Heavenly Curlin goes for first win on turf in The Very One (G3)

February 25, 2021

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Heavenly Curlin, already a graded stakes winner on Woodbine’s synthetic surface, will have another test on grass Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $125,000 the The Very One (G3).

Though her pedigree suggests that she ought to fancy turf, Gary Barber and John Oxley’s 4-year-old filly, a $625,000 yearling purchase, is winless in her two tries on the surface, both at Gulfstream. In her most recent start, she was fifth in the 1 ½ miles La Prevayonte (G3) on Jan. 23. She will cut back in distance in The Very One to 1 3/16 miles.

Heavenly Curlin started her racing career on the grass at Gulfstream Park in Dec. 2019 and ended up 10th at the end of a troubled 1-mile trip. Two months later, she showed a bit more promise, finishing third in a dirt mile at Aqueduct in Feb. 2020. At Woodbine in suburban Toronto she found her footing on the main track, rolling to victory in all three starts. She completed her Canadian trifecta with a 5 ¾ – length victory in the 1 ¼ miles Maple Leaf (G3) on Nov. 7.

“She is a machine on Tapeta, but there’s just not a lot of opportunities for her,” said Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse.

A daughter of Curlin, Heavenly Curlin, bred in Kentucky, is out of a strong Australian female family. Her dam, Taste of Heaven, is a full sister to Group 1 winner Manhattan Rain and half-sister to G1 winners Platinum Scissors and Redoute’s Choice, who was a three-time champion sire in Australia.  

Casse is looking forward to getting Heavenly Curlin back on Woodbine’s synthetic surface this summer, but said it is too early to say she cannot be effective on turf. 

“My thought was always, she’s bred to like the grass, so we gave her another try,” he said. “I actually thought her last race was pretty good. She kind of got hung up a little bit. She’s kind of one-paced and she got hung up a little bit around the half-mile pole. I thought she ran OK.”

Casse also said Heavenly Curlin has shown some improvement in her recent morning breezes on grass at the Palm Meadows training center. 

“She’s trained really well since her last race. She only trained OK into her last race,” he said. “She’s trained better this time.”

On Feb. 14, she covered five furlongs in a sharp 59.55 seconds, the second-fastest time of 23 at the distance that day. 

“That’s not like her,” Casse said. “That was encouraging.”

Klaravich Stables’ lightly raced 5-year-old mare Bacchanalia trained by Chad Brown, will make her stakes debut in The Very One. She has won three of seven career starts, two of them over the course.

“She likes Gulfstream, she likes the turf,” Brown said. “It’s a big step to get into stakes for her, but it’s probably the time to try it. I don’t think the distance will be an issue.”

Brown won the 2016 running of The Very One with Olorda.

Lovely Luvy, trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. for Sonata Stable, will be going in a graded stake for the first time in her 23rd lifetime start. The 5-year-old mare will be asked to stretch out beyond 1 1/16 miles for the first time.

“The real test is do they want to go that far?” Joseph said. “It’s worth a try and it’s time for us to get it out of our minds to see if she does want to do that. That’s the reason for giving it a go. We figure, it’s nine and a half furlongs, a unique kind of a distance, and her style indicates it could be something she wants to do. Until they do it, you’re never really quite certain.”

In her most recent start, Lovely Luvy was fourth, beaten three quarters of a length, in the blanket finish of the Sunshine Filly and Mare Turf at 1 1/16 miles.

“That was probably one of the most competitive races of the whole meet,” Joseph said. “It was like seven horses all within a length. It was quite a finish. She was coming, but she wasn’t getting there. It was like slow motion.”

Gulfstream Park Press Release

Photo: Bacchanalia, (Coglianese Photos)

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