Run one day prior to the $600,000 Jim Dandy (gr. II), the 1 1/8-mile Curlin has a short but impressive list of graduates, including eventual Eclipse Award winner Blame (winner in 2009), Winslow Homer (2010) and recent United Nations (gr. IT) winner Turbo Compressor (2011).
Heading the field at 5-2 on the morning line is Magnolia Racing Stable's Street Life, most recently fourth in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for trainer Chad Brown. The Street Sense colt will be making his fourth straight graded stakes appearance, having also finished sixth in the Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial (gr. I) and third in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) earlier in the year. With Jose Lezcano in the irons, Street Life drew post position 3.
Having regrouped with a 7 1/2-length allowance victory at Delaware Park last time out, Ever So Lucky steps back into stakes company with John Velazquez aboard for the first time. A $600,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-year-olds in training sale, the Indian Charlie colt had a sparkling debut at Churchill Downs in November and next was second to Gemologist in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II). A brief foray on the Triple Crown trail this spring ended when he finished 10th in the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
"He didn't beat much in his last race, but he did everything beautifully," said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who is known for allowing runners to develop at a more leisurely pace than most trainers. "It's kind of exciting to have a 3-year-old with a lot of natural speed in the barn."
Ever So Lucky, the second choice at 3-1 on the morning line, will leave from post position 2.
Hall of Famer Nick Zito will be represented by Easter Gift, who is making his fourth career start for owner Robert LaPenta. Having broken his maiden in April at Gulfstream Park, the Hard Spun colt was a 2 1/2-length allowance winner at Parx Racing next time out and most recently rallied to finish second by a neck to Le Bernardin in the Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park.
"He's only made three starts, but obviously, Saratoga's the spot, so the Curlin's the spot," said Zito, who will give a leg up to Javier Castellano.
The third choice at 7-2 on the morning line, Easter Gift drew post position 5.
Also making the fourth start of his career is the Phipps Stable's Reload, who has one win and two seconds this year. Another son of Hard Spun, Reload broke his maiden at second asking at Belmont in May, and last time out missed by a neck facing older horses after having to check hard at the start.
"We always thought he had some talent," said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. "The first couple of times he was a little green. Then the other day, when the horse broke outward and he had to check, I thought he really ran a great race. That was what made my mind up to give this a whirl."
With Eddie Castro aboard, Reload drew post position 4 and was listed at 5-1 on the morning line.
Completing the field from the rail out are Ohio Derby (gr. III) runner-up Politicallycorrect; Five Sixteen, fifth in the Belmont Stakes; Love to Run, making his stakes debut after beating older allowance horses at Belmont, and Morgan's Guerrilla, third in the Dwyer (gr. II) last time out June 30.
Following the race, which is named after Stonestreet Stables' two-time Horse of the Year, Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farms is expected to announce the official name of the weanling colt by Curlin out of Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year.
$100,000 Curlin Stakes (Restricted, Race 8, approximate post 6:22 p.m. EDT), 3YOs, non-winners of a graded stakes over a mile in 2012, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Politicallycorrect (KY), J. Rosario, 116, W A Ward, 8-1
2. Ever So Lucky (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 118, J E Sheppard, 3-1
3. Street Life (KY), J. Lezcano, 122, C C Brown, 5-2
4. Reload (KY), E. Castro, 116, C R McGaughey III 5-1
5. Easter Gift (KY), J. Castellano, 116, N P Zito, 7-2
6. Five Sixteen (KY), R. Napravnik, 116, D A Schettino, 15-1
7. Love to Run (KY), J. Alvarado, 120, J C Kimmel, 12-1
8. Morgan's Guerrilla (KY), R.A. Dominguez, 116, M J Maker, 10-1