Based upon credentials, Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser winner Curlin’s Voyage looks like a standout among the 10 entrants for the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes Oct. 25 at Woodbine.
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Curlin’s Voyage (#6) has amassed more than double the purse earnings of each of the other contenders for final leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies and she is the lone filly in the field with multiple stakes wins.
The chestnut filly by Curlin won the Fury Stakes in July on the synthetic main track at Woodbine and followed with a 1 ¾-length victory in the Woodbine Oaks as the 1.35-1 favorite. Curlin’s Voyage was sent off as a lukewarm 2.55-1 favorite against males in the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Sept. 12 Queen’s Plate, but faded to finish fifth behind runaway winner Mighty Heart.
In short, Curlin’s Voyage boasts an impressive résumé with four stakes wins and three additional top-three finishes in nine starts against stakes competition. Her trainer, Josie Carroll, won the Wonder Where with Avie’s Mineshaft in 2018 and also conditions Canadian Triple Crown hopeful Mighty Heart, while jockey Patrick Husbands is the all-time leader with five wins in the Wonder Where. That’s why Curlin’s Voyage was pegged as the 9-5 morning-line favorite, and I expect she could be even shorter odds come post time.
I’m going to try to beat her at what figures to be a very short price in a race where she is being asked to do something for the first time in her career: race on grass. Curlin’s Voyage should be able to handle turf based upon her pedigree, but I don’t like to take a short price on a horse being asked to try something for the first time, plus I’m also not convinced 1 ¼ miles is her optimal distance. She did not disgrace herself in the Queen’s Plate, but she lacked her usual late punch in the stretch in her first try at 1 ¼ miles.
Granted, 1 ¼ miles on grass is much different than on the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface, but the surface and distance led me to look elsewhere for a winner and I believe I found a terrific alternative in Afleet Katherine (#7).
The bay Afleet Alex filly opened her career with back-to-back turf wins on this turf course at Woodbine in July, closing powerfully in both races to prevail in the closing strides.
She shifted to the main track after her first two starts and ran second to Curlin’s Voyage in the Woodbine Oaks before running second again in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, the Bison City Stakes Sept. 12 at Woodbine.
While Afleet Katherine was well-beaten in both the Woodbine Oaks and Bison City, I believe she will relish the return to turf for trainer Kevin Attard, who said, “We’ve been looking forward to this race for a while now.”
I’m hoping her odds will drift up a bit from the 5-2 morning line, but at that price or above I’ll play her to win. If she winds up vying for favoritism with Curlin’s Voyage, I’ll try her in an exacta over Carroll’s other two entrants She’s a Dream (#1) and Sansa’s Vow (#9) as well as Forty Zip (#10) shipping in for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. All three have at least one win on the grass and I like that they have different running styles. Forty Zip (8-1) figures to compete for the early lead, She’s a Dream (15-1) profiles as a stalker, and Sansa’s Vow (12-1) should be closing from the back of the pack.
Main strategy on a $25 Budget
$25 to win on #7 ($25)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, eighth race, $25 to win on #7
Exacta strategy on a $25 Budget
$6 exacta: 7 with 1,9,10 ($18)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, eighth race, $6 exacta 7 with 1,9,10
$2 exacta: 1,9,10 with 7 ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, eighth race, $2 exacta 1,9,10 with 7