., one of two “Party at the Spa” programs at the meet.

Street Life is the only member of the field to have won a stakes race, that being an overnight stakes at Aqueduct in March. His third in the Wood Memorial and fourth in the Belmont Stakes could make him the favorite in here, though his late-running style always makes him an iffy wagering proposition.

Reload and Easter Gift are a pair of lightly raced runners by Hard Spun from Hall of Fame trainers who should offer more value and intrigue.

Reload, trained by Shug McGaughey, has a win and two seconds from three starts. He was beaten a neck by Penn’s Grant in a first-level allowance race at Belmont in which he was pinched back at the start, made a sustained bid from the half-mile pole, and had to rally five wide in the stretch.

“He got checked pretty bad that day,” McGaughey said, noting that jockey Eddie Castro “had to grab him and then he did the right thing and sat there patient on him. He made a huge move. I don’t think he saw that horse on the inside of him. I think he’ll like two turns. He’s still a little bit lightly raced and still a little bit green. We’ll see where we stand.”

Easter Gift, trained by Nick Zito, won his first two starts sprinting in the mud before getting beat a neck in the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth, a two-turn race at 1 1/16 miles. He rallied from well off the pace under Sheldon Russell. Javier Castellano rides Friday.

“He lost some lengths at the start,” Zito said. “He looked like he maybe was going to get there. It’s one of those situations where he ran a winning race. He galloped out beautifully. He’s doing well. Hopefully, he’s getting good at the right time.”

Trainer Chad Brown wants to get Street Life to the Travers with a solid performance and felt the Curlin gave him a better chance to do that than the Jim Dandy.

“I like coming into a big race with some momentum if I can, whether it’s a win or a strong finish in a race,” Brown said. “That’s what I’m looking for. I thought the Curlin would be easier than the Jim Dandy and would give me a better opportunity to accomplish that.”

Ever So Lucky, second to Gemologist in the Kentucky Jockey Club as a 2-year-old, enters the Curlin off a solid 7 1/2-length victory in a one-mile, two-turn allowance race at Delaware.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard should get a better line on whether to point Ever So Lucky to the Travers or shorten him to the seven-furlong King’s Bishop run the same day.

Politicallycorrect, Fivesixteen, Love to Run and Morgan’s Guerrilla complete the field.

◗ Following the Curlin, the connections of Curlin – the 2007-08 Horse of the Year – will announce the name of the Curlin-Rachel Alexandra foal