Curalina returned to her grade I-winning form May 6 at Churchill Downs, where she drew off to an easy victory in the $300,000La Troienne Stakes presented by Spirited Funds (gr. I) to begin two days of top stakes races in Louisville, Ky. Watch Video
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Curalina closed out 2015 with three straight losses, although she placed in each of those grade I races, including a third in the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). Friday's 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares marked the season debut for the 4-year-old daughter ofCurlin , who won a pair of grade I races last year in New York.
On Friday Curalina returned to her very best form. Guided by Racing Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Curalina tracked in second as Don Alberto Stable's Angela Renee set the pace of :24.24 for a quarter-mile and :48.38 for a half-mile. Angela Renee and Javier Castellano continued to lead through six furlongs 1:12.36, but Curalina took command coming off the turn.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Curalina added to her advantage through the stretch to win, completing the race in 1:42.45 on a fast track.
Well back in second was longshot Engaginglee. She just edged race favorite Sheer Drama, who saved ground racing behind the winner.
"Once I got my position, I made sure to stay there," Velazquez said. "I wanted to keep Sheer Drama in the tight spot. When we came into the lane, my horse just took off. There was no competition coming after her. She won easy."
Pletcher credited Velazquez for a top ride.
"Johnny did a good job of getting in perfect position with her," Pletcher said. "He rode a very good race."
Curalina returned $6.60, $4.40, and $2.40 across the board, while Engaginglee paid $13.20 and $3.80 and Sheer Drama paid $2.10 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by CASA I, Curalina is out of the grade II-placed Graeme Hall mare Whatdreamsrmadeof, who also produced grade III-placed Dream Spinner. Consigned by Denali Stud for her breeder to the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale, Curalina was landed by Eclipse and Dogwood Stable for $125,000.
The victory was worth $184,140 and increased Curalina's earnings to $1,190,940 to go along with a record of 5-2-2 in nine starts. It was the third grade I victory for Curalina, who won the Acorn and Coaching Club of America Oaks (both gr. I) in 2015. Pletcher secured his third La Troienne win, following Authenticity in 2013 and Oonagh Maccool in 2006. Velazquez previously won the La Troienne on Authenticity.