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.
#10: Curly Queen breaks her maiden
By now, I have a rather complete compendium of the named Curlin babies who are two years old and up, and am compiling quite a list of even younger ones from auction catalogues and any other data I could find. However, earlier in the year, I was still trying to put that together. It was a big jump, going from getting excited to see Curlin babies doing well to actually trying to keep tabs on every Curlin baby in every race. I started this quest to follow every single Curlin baby in March of this year. By late April, I had a good list going, but there were still some gaps.
On April 26, I knew Curlin’s Gold would be racing in an allowance at Calder. Though I was working a conference that day, I was periodically checking my phone, and knew to have an eye out for her race. Before I got that notification, I got a Blood-Horse race notification, the same sort of thing I get for every maiden race, higher-level maiden claimer or AOC, or stakes race all over the country.
A Curlin baby named Curly Queen (Queen Mama, by Seattle Slew), who had so far slipped my radar, had won a maiden special weight at Calder — the race right before Curlin’s Gold’s race. I could not watch the race until I got home, but I shirked my duties long enough to add her to my virtual stable and get very excited about the fact that she had notched up from a debut in $16,000 maiden claiming company to then win against special weight company at the same track. I cannot help but love stories of horses who are underestimated, and show the strength and skill to prove they were better than their connections anticipated at some point. Though it hardly rose to the proportions of Ribo Bobo, at least not yet, it is heartening to see a decision that a horse should be moved into protected company rewarded with a win.
At home later that night, I finally got to watch the race. It was her third career start, and Curly Queen put it all together. She broke from the 2 gate, and stalked patiently a handful of lengths back as Cookie Xchange set the early fractions. She descended upon the pacesetter coming through the far turn, fought on to repel a late run from Teeth of the Tiger, and got home a length and a quarter clear of that late-running foe.
So many of my favourite races by Curlin babies this year have been parts of stories that are still unfolding. The race was an exciting non sequitur during an otherwise busy day away from racing, and it got me wondering where she would move forward.
However…another reason this race comes to mind so often is because as excited as I got after that race…her potential went sadly unfulfilled. Curly Queen only raced three times after this. She cut back to one turn for an N1X at Calder her next time out, and finished an even fifth. She finished off the board in her race after that, and then suffered a fatal sesamoid injury in her sixth and final start. This surprise win was her only win.