Curlin's Approval wins the 2017 Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park

Curlin's Approval wins the 2017 Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park

Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin

Curlin’s Approval Back in Intriguing Royal Delta

Lewis Bay, Curlin's Approval finished one-two in the Dec. 16 Rampart.

There will be no shortage of accomplished rivals awaiting Curlin's Approval when she tries to defend her 2017 victory in a revamped Royal Delta Stakes (G3) Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park.

Last year Curlin's Approval drew off to a six-length victory in the Royal Delta, which was then contested at 1 1/16 miles and carried grade 2 status. This year the race, which has attracted eight fillies and mares, has been shortened to a one-turn mile.

Curlin's Approval certainly is capable at one turn, having won the seven-furlong Added Elegance Stakes in 2016 at Gulfstream and last year's seven-furlong Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) there. The daughter of Curlin  also has raced well at the one-turn mile, although she's had to settle for second in her two most recent races at that distance, the past two editions of the Rampart Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream.

Curlin's Approval, who has finished first or second in 10 of her 16 starts (seven wins), enters off a pair of runner-up finishes in the 2017 Rampart—won by Royal Delta entry Lewis Bay—and this year's Hurricane Bertie. Breeder-owner-trainer Happy Alter believes Curlin's Approval was not quite her best in those two tests.

"There's more to her than in that last race, but we'll have to wait and see," said Alter, whose multiple graded stakes winner breezed five-furlongs in :35.91 Feb. 15. "I'm optimistic about her chances."

Alpha Delta Stables homebred Lewis Bay will make her 5-year-old season debut in the Royal Delta, which will mark her first start since the Rampart. The daughter of Bernardini  will try for a graded stakes win for a fourth consecutive season.Trained by Chad Brown, Lewis Bay certainly could improve on her Rampart effort, which was her only race of 2017, ending a nearly 13-month layoff.

Unbridled Mo will make her 5-year-old debut after she won both her 2017 starts—the Houston Ladies Classic Stakes (G3) at Sam Houston Race Park and the Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. Campaigned by John Brunetti's Red Oak Stable, trainer Todd Pletcher said the daughter of Uncle Mo  needed some rest after the Doubledogdare.

"After she made a couple of road trips, she came back and seemed tired. She lost some weight," Pletcher said. "After talking to the Brunettis, they wanted to keep her in training this year, so we gave her some time and hopefully we'll have a good year with her."

Another accomplished mare entered Monday is Giulia, a Kentucky-bred who will make her United States racing debut after three stakes wins in Uruguay, including the 2016 Gran Premio Ciudad de Montevideo (G1). She earned champion older mare honors there in 2015. Michael Matz picks up the training duties for the 6-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa .

Entries: Royal Delta S. (G3)

Gulfstream Park, Monday, February 19, 2018, Race 11

  • Grade III
  • 1m
  • Dirt
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 5:16 PM (local)
11Verve's Tale (KY)Jose L. Ortiz121Barclay Tagg6/1
22Lewis Bay (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.123Chad C. Brown5/2
33Giulia (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux119Michael R. Matz20/1
44Martini Glass (KY)Paco Lopez121Keith Nations6/1
55Tapa Tapa Tapa (KY)Pablo Morales119Timothy E. Hamm8/1
66Surprise Wedding (FL)Tyler Gaffalione121David Fawkes15/1
77Unbridled Mo (KY)Javier Castellano119Todd A. Pletcher4/1
88Curlin's Approval (KY)Edgard J. Zayas121Happy Alter3/1