07/25/2012 4:17PM

Saratoga: Street Life the lone stakes winner among Curlin starters

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

Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
These are my "amount of work" ratings (based on parallel time model) for the last 3 usable races for each horse: #1: 127 - 147 - 123 #2: 118 - 116 - 165 #3: 107 - 146 - 123 #4: 140 - 136 - 124 #5: 128 - 138 - 119 #6: 106 - 122 - 119 #7: 150 - 122 - 130 #8: 141 - 142 - XXX - 129 Comments: #7 has highest last race rating, but had nothing in the tank in the stretch. Forget him. #1 is interesting, but will be meeting speed from #8. May hit board, but probably won't win. #4: Interesting. Steady improver with running line showing the impact of a bad start. This one looks to be the horse to beat. (The hotter pace over #5's last race accounts for the higher "work" rating even though the Beyer is lower.) #5: Should give an honest account. Play 4-5-1.
neigh sayer More than 1 year ago
Reload at a fair square price. Bad start in last spotted field 3 then quickly was about 10 behind leader. 5 wide around turn and looked a winner then bore in bad late when whipped right handed. Horse and Jock learned a lot from that race and got a lot out of it. Easter Gift a potential winner but I think Reload will edge away in last 1/16th. Don't understand Ever So Lucky at 5-2 second choice in morning line. I think he'll be higher and should be as I don't think he gets any part of this. Street Life might get by most for the third spot and if not, a nice tri.
B More than 1 year ago
Reload or Easter Gift.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I love this race - excellent money making race for a Friday at the Spa. I hope Street Life gets hammered at the window. Close to even money maybe? I think entirely possible considering he's probably the most well known horse in this race and he's dropping in after two G1 and one G2 tilts. The result will still be the same, another late running fourth, third or second. This kind plodding closer burns $$. I have seen so many Street Life type, they rarely win. There is one exciting closer in this year's Curlin. His name is Easter Gift, the lightly raced 3yo son of Hard Spun (part of a special group of 3yo in 2007, easily the best crop of 3yo in the past decade, together with the namesake of this race Curlin, Street Sense and Rags to Riches, and below their level there were Any Given Saturday, Tiago, Scat Daddy, Circular Quay). After two eye-catching wins on off track, Easter Gift appears to be even better on a fast track, and second time going long is a great handicapping angle. Easter Gift will finish ahead of Street Life by open lengths.
Fred Reardon More than 1 year ago
That was a great group in 07. Don't forget Nobiz Like Shobiz, a Multiple graded stakes winner on dirt and turf. I think his get are starting to run.
Mark Robbens More than 1 year ago
EG will be short price too and will be tough to take seeing zito is 0 fer at the meet . Reload or Love to Run are the 2 ill be looking at.
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
Reload looks the best. A $5 exacta box with Easter Gift. Win money on Reload if 3-1 or better.