TORONTO — Canada's top two-year-old filly last season is picking up where she left off.
Curlin's Voyage heads into the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks with a win and second-place finish off her two starts this year. In 2019, she had three victories, was second once and third in six races, amassing over $200,000 in earnings to capture the Sovereign Award as champion two-year-old filly.
"I think we've always thought that this was a very special filly from her two-year-old debut where she showed a great deal of promise," said trainer Josie Carroll. "This year with the abbreviated season, it's been a little difficult training into the Oaks.
"We haven't had the opportunity to run her around two turns yet, but it's certainly what she is bred to do and wants to do, so I'm pretty confident that we're going in in good shape. She's run two good, strong races this year and we've had some very serious works going into this weekend."
Curlin's Voyage headlines the 10-horse field in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, which will be run on the tapeta surface at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday night. The winner of the race for Canadian-foaled three-year-old fillies will receive $300,000.
The Ontario-bred daughter of Curlin has three career stakes victories to her credit, including last year's Grade 3 Mazarine. And she's coming off a win in the Fury Stakes on July 5 at Woodbine.
Curlin's Voyage also capped her two-year-old campaign with a win in the Ontario Lassie Stakes last December.
"She's pretty uncomplicated," said Carroll, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2019. "She's a very affectionate filly in the barn.
"She just loves attention and always has her head out looking for attention. And then when she gets on the racetrack, she's all business and she just drags her riders around there."
Curlin's Voyage will be ridden by veteran jockey Patrick Husbands, who has won the Oaks on three occasions. Husbands also rode Canada's last Triple Crown winner, Wando, in 2003.
Husbands also guided Lexie Lou to victory in both the Oaks and Plate in 2014. Carroll also registered the Oaks-Plate double with Inglorious in 2011.
The $1-million Queen's Plate is slated for Woodbine on Sept. 12.
Curlin's Voyage will break from the No. 1 post Saturday. Lining up on the far outside will be Infinite Patience, which is co-owned by Ryan-Nugent Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers.
Infinite Patience was third in the Fury Stakes in her only previous start this year, the filly's first race outside of her home base in Vancouver. The daughter of Sungold was a perfect five-for-five at Hastings Park, with four of those victories coming in stakes events.
Veteran jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson will ride Infinite Patience on Saturday.
Woodbine-based trainer Lorne Richards has taken over the training reins from Hastings conditioner Barb Heads while Infinite Patience competes in Toronto.
"She's pretty gutsy and she's the type that’s going to show up no matter what," Richards said. "She's just that kind of horse.
"She looked great when she got here. I think she’s got to be better than she was last time out just based on her having the chance to be here longer now. We're hopeful."
Also on Saturday's card will be the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes, the traditional prep event for the Queen's Plate. Halo Again will chase a fourth career win in his sixth start.
Big Red Mike was the last horse to registered the Plate Trial-Queen's Plate double in 2010. Halo Again comes into Saturday's race off a win in the Queenston Stakes on July 4 at Woodbine.
Halo Again will break from the No. 4 post in the six-horse field with Luis Contreras aboard.
Trainer Sid Attard will have three horses in Saturday's race.
Dotted Line, with jockey Justin Stein, drew the No. 2 spot while Wilson will ride Northern Thunder (No. 5 post). Husbands gets the mount aboard Elusive Knight (No. 6 post).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 14, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press