Ride On Curlin jogs at Churchill Downs April 27.
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Ride On Curlin jogs at Churchill Downs April 27.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Ride On Curlin Turns in Maintenance Breeze

Trainer Billy Gowan sent Arkansas Derby runner-up through seven furlongs April 27.

Trainer Billy Gowan supervised the final major preparations of Arkansas Derby (gr. I) runner-up Ride On Curlin  April 27, sending the Curlin  colt through seven furlongs at Churchill Downs in 1:29.

"I was very pleased; that's what we wanted," Gowan said. "We wanted to go slow and let him finish up, which he did, so that's all we were looking for, just a little maintenance work."

Ride On Curlin posted splits of :14, :27 1/5, :39 2/5, :51 3/5, 1:16, and out one mile in 1:43 1/5 under regular exercise rider Bryan Beccia. He also visited the gate and proved to be a model citizen.

"He's fit," Gowan said. "After running a mile and an eighth in the Arkansas Derby, he didn't need a whole lot, and that's why I wanted to go slow. We worked him in 1:26 down in Arkansas and let him rock on a little bit, but today I just wanted him to go slow, get around there, and finish up, and he looked good."

"I think he's getting over it perfect," the trainer said of Ride On Curlin's movement over the Churchill surface. "They're going a little bit slow in the mornings but that's OK. I'd rather have it be like that than some fast track that everybody's working blistering times on."

Daniel Dougherty's Ride On Curlin has been first, second, or third in all of his starts except a fourth in Churchill's Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) in his stakes debut off his 7 3/4-length maiden score last year at Ellis Park. He ran third in the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (gr. I) behind Havana and Honor Code  and was third in the Street Sense at Churchill back of Coastline and Ichiban Warrior to conclude his juvenile campaign. He won an Oaklawn Park allowance by 2 1/2 lengths in January to kick of his sophomore season.

The scrappy bay was third in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and third in the Rebel (gr. II) before his runner-up finish 4 3/4 lengths behind fellow Kentucky Derby contender Danza .

"It was a really good race in the Arkansas Derby and last year in the Champagne it was a really good race," Gowan said. "That's the kind of race he needs to run; he needs to be coming from off the pace and let him finish down the lane. But, you know, he's been on the board every time he's ever run. He shows up every race and I expect him to on Saturday."

Ride On Curlin will paddock school and put in a few 1 1/4-mile gallops, plus "maybe a slow two miles one day," according to Gowan.

The colt had a steady crowd of visitors past his stall and outside Barn 47, but most stayed well out of reach and those who didn't already know better were warned by the now-famous "Caution, this horse bites" sign taped to his stall door.

"He's a pretty happy horse, really, he just likes to bite people," Gowan said. "He's a fun horse to be around; you just can't let your guard down."