goodbye, Diversy Harbor.

We lost one of my favourite horses this week.

I have followed Diversy Harbor since her the beginning of her racing career, and she appeared in the very first “This Week In Curlin Babies” I ever wrote.  She always stood out as one of my favourites among the Curlin babies.  Despite a clerical error in the spelling, she was named after a place here in Chicago.  Her deep closing running style made her fun to watch.  Being out of Motokiks, half to the likes of Keertana and Snow Top Mountain, she was bred to run all day.  And, as she proved with her strong second-place finish in the ten-furlong American Oaks (GI) last year, she very much could.

Her running style made her fun to watch, though it so often made her the bridesmaid.  She finished second in the American Oaks behind Room Service, who moved first.  The same thing had happened before, in the Providencia.  It happened later, in the Autumn Miss, in the Robert J. Frankel.  She loved that Santa Anita grass, she ran so hard late, and kept coming just short.

Things came out a bit differently for her in the Buena Vista, her four-year-old debut.  She ran her typical style…out back, charging late.  However, crack frontrunner (and familiar Illinois-bred) La Tia got a little bit more pressure from Blingismything than she could handle.  Gary Stevens timed his move on Diversy Harbor just right, and she got up to win just in time.  After so many close calls, she finally got her day.

Given her breeding, I could not wait for Diversy Harbor to continue on as an older horse, and for her to go longer yet.  On April 18, she entered the Santa Barbara Handicap.  She stretched to a mile and a quarter for the first time since that American Oaks, and I had never been so excited for a race of hers.

As excited as I was for it, it happened just minutes before the Illinois Derby, so I was running around Hawthorne in a tizzy trying to cover it.  I was looking forward to catching the replay later, and watching her excel at the sort of long-distance race for which I loved her all along.

She never got the chance to shine.  Coming out of the far turn, before the stretch drive where she always does so well, Gary Stevens had pulled her up, and she was going off in the van.  I found out about her injury just before the gates opened for the Illinois Derby, and my worry made it impossible to get caught up in Conquest Curlinate’s run until hours later, when it sounded like Diversy Harbor would possibly be okay.  My mind will forever link those two races.

For a while, it looked like she would make it.  She looked good walking a few days after her surgery, but had a setback last week.  Her injured foot had become infected under the cast, and her good one had begun to rotate.  Based on that update, it sounded like she may have been just a little too tough a patient.  Maybe that same tenacity she showed in the San Clemente, the Santa Ana, those times she didn’t have enough pace but made her best effort to close into it anyway?  Maybe she showed that in her recovery as well, tried to stay calm and keep going despite the circumstances.  How did she know it would hurt her in the end?

I’m so thankful that Glen Hill did everything that they could for Diversy Harbor.  I’m so thankful that they tried, and thankful that they kept fans like me updated on her progress.  I just wish things had gone differently anywhere along the line.  I wanted to see what Diversy Harbor could have done as an older horse, what she could have done stretching out to those longer distances.  I wanted to see, in a few years, how her beautifully bred foals would do on the racetrack.  I’ve spent the last year and a half following her eagerly, enjoying her races, and looking forward to all the great things she would do in the future.  Her story has ended far sooner than I ever thought it would.

Rest in peace, Diversy Harbor.  You made me happy, and I know you made a lot of other people very happy.  I miss you.  I love you.

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