SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Artorius stepped up from a last-out maiden coup to secure the win in Friday’s $135,000 Curlin, a nine-furlong test restricted to sophomores who have not won a stakes at a mile or over in 2022, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Chad Brown, Artorius made easy work of his first try against winners under Irad Ortiz, Jr., who won his fourth stake of the Saratoga meet. A son of 2016 Grade 1 Travers winner Arrogate, the late-blooming Artorius is now 2-for-3 with earnings of $142,250.
“I always thought he could be in the conversation with some of my better 3-year-olds getting on the Derby trail and he just had a few minor things, but we were patient with him,” said Brown, who also trains top 3 -year-olds Early Voting and Zandon, who will clash in Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy at the Spa. “To see him finally start to develop, albeit late, hopefully a little like his father, maybe better late than never. If he can show up on the big day like his sire did, I would be honored.
Artorius emerged from the outermost post 8 under Ortiz, Jr., who angled him to the rail and took up fourth position whilst the alert AP’s Secret established command through the first turn. make it big pursued in second with Golden Glider in third as the top three opened up 1 1/2 lengths over Artorius through a quarter-mile in 23.93 seconds and a half-mile in 48.24 over the fast main track.
Make It Big started to apply some pressure on AP’s Secret approaching the final turn, but tapped on the brakes a bit under Hall of Famer John Velazquez while Golden Glider made his bid to the outside of a stubborn AP’s Secret. Meanwhile, the Junior Alvarado-piloted Gilded Age closed from 8 1/2 lengths off-the-pace and forged his run at the leaders as he and Artorius both advanced with purpose in the turn.
Artorius, under coaxing from Ortiz, Jr., took charge at the stretch call and drew away to a comfortable advantage over Gilded Age and the late-closing Creative Minister, coasting to the wire in hand and 4 3/4 lengths the best in a final time of 1:50.34.
post-time favorite Creative Ministry finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Gilded Age with AP’s Secret completing the perfecta. Western River, Golden Glider, Make It Big and Be Better rounded out the order of finish. Wolfe County was scratched.
Ortiz, Jr. said he simply followed instructions from Brown and let Artorius make one run at the pacesetters.
“He just told me try to save ground on both turns, so I just tried to do what he told me,” said Ortiz, Jr. “They didn’t like the post, so my horse broke OK and I was able to go over fast and I know the one [Western River] and two [Gilded Age] don’t show speed. Those kind of horses don’t have the speed. The other horses went out ahead of me so I was able to drop in quick and I go from there and got a perfect trip.”
Brown said Juddmonte’s patience with Artorius was rewarded with today’s effort.
“We were pretty high on the horse, and he was doing super. He got a late start, but we always liked the horse,” said Brown. “I can’t say enough appreciation for Juddmonte. What a great team led by Garrett O’Rourke and the team back at the farm. They bred such a great horse, raised such a great horse and broke him and sent him to us in fine shape. It’s just a pleasure to train a horse so well-bred, well-raised and cared for.”
Brown said that with a stakes win now on his resume, Artorius is primed for a start in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers going 1 1/4 miles on August 27.
“If he comes out of it in good shape. That was the point of this; to get him around two turns over the track to get him a good prep for the Travers,” said Brown.
Artorius broke his maiden on June 10 at Belmont Park by three-quarters of a length, defeating older company going a one-turn mile and earning a 91 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort. Out of the Juddmonte-owned and Brown-trained multiple graded stakes-winner Paulassilverlining, Artorius was sent to post as odds of 5-2 and returned $7.40 for a $2 win wager.
“Training his mother, she was a seven-furlong horse, but what a brilliant mating to the great Arrogate by Juddmonte to put some speed into a classic distance horse like Arrogate,” Brown said. “I think we have a special one here as a result of it.”
Alvarado said he was pleased to see Gilded Age, who was a last-out winner of an optional claimer on July 4 at Churchill Downs, continue to show improvement in each of his starts.
“I just think he’s mentally maturing little by little. Last time, he woke up a little bit and showed up today with a great effort,” said Alvarado. “I thought it was a really good race out of him and I expected him to keep moving forward by each race.”
Ken McPeek, trainer of Creative Minister, said the son of Creative Cause appeared to be off his game.
“I thought he’d show a little more punch late, but it looked like he was kind of struggling to find his spot and get in a rhythm,” said McPeek. “We’ll find him a spot. Maybe not the Travers.”
Live racing continues on Saturday at Saratoga with an 11-race card, featuring the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap in Race 8 and the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy in Race 9. First post is 1:05 pm Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present daily coverage and analysis of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
By Mary Eddy
Photo by Susie Raisher