Welcome back to the twelve days of Curlin babies: a look back on twelve races during 2014 that stand out among races by Curlin’s progeny over the course of the year. They are races I keep returning to in my head, and ones that I am always excited to discuss. They will all have a story, a clear reason why they stand out among the hundreds of races in which I saw Curlin babies race this year.
#12: Federal Agent breaks his maiden
#11: Miss Frost wins the Tenski Stakes
When you think of Curlin babies racing in the green and yellow silks of Dogwood, a certain Belmont-winning bay tends to come to mind. However, he is not the only one to race in those colours.
Miss Frost (Allencat, by Storm Cat) debuted at Belmont in the summer of her two-year-old year, finishing a green fifth. She returned at Saratoga, got a stalking trip for the first time, and refused to let Granny Mc’s Kitten by her late. Miss Frost prevailed by a nose. She then made three tries in stakes company as a juvenile, with the best result being a third-place finish behind Granny Mc’s Kitten in the P. G. Johnson Stakes that August. She then took a long break, from October of last year until May of this year.
Third off that lay, Miss Frost woke up. Sent off in a July 10th N1X allowance optional claiming race as the second longest shot in a field of eight, she won that turf mile test by a nose despite being headed a sixteenth of a mile from the finish line. This was enough to suggest trying her against harder; she returned August 11 in the Tenski Stakes. Though I had been up several hours before dawn to catch Arlington Million Week workouts…my afternoon nap had to wait until the Tenski was over. Her first stakes try at three was too important for me not to follow live.
She was sent wide into the first turn, but still managed to keep a stalking place, in touch with early leader Zinzay. She started pressuring Zinzay more coming into the far turn. Though wide again through that turn, it was no matter. By shallow stretch it was Miss Frost’s chestnut nose in front. Final Redemption and Hillhouse High were coming hard on her outside, but Miss Frost held on to win by her most comfortable margin up to that date: half a length.
The win in the Tenski stands out because it was a continuation…the proof that she had picked up where she left off, and taken her racing career to the next level. Miss Frost had such a promising start to her two-year-old year, but never quite got it together in stakes company. Even the allowance win…it was sharp, but who know where she would be able to progress? There was hope she would make the step up, especially in light of the fact that Curlin babies tend to get better with age, but no one would know until she tried. She did try, and she proved her ceiling was higher at three than it was at two.
It was not the end of her progress this year, either. She returned to the Spa grass on August 29th for the Riskaverse Stakes. Instead of winning a tight decision, as she had in her previous three career victories, she kept open lengths between her and the rest of the field virtually from gate to wire, prevailing by almost five lengths in the end.
As it stands, mountains remain for her to climb. The soft turf in the Valley View Stakes (GIII) was not to her liking, and the company in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (GII) proved to be a bit over her head. Still, she showed progress from two to three…and hopefully she can carry those familiar green and white silks into the winners’ circle again at four.