Curlin's Approval returned to her winning ways in the $250,000 Princess Rooney Stakes Presented by Hardacre Farm (G2) July 1 at Gulfstream Park, where she drew off from 10 rivals to a 4 1/2-length score.
Happy Alter and Bridlewood Farm's 4-year-old Curlin filly put back-to-back losses behind her and earned a fees-paid trip to the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 4 at Del Mar when she took the seven-furlong Princess Rooney.
After subpar efforts in the Inside Information (G2) and Matron Stakes (G3), Curlin's Approval was sharp Saturday, and rated just off the pace set by Kinsley Kisses through a :22.71 quarter and a :45.34 half. With jockey Luis Saez aboard for trainer Marty Wolfson, Curlin's Approval increased the distance from her to the nearest rival through the stretch. She finished in 1:21.68 on a fast track.
"She had a very good trip. We were right there. I know (Kinsley Kisses) had speed, so the plan was to break and be right there and see what happens. When we came to the stretch, she gave me everything," Saez said.
"Some people thought she might have been off form, but I thought she needed freshening without sending her out," Alter said. "We freshened her with light training here. If you look back for this race from her last race, it was almost a month for a breeze. We had all that rain and I didn't want to risk her even galloping some days, so we were able to catch up with the three sharp breezes and her heart led us here."
Making her first start since winning the Inside Information March 18, Distinta stalked the pace before closing for a distant second-place finish, a half-length ahead of late-running Lightstream, the 3-2 favorite.
Off at odds of 9-2, Curlin's Approval paid $11, $6, and $3.60, while Distina returned $9 and $5 and Lightstream brought $2.60.
Curlin's Approval has now won six of nine Gulfstream starts in her 11-race career, including the Hurricane Bertie (G3) and the Royal Delta (G2). She was bred by Alter in Kentucky, out of the With Approval mare Withmom'sapproval.
"She made us proud, like she has in her other graded stakes," Alter said. "We put the speed back in her with (a June 20 work) in :57 and change. We wanted her to go about :59, but she's such a special filly that she went faster than the designed time, but it didn't hurt her. Then she blew out in :35 for the race (three furlongs June 27) and just has been showing all the class a filly could show. We're proud of her. It's nice to win here, in front of people that we know. I know they'll be rooting for us when we go to the Breeders' Cup, too."