Every piece is a step, it’s like a puzzle. She possessed the promise, and now the image is a little clearer. Mark Casse, who’s trained two Classic winners, multiple champions and is a member of both the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, recognizes when a horse is ready.
“You never know how you’re going to react to the next level,” said Casse, who said his assistant trainer at Palm Meadows Nick Tomlinson felt extremely confident about the filly’s chances. “I don’t think you could ask her to do much better than she did today. She looks like she can run all day. She has a wonderful family and is by a great sire. You have to think a little about some bigger things down the road.”
Curlin’s Catch, bred by hallowed Sam-Son Farm, who campaigned the 1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner Dance Smartly, scored an impressive 4 1/2-length victory in the 41st running of the 1 mile and 40 yards Suncoast Stakes Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Antonio Gallardo was in the irons for the win, who was enjoying a stellar week, achieving an impressive milestone with having ridden his 2,000th winner on Wednesday, appropriately named What it Takes.
“She broke a little bit slow, I see a lot of speed horses coming a short distance, I know my filly ran a long distance at a pretty good pace at Gulfstream,” said Gallardo, who has won five titles at Tampa Bay Downs and four at Presque Isle Downs. “She did awesome. I watched the replay. I knew my filly could go the distance, and I thought she may be the only one who could do it. When I saw every body fighting each other. I’m like ‘Perfect.’ I know that one would come back to me no matter what.
“The favorite in the field of seven, Curlin’s Catch was reserved early in the race, but Gallardo timed his move perfectly, splitting rivals and eventually commandeering the lead from Be Sneaky.
“I was pretty confident in her,” said Gallardo, who’s locked in a fiercely competitive battle with Samy Camacho for the jockeys title at Tampa Bay Downs. “I saw a lot of people asking, and their horses going no where,” said Gallardo. “At one point at the turn, I had to take that spot. “However, it wasn’t the ideal juvenile campaign for Curlin’s Catch, she found herself running against the colts in her second start in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Woodbine last October.
“We came back here and regrouped (after a fifth place finish),” said Casse. “It looks like she has a great fondness for the dirt. She’s a Canadian-bred, so we’ll be thinking about the Queen’s Plate and the Canadian Oaks down the road. Now, we might be thinking about the first Friday in May (the Kentucky Oaks). We’ve had great luck running out of Palm Meadows at Tampa’s track…she’ll go back down there. it keeps her a little fitter.”
Story and Photo: Ben Baugh