#7: twelve days of Curlin babies

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
#10: Curly Queen breaks her maiden
#9: Stopshoppingdebbie wins the Washington State Legislators Handicap
#8: J to the Croft, the longest shot on the board, breaks his maiden

#7: Moulin de Mougin wins the John C. Mabee Stakes

As she is a daughter of Cambiocorsa, it makes perfect sense that Moulin de Mougin broke her maiden going down the hill at Santa Anita.  Her dam was a star on that course, and she had a history of producing horses who race beautifully there as well.  Even as early as age two, her connections may well have had an inkling that this daughter of Curlin may want to go longer on the grass; she was an also-eligible entry in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2012, but did not draw in.  Instead, they sent her down the hill in an undercard race.  She then raced three more times at three: all down the hill, and never finishing better than second.

At four, trainer Richard Mandella finally took her back off the hill.

Instead of downhill sprints, Moulin de Mougin focused on route races this year, and she blossomed.  She stretched to a mile in January, finishing second.  She then went nine furlongs in February, and cleared N1X.  Three starts later, in May, she cleared N2X: again at Santa Anita, and again over nine furlongs.  That was enough to step her up to graded stakes company.  She returned on June 28 in the Grade III Royal Heroine, back at a mile.  At 20/1, she went off as one of the longer shots in the field.  She faced some of the toughest company of her career: the likes of Parranda, Stormy Lucy, and Wishing Gate.  Moulin de Mougin acquitted herself well, finishing a stalking third.  She proved she belonged, and returned August 10 in the 1 1/8 mile John C. Mabee (GII).

Moulin de Mougin settled near the back of the pack early, a half-dozen lengths back, saving ground along the rail.  By the time the field got to the backstretch, Wishing Gate had an unpressured lead, and Moulin De Mougin chased along at the back of the main pack.  As the field approached the far turn Stormy Lucy made the first move, coming from last on the outside, leaving Moulin de Mougin in last.  She was only about three lengths off the lead, and Mike Smith looked patient and confident.  Once the field turned for home, Stormy Lucy could not complete her run, and Wishing Gate reasserted herself in front.  A little hole opened between her and rail-running Every Way…and Moulin de Mougin came right through it.  She and Wishing Gate were briefly head and head, but Moulin de Mougin asserted herself in the last few strides to prevail by half a length.

Moulin de Mougin had achieved her first career stakes win, not to mention her first career graded stakes win.  She became Curlin’s second North American graded stakes winner after Palace Malice, and his first on grass.

The plan after that race was to stretch out to a mile and a quarter for the Rodeo Drive Stakes (GI), and if all went well there, to proceed to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.  All did not go well.  Last early, Moulin de Mougin started to gain ground approaching the final turn.  She was in the midst of a powerful outside move when she clipped heels and went crashing down to the turf.  It looked frightening, but Moulin de Mougin popped right back up and started running.  Rider Mike Smith emerged relatively unscathed as well, and returned in the next race to win the Awesome Again (GI) on Shared Belief.  Moulin de Mougin suffered some bone bruises that kept her out of the Breeders’ Cup, but she is getting the rest she needs.  Hopefully she picks up right where she left off, as formidable competition going long on the grass.

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