Curlin’s Honor out-sprinted his sophomore rivals winning the $100,000 Woodstock Stakes impressively on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
The Mark Casse trainee led nearly gate to wire, sprinting six furlongs in 1:08.85 to come close to Horse of the Year Pink Lloyd’s 1:08.05 track record.
A front-running Curlin’s Honor marked the quarter-mile in :22.65 and a half-mile in :45.24 as Be Vewy Vewy Quiet and Verboten battled three-across turning for home, but jockey Gary Boulanger was not worried. Down the stretch, the 2-1 favourite raced away to a 2-1/4-length victory over Verboten. Supreme Aura came from last to show, with Marcus and Be Vewy Vewy Quiet completing the order of the finish.
“I’d been on him a few times in the morning and he seemed like a pretty classy horse, you can do whatever you want,” said Boulanger, who picked up his second stakes win of the meet. “David (Adams, assistant trainer) and I talked about it and he said, ‘There isn’t a whole lot of speed in there so let him break as good as you can and see what they want to do and just ride it as it comes up.’
“He broke solid and I said, ‘Well, let’s dance boys and see what’s going to go on.’ He got there pretty easily and being as nice as he is, I wasn’t that concerned. At the middle of the turn, I wasn’t worried about ‘Raffie’ (Hernandez, aboard Be Vewy Vewy Quiet) or anybody. He turned for home and gave me a pretty solid gear. He ran home hard.”
Bred in Florida by Miller Racing LLC, the Curlin-Franscat colt was a $1.5 million purchase as a two-year-old in training by owners John C. Oxley and Breeze Easy LLC. A newcomer to Woodbine, he is now three-for-four in his career with a perfect sprint record.
Cutting back in distance for the Woodstock after a 10th place finish in the 1-1/16 mile Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March, Curlin’s Honor was sent postward as the bettor’s choice and paid $6.30, $3.10 and $2.40. He combined with Verboten ($3.90, $2.80) for a 1-5 exacta worth $20.60. A $1 trifecta of 1-5-4 (Supreme Aura, $2.70) paid $34.15 and a $1 superfecta of 1-5-4-2 (Marcus) returned $52.
Earlier on the program in the prep race for the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes later this month, multiple-graded stakes winning millionaire Are You Kidding Me won his season’s debut overtaking Black Sea in the stretch and holding off Melmich, who had tracked pacesetter and defending Eclipse champion Dragon Bay then rallied inside to finish second.
Sent postward as the 9-5 favourite, Are You Kidding Me won the 1-1/16 mile allowance in 1:44.43 with Rafael Hernandez aboard for owners Michael Riordan, Ronald Kirk and John Bates.
The Roger Attfield trainee previously won back-to-back editions of the Eclipse in 2015 and 2016, and missed by just a neck last year.
This year’s Eclipse will headline the on-track action at the Greenwood Stakes event on Saturday, May 26 at Woodbine. For more information or to purchase tickets to the fashion-forward social affair, visit www.greenwoodstakes.com.