The goal for any young athlete is of course to be good at what you do. As time goes by, the ultimate objective is to get better. That means the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 4 is important for more reasons than a trip to the winner’s circle.
When those promising two-year-old colts line up at Keeneland for a run at some nice purse money and the thrill of grade 1 victory, most have future endeavors in mind as well. Triple Crown race glory and other “big” events lie ahead after the calendar turns. Curly Jack is one of those runners that hopes to have the sun beginning to rise come Future Stars Friday.
A very promising son of Good Magic, Curly Jack has already demonstrated some eyebrow-raising runs during his young career. A four-length win at Churchill Downs on June 2 in his first career start got hearts racing right out of the gate. A compromising fifth-place finish in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga and a narrow loss by a head at Ellis Park followed but the potential was obvious to trainer Tom Amoss.
Deciding to run back at Churchill on September 17 in the grade 3 Iroquois Stakes as a measuring stick, Jack stood especially tall and rewarded his conditioner with an impressive score. Shuffled back early in a nine-horse field, Curly Jack maneuvered through traffic down the backside under jockey Edgar Morales. Swinging four-wide turning for home, there proved to be plenty in the tank as Jack made the lead and cleared the wire a length in front.
“Winning a graded stakes race at two turns was a flattering statement for Curly Jack”, says Amoss. “The Iroquois is the same distance as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and we think that bodes well, but we understand he is still a work in progress.”
With over 4,000 wins as a Thoroughbred trainer, Amoss understands how to build a winner. The materials are there for a solid structure with this colt. The New Orleans native is now in the architectural stage with the Juvenile as the next page in the drawings.
“We are trying to teach him how to compete”, says Amoss, winner of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks with Serengeti Empress. “We are doing some different things on the training track to educate him, but some of it you have to race into him. We decided to train up to the Breeders’ Cup so he would be both sharp and fit.”
Facing a large field with heavy hitters like Cave Rock, Forte, and Blazing Sevens, there is no doubt Curly Jack will be taking his toughest test. Amoss obviously will be in it to win it, but at the same time, the crafty conditioner sees the bigger building picture.
“I really like this horse but I know he needs to improve moving forward”, says Amoss. “Curly Jack has the capabilities to be a really nice three-year-old. He is part of a good crop of young horses and these are some proud times for our stable when you think about competing in the Breeders’ Cup and hopefully beyond.”