Curlin's Approval Stretches Out Handily in Royal Delta

Curlin's Approval Stretches Out Handily in Royal Delta
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin
Curlin's Approval wins the 2017 Royal Delta Stakes

Happy Alter stood in the Gulfstream Park winner's circle Feb. 18, basking in the fact that exactly what he predicted played out accordingly.

"I texted my friend Dr. Jim Hill, who had the famous Seattle Slew, and I said she would win very impressively," Alter said of his homebred filly, Curlin's Approval.

The dark bay daughter of Curlin   more than made sure her owner was a man of his word, handling a stretch out in distance with emphatic ease in the form of a six-length triumph in the $200,000 Royal Delta Stakes (G2) going 1 1/16 miles Saturday. Watch Video

When Curlin's Approval won the seven-furlong Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) by 2 1/2 lengths in her seasonal debut Jan. 28, Alter and trainer Marty Wolfson were emboldened to give the stamina in her pedigree a chance to show itself in her next outing. Sent off as the 4-5 choice in the six-horse Royal Delta field, the 4-year-old filly was well within herself as she rated second right at the neck of pacesetter Verve's Tale through fractions of :24.53 and :48.74, with eventual runner-up Mo' Green off her hip in a three-wide path third down the backstretch.

Jockey Luis Saez opened the reins and let Curlin's Approval take over as she pleased around the far turn, and from there had little more to do than stay chilly while his mount notched her first win beyond seven furlongs.

"She ran like she trains. She trains as good as any horse I've been around," Wolfson said. "At the three-eighths pole, she was going easy. The farther she goes the better, because I've had the family on the dam's side, and Curlin just adds to it. 

"She's just really intelligent. Today, she came over and she was so relaxed. The more she runs the more relaxed she gets."

In her only prior start beyond sprint distances, Curlin's Approval finished second to Eskenformoney by three-quarters of a length in the one-turn-mile mile Rampart Stakes (G3) Dec. 17.

While Eskenformoney could do no better than third Saturday, in what was her first start since that Rampart victory, Curlin's Approval was at her stalk-and-pounce best and hit the wire in 1:44.90 over a fast track to notch her fifth win—all at Gulfstream—from eight starts.

"Marty didn't tell me anything but to break and get a good spot, and that's what I did," Saez said. "She broke well and was in a perfect spot, right there. At the half-mile she took off. She wanted to go. I felt that stride, so I just let her go and she was very comfortable. She wanted to keep going. She wanted to fly."

Curlin's Approval paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.10 across the board. Mo' Green paid out $6.20 and $3.20 after she hit the line 5 1/4 lengths clear of Eskenformoney ($2.10) for runner-up honors.

Verve's Tale faded to fourth after her front-end exploits, with Venom Girl and Caboclo do Rio rounding out the order of finish.

Out of the With Approval mare Withmom'sapproval, Curlin's Approval improved her earnings to $307,495 

"I'm just not sure (when and where she'll race next), because she ran within three weeks," Wolfson said. "I want to wait and give her a little time now. I was a little worried about her bouncing, but she trained so good. I was a little concerned running her back in three weeks, but now it'll be five or six weeks. We'll look around. She ships good."

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