With his win in the Kentucky Derby and subsequent run at the Triple Crown most of the summer three year old attention has been focused on California Chrome. Despite the fact that he took the summer off to recuperate from a minor hoof injury suffered in the Belmont Stakes the media seemingly can’t get enough of the plucky colt from California. Lost in the mix, however, is Kentucky Derby runner up Commanding Curve. His connections have announced that he’ll start next in Friday’s $100,000 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga.
Commanding Curve hasn’t raced since a disappointing performance in the Belmont where he finished 9th and was never a factor. The only horses he finished ahead of were eased up which means for all intents and purposes Commanding Curve finished last. For all of Commanding Curve’s success he’s only won once in his career–that was a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs last November. The working plan is to point Commanding Curve toward the Travers Stakes and the Curlin is considered the easiest of the Saratoga ‘warm up’ races for their marquee event. A more difficult task awaits horses running on Saturday in the $600,000 Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes.
Due to the deep roster of quality horses at Saratoga ‘easier’ is a relative term. Commanding Curve may be the highest profile horse in the field but there will be a number of quality opponents including Life in Shambles, Joint Custody, Spot, Cousin Stephen, Charge Now, Protonico, Viva Majorca and V. E. Day. It’ll be interesting to see if Commanding Curve shines against a field of solid but beatable opponents–if not, there will be a lot of questions asked about his Kentucky Derby runner up finish. Was it just a fluke and this horse has trouble stepping up in class against strong fields in big races?
Commanding Curve is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Dallas Stewart. Shaun Bridgmohan is his regular rider and will be on board for Friday’s Curlin Stakes. Commanding Curve has drawn the inside rail for Friday’s race facing a field with only two stakes winners at over a mile–Joint Custody and Tiz’naz.