Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Curalina secured her second straight grade I victory July 26, but this one came via disqualification in the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (VIDEO) at Saratoga Race Course.
After it appeared pacesetter I'm a Chatterbox was pulling away in the stretch with Florent Geroux, Curalina found more and re-rallied to the outside, but could not get past I'm a Chatterbox, who held on by a nose at the wire.
But after reviewing replays, Saratoga stewards ruled I'm a Chatterbox came into Curalina's path deep in the stretch and disqualified the top finisher to second, installing the Todd Pletcher-trained Curalina as the winner.
"He took her out and she bumped me, and my horse switched to the left lead," said Curalina's jockey, John Velazquez. "Now I'm unbalanced, and then I had to get after her to get her back in, and I just missed the wire. I knew two jumps before the wire, I was going to get him. When she got bumped and went to her left lead, she lost her balance, I lost my balance. I had to get back on her and just missed it. No doubt in my mind, I was going to get her."
"In this particular case, our filly was knocked off stride in a critical point in the race and got beat a couple inches," Pletcher added. "In my eyes, it probably made the difference. I'm sure there are other people that feel differently, but based on what Johnny said, just watching it there, I would have to agree."
I'm a Chatterbox, sent immediately from the outside post, set fractions of :23.54, :46.99, and 1:11.27 through six furlongs, with Curalina tracking just off the pace. I'm a Chatterbox hit a mile in 1:36.72 and finished the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.74.
"I thought she ran very well coming off a long layoff like that," trainer Larry Jones said of his filly, who last raced third in Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 1. "She took a little time off and was good to go. We set very legitimate fractions and still to hold on, I'm thrilled with the horse. The jock rode a great race, he didn't do anything to cause it. He stuck with the right hand the whole way. She kind of jumped the tracks where the gate comes across, but you need to get the horse back over somehow. That's just the way it goes."
Curalina, a daughter of Curlin , paid $3.90, $2.60, and $2.10 across the board. I'm a Chatterbox brought $3.40 and $2.60, while hard-closing Include Betty, two lengths back, brought $3.20 to show for her third-place finish.
Include Betty, who became a winner at the top level with a victory in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) last time out June 27 at Belmont Park, sat in the back in the field seven—16 1/2 lengths behind after the first half-mile—before flying late to capture third.
"It was a perfect trip—ideal trip," Include Betty's jockey, Drayden Van Dyke said. "The fillies in front obviously never stopped running. We had a beautiful trip. She tries every time. She's such a sweet filly and she gives 100% every time. Running third in one of these races is big. She hits the board every time."
Bred in Kentucky by CASA Farms I, out of the Graeme Hall mare Whatdreamsrmadeof, Curalina has $666,800 in earnings with a 4-1-0 record from five starts. She's won four straight races, including back-to-back grade I scores in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Acorn Stakes at Belmont June 6.