Preakness (G1) third Creative Minister heads a field of nine three-year-olds in Friday’s $135,000 Curlin S. at Saratoga. A restricted event for horses that have not won a graded stakes at a mile or more in 2022, the 1 1/8-mile Curlin often produces runners for the $1.25 million Travers (G1) on Aug. 27.
V.E. Day (2014) is the lone horse to turn the Curlin-Travers double.
A late-starting sophomore, Creative Minister has plenty of upside for Kenny McPeek in his third stakes attempt. The late-running colt broke his maiden when stretching to two turns in his second career outing at Keeneland this spring, and the son of Creative Cause came right back four weeks later to romp over entry-level allowance foes on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.
Creative Minister followed with a closing third in the Preakness two weeks later, but the toll of four races in a seven-week span caught up to him in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont S. (G1), as he broke poorly and never fired finishing fifth. The gray has trained forwardly in the seven-week interim, recording a couple of bullet works at Saratoga, and Creative Minister will pick up the services of Dylan Davis.
Fourth when making his stakes debut in the Peter Pan (G3) two back, Western River will return to stakes competition following an encouraging 5 1/4-length thrashing of entry-level allowance rivals at Churchill Downs. Ricardo Santana Jr. retains the assignment for Rodolphe Brisset.
Withers (G3) third Gilded Age will also return to stakes competition off a confidence-builder, closing fast to win an entry-level allowance at Churchill on July 4, and the Bill Mott-trained son of Medaglia d’Oro will have Junior Alvarado. Peter Pan runner-up Golden Glider, eighth most recently in the Belmont, may appreciate the class relief. Tyler Gaffalione will guide for Mark Casse.
Springboard Mile victor Make It Big, unraced since a 10th in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and Texas Derby third A. P.’s Secret also have stakes experience.
Artorius merits serious respect for Chad Brown in his first attempt against winners. Second when making his debut at Keeneland in April, the Arrogate colt graduated at Belmont on June 10 by about a length. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be up on the stalker. Monmouth allowance scorer Be Better and last-out Churchill maiden winner Wolfe County complete the field.