The filly classic attracted 10 Canadian-foaled, 3-year-old fillies that will carry 121 pounds over 1 1/8 miles on the Tapeta surface. The winner receives CA$300,000.
Bred by Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, which also co-owns with Windsor Boys Racing, Curlin's Voyage has a 4-2-1 mark from eight starts. The Ontario-bred daughter of Curlin has three stakes scores to her name, including the 2019 Mazarine Stakes (G3) and her most recent victory, the July 5 Fury Stakes, both at Woodbine.
"I think we've always thought that this was a very special filly from her 2-year-old debut where she showed a great deal of promise," said 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."
Carroll, inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame this year, has been impressed with her charge from the get-go.
"She's pretty uncomplicated. She's a very affectionate filly in the barn," she said. "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."
Considered a top contender for the Sept. 12 Queen's Plate, Curlin's Voyage will be ridden by Patrick Husbands.
Infinite Patience, co-owned by National Hockey League star Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, finished third in the Fury Stakes, the filly's first test outside of her home base in Vancouver.
Bred and co-owned by William DeCoursey, the daughter of Sungold was a perfect 5-for-5 at Hastings Park. Four of those victories came in stakes.
Woodbine-based trainer Lorne Richards has taken over the training reins from Hastings conditioner Barb Heads while Infinite Patience competes in Toronto.
"She does everything well," said Richards. "(The Fury) was asking a lot. She had only been here four days and came into 40-degree (Celsius) temperatures. (Her connections) waited to see what was going to happen at Hastings, and when the stakes book came out, there was nothing really there for her. The heat, the change in feed—it's kind of tough on them.
She didn't run badly by any means, but she was raring to go. She didn't want to have any part of rating. But she galloped out strongly in that race. She didn't hit the wire and drop the bit."
Richards believes Infinite Patience will be even better come Saturday.
"She's pretty gutsy and she's the type that's going to show up no matter what. She's just that kind of horse," said Richards. "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."
Emma-Jayne Wilson, in search of her first Oaks victory, will partner with the filly.
Mizzen Beau, a two-time winner from seven starts, represented the first starter in Canada for trainer Norm Casse when she went postward in the Fury Stakes.
The son of Hall of Fame inductee Mark Casse watched the daughter of Mizzen Mast break her maiden in her third start, a 2 3/4-length score over seven furlongs on the Keeneland main track in October last year.
Owned by Daniel Investment Holdings, Mizzen Beau launched her 3-year-old campaign with a winning effort March 7 Tampa Bay Downs.
Steve Bahen picks up the mount and will be looking for back-to-back scores in the Oaks after winning last year with Desert Ride.
Pilot Episode is a full sister to 2018 Sovereign Award winner Bold Script, and her dam, Original Script, was third in the 2013 Oaks and won the Bison City, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara.
The Chiefswood Stables homebred, who will be making her Canadian debut after four U.S. starts, had her best result March 15 with a runner-up effort in Florida. The Oaks is the daughter of Speightstown 's first stakes engagement.
Luis Contreras, who went on to win the Queen's Plate with both of his past Oaks winners (Holy Helena and Inglorious), gets the call on Saturday for trainer Shug McGaughey.
Afleet Katherine, unbeaten in two starts, Bayou Belle, who broke her maiden July 23 at Woodbine, Lasting Union, bred by the late Bill Graham, Ontario Lassie Stakes, and Princess Elizabeth Stakes runner-up Merveilleux, multiple stakes-placed November Fog, and Fury Stakes runner-up Justleaveitalone round out the field.
Trainer Kevin Attard sends out the uncoupled trio of Afleet Katherine, Merveilleux, and Bayou Belle.
Al and Bill Ulwelling own Merveilleux and Bayou Belle.
"I thought Merveilleux ran a little disappointing last time (finishing fourth in the grade 3 Selene)," Attard said. "I'm making a change in equipment with her, we're adding blinkers. If she runs to the way she's worked—her works have been excellent—we're going to be in a good situation.
"In the Selene, there looked like there was a lot of speed in the race and it transpired a lot differently. We're going to ensure that doesn't happen this time around. Bayou Belle is in there to make sure the tempo is hot, and there's no secret what her job is. She'll go as far as she can for as long as she can. If they don't challenge her, we've all seen rabbits steal races and win them. She's coming into the race in great shape off a big win.
"Afleet Katherine is 2-for-2, and has stepped up each time," said Attard, of Terra Racing Stable's filly, a homebred half sister to graded stakes winner Amalfi Coast. "She hasn't been a stellar work horse in the morning, but she knows when the gates open it means business. She's stretching out to two turns for the first time, she's not as seasoned as other fillies in the race, and she's trying Tapeta for the first time. So, a lot of new challenges, but what can you say? She's 2-for-2."
The Woodbine Oaks is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, which continues at the Toronto oval with the 1 1/16-mile Bison City Stakes Sept. 12 and concludes with the Oct. 25 Wonder Where Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Woodbine, Saturday, August 15, 2020, Race 10
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Curlin's Voyage (ON) Patrick Husbands 121 Josie Carroll 3/1 2 2Pilot Episode (ON) Luis Contreras 121 Claude R. McGaughey III 20/1 3 3Bayou Belle (ON) Rafael Manuel Hernandez 121 Kevin Attard 20/1 4 4November Fog (ON) Simon P. Husbands 121 Sarah Ritchie 20/1 5 5Afleet Katherine (ON) Justin Stein 121 Kevin Attard 15/1 6 6Mizzen Beau (ON) Steven Ronald Bahen 121 Norm W. Casse 12/1 7 7Merveilleux (ON) Rafael Manuel Hernandez 121 Kevin Attard 4/1 8 8Lasting Union (ON) Kazushi Kimura 121 Michael R. Matz 5/2 9 9Justleaveitalone (ON) David Moran 121 John Mattine 8/1 10 10Infinite Patience (BC) Emma-Jayne Wilson 121 Lorne Richards 6/1
Woodbine, Saturday, August 15, 2020, Race 10