November 27, 2022

Hemsworth attempts to get back on track in Curlin

Hemsworth winning the Nashua (G2) at Aqueduct November 4, 2016 Chelsea Druand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

The 2016 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga served as a coming-out party for Connect, with the eventual Grade 1 hero making his stakes debut a winning one, and the connections of seven sophomores in Friday’s $200,000 edition are hoping the 1 1/8-mile race will serves as a similar springboard to bigger and better things.

Hemsworth is the lone stakes winner entered, breaking his maiden by a whopping 9 ½-length margin in the Nashua (G2) at Aqueduct last November. Little has gone right for the Bernardini colt in a pair of 2017 starts, with the Goidolphin homebred being eased in January’s Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream and recording a well-beaten third versus Belmont allowance foes in April, but Tom Albertrani believes his charge can turn things around.

“He kind of went a little backward on me and ran poorly at Gulfstream. He just wasn’t doing well, I don’t know why,” the conditioner said. “He got a little sick after the race, so that probably had something to do with it. But right now, he’s been focused and training well, so it looks like we’ll step him up.”

Luis Saez will pick up the mount.

You’re to Blame and Outplay, the respective second- and third-place finishers in the June 10 Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard, will resume their rivalry in the Curlin. You’re to Blame also placed in the 7-furlong Bay Shore (G3) earlier this year and trainer Chad Brown will try him again at two turns on Friday. Javier Castellano rides.

“He’s done well; we’ve got him back to the one-turn races and he found himself and he’s back in good form,” Brown said. “We are going to try two turns again and see how it goes this time around. He’s matured a lot and changed a little bit. I’m optimistic now he can get the two turns. But we’ll have to see. He is training well.”

Outplay brought a two-race win skein into stakes bow, breaking his maiden at Aqueduct before taking an allowance/optional claimer at Parx, and the bay colt is one of two runners from the Todd Pletcher stable. He figures to show speed with John Velazquez.

Pletcher will also send out Thirst for Victory, who will make his first stakes appearance of the season after recording a 2 ¼-length allowance tally at Parx. Jose Ortiz has the assignment.

Small Bear enters on the upswing for Gary Sciacca, rolling to a 6 ¾-length victory in an off-the-turf allowance/optional claiming event at Belmont in late June, and Everybodyluvsrudy posted an encouraging allowance tally at Belmont Park on July 4. Last-out maiden scorer Perfect Partner completes the line-up.