Curalina (left) fights out the finish with I'm A Chatterbox at SaratogaPICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Curalina promoted as pair win another inquiry
Report: USA, Sunday
Saratoga: Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo fillies
SARATOGA's leading trainer/jockey team of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez have plenty of reason to thank the stewards after the first weekend's action at America's most beloved venue this summer.
On Sunday, they captured the CCA Oaks with odds-on favourite Curalina – but only after the disqualification of front-running I'm A Chatterbox for a minor bump close home.
Under the strict New York rules, there seemed little argument with the decision, which came 24 hours after a more controversial decision had seen Pletcher and Velazquez given the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes, the first stakes race for two-year-old colts at the meeting, with Uncle Vinny.
Although the juvenile was beaten fair and square by Magna Light, his conqueror shied away from the whip and back in again, thereby interfering with another horse and leaving Uncle Vinny a fortunate winner.
There was less outrage at Sunday's decision, though it is doubtful a British interpretation would have seen any change to the result of the Grade 1 contest, even though the Larry Jones-trained I'm A Chatterbox held on by just a nose under Florent Geroux.
Curalina had been settled in third stalking the pace before I'm A Chatterbox swung into the stretch with a clear lead. The favourite took aim at her and made quite heavy weather of going past though her jockey was adamant he would have won but for getting brushed by the leader.
After a stewards' inquiry and an objection lodged by Velazquez, I'm A Chatterbox was moved down to second and Curalina duly got her second Grade 1 win in a row.
“I was coming to get him,” said Velazquez, who had a treble on the ten-race card to take his tally to seven in three days.
“He took her out and she bumped me and my horse switched to the left lead. Now, I'm unbalanced and then I had to get after her to get her back in and I just missed the wire.
“I knew two jumps before the wire, I was going to get him. When she got bumped and went to her left lead, she lost her balance, I lost my balance. I had to get back on her and just missed it. No doubt in my mind, I was going to get her.”
As might be imagined, Pletcher agreed. “Based on the comments Johnny made, he felt very sure he was going by that filly until that happened,” he said. “It's hard to appreciate while you are watching it live. After seeing that she came back one jump after the wire and put her nose in front, I feel a little less apologetic about this one.
“Yesterday, we weren't bothered; we were the beneficiary of someone else being bothered. In this particular case, our filly was knocked off stride in a critical point in the race and got beat a couple inches. In my eyes, it probably made the difference. I'm sure there are other people that feel differently but based on what Johnny said, just watching it there, I would have to agree.”
Also on Sunday
Del Mar: Bing Crosby Stakes (Grade 1) 6f, dirt, 3yo+
Odds-on shot Masochistic was denied a four-timer as he was overhauled in the final furlong by upset winner Wild Dude (Jerry Hollendorfer/Flavien Prat), under a French rider who has taken Del Mar by storm so far this meeting.
Sent off an 11-1 chance for the $300,000 event, Wild Dude improved from fourth to score by a length and a quarter over the favourite. The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup 'Win and You’re In' series with the winner earning a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint – but Wild Dude is not eligible and thus requires a payment of a $100,000 fee to get him nominated to the programme.