Sally's Curlin: The Late-Running Beauty


There are few things in this world as beautiful as a chestnut Thoroughbred covered in chrome. Sally’s Curlin is one of those picture perfect beauties, a chestnut filly with four stockings and a large blaze. Bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, Sally’s Curlin is by Curlin out of the More Than Ready mare Cabo Queen. She was Cabo Queen’s first foal and a good looking one at that. Much like her grandsire More Than Ready, Sally’s Curlin sold for less than $200,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale ($160,000 to be exact, compared to More Than Ready’s $187,000 purchase price).

This pretty filly is now owned by CJ Thoroughbreds, Left Turn Racing, and Casner Racing. She is trained by Dale Romans, a Louisville native who has trained the likes of Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike. Sally’s Curlin made her debut for Romans at Churchill Downs in May of 2018 and finished third.


She wouldn’t race again until March of 2019, when she finished third in a Maiden Special Weight at Gulfstream Park. She would face the same fate when sent to Keeneland the following month. She finished off the board back at Churchill Downs before finally breaking her maiden, romping by 4 ¼ lengths in a one-mile maiden event at Churchill Downs.


Though it had taken her five tries to break her maiden, Sally’s Curlin’s connections felt that she was ready for graded stakes company. They shipped her down to Shelbyville, IN where she would be running in the Indiana Oaks (G3) against the likes of Street Band, Kim K, and With Dignity.


The graded stakes attempt didn’t go as planned; Sally’s Curlin finished 11th in a field of 12. Her team regrouped from the loss and sent their filly to Ellis Park, where she charged from the back of the pack to easily win an Allowance race. The ease in which she won spurred a lot of confidence in the filly and her connections.


Sally’s Curlin shipped back to Churchill Downs to capture another Allowance race. These back to back victories prompted her connections to try the filly against graded stakes company once again, so they entered her in the Chilukki Stakes (G3). She was able to close on the leaders to win by ¾ of a length. It was the third time trainer Dale Romans and jockey Corey Lanerie had won the race.


"She's a fun horse to ride with her late-closing kick," Jockey Corey Lanerie said to BloodHorse after the race. "She has a very long run. Most horses have a quicker turn of foot but this horse sustains a strong run for a quarter of a mile."

Sally’s Curlin made her next start in the Falls City Handicap (G2), but finished a disappointing seventh. It didn’t take her long to rebound, however. She entered the Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park four months later, but was not favored by bettors to win the race.


It looked like they might be right when she broke slowly from the starting gates and fell several lengths behind the rest of the field. As the horses came to the end of the final turn, Sally’s Curlin finally appeared on the screen. Jockey Edgar Prado angled her very wide and, as soon as she straightened up, she began picking off her rivals with incredible ease. She charged down the middle of the track to get to the wire 2 ¾ lengths before anyone else.


"I didn't want to be that far back, but because she broke a little slow, I didn't want to rush her to catch the group and then have her slow down,” jockey Edgar Prado recalled after the race. “I was trying to make the right move. Around the turn, I felt good when I started to see her getting closer and closer, and I wasn't really asking her. I was encouraging her, but I wasn't really asking for her best. I was like, 'She's got a good chance.' I was looking for a place to go, but the rail was taken, so I went outside and she kept on going."


Sally’s Curlin hasn’t raced since her victory at Gulfstream, but she has been training well at Churchill Downs. Her connections haven’t announced where they will be sending her next, but it will certainly be a race to watch. When asked what was next for the filly after the Hurricane Bertie Stakes, Romans said, "With this performance, the sky's the limit. The way she ran today—I didn't know she was going to run that big. … It might change things. We might have to look for some bigger stuff."


Sally’s Curlin has a record of 11: 5-0-3 and earnings of $379,476. Add her to your Equibase stable to make sure that you don’t miss her next race. It could definitely be a good one.


[Video: Watch Sally's Curlin run from last to first in the Hurricane Bertie Stakes]


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