I follow two niches within horse racing more closely than others: Curlin babies and Illinois horse racing.
These overlap little, at least in the northern segment of the state.
A son of Curlin, Larrymoeandcurlin, has found his stride at downstate Fairmount Park. I watch him on simulcast and replays, but have not been able to make the five-hour trek yet to see him race in person.
Up in Chicago, we have not seen a son or daughter of Curlin race here since Conquest Curlinate took second in the Illinois Derby. Before that, the last time a Curlin baby raced in Northern Illinois was November, when Air Squadron raced in an allowance on the Buck’s Boy undercard. Last summer at Arlington, we saw Maria Maria a handful of times; who knows if she will ever race here again, though, since she has moved from the Jim DiVito barn to Steve Asmussen’s. Danette and Please Explain each raced once at Arlington last summer before moving along elsewhere. We can count the Curlin babies who have raced on the Chicago circuit over the last year on one hand. Four of the five only raced here once. None were bred here.
This Friday’s card at Arlington features something we have never seen stateside before: an Illinois-bred Curlin baby on the racetrack.
Two-year-old filly Curlinup (Almost Sma, by Cure the Blues) has been on the Arlington worktab since May, and has entered Friday’s 5th race at Arlington. The race is a five-furlong maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies, contested over the polytrack. She drew post 7 in a field of eight, all first-time starters. She races in the colours of Asiel Stable for their regular trainer, Carlos Silva. Asiel also co-bred Curlinup.
Curlinup is one of two Illinois-breds in Curlin’s fourth crop. The other is Chicken Noodle (Perfectly Campbell, by Pleasantly Perfect). She has yet to hit the worktab. However, if she races, it would make sense to see her in the Michael Reavis barn, given that Reavis bred her.
Curlin’s first, second, and fifth crops have no Illinois-bred members. However, Illinois breeding records show two from his third crop, the first pair of Illinois-bred Curlin babies. Just as with Curlinup, both from the third crop were bred or co-bred by Asiel Stable.
One of them perplexes. Illinois records mention a Curlin baby out of Bluestem Meadow, which would make the colt half to multiple stakes placed filly Prairie Vista (Pollard’s Vision). But, Curlin’s EquineLine sire report does not list a foal out of Bluestem Meadow, and neither does Equibase. Equibase lists no 2012 foal out of Bluestem Meadow. At this point, Blinkers Off still has some more research to do.
The other has raced — just not here. Curlin’s first winner was in Russia, Curlin’s first stakes winner was in Russia…and Curlin’s first Illinois-bred baby to hit the racetrack did so in Russia. In 2012, he had an Illinois-bred foal named Curlin Moon (Meadow Moonlite, by Malibu Moon). She was sold for $30,000 as a weanling at Keeneland November 2012, and according to the Jockey Club she shipped to Russia that same year. She raced five times as a juvenile, never finishing better than third. She returned in April of this year, and has raced twice since. Her best finish to date came in her last start earlier this month, when she finished second.
It is exciting to finally see a Curlin baby bred here and racing here. I hope Curlinup dances on Friday: wins by a million lengths, and goes onward and upward. Of course, in any realistic sense, that will not likely happen. Curlin babies do not tend toward precocity. Though eight of Almost Sma’s nine babies have won, none have done so first out.
Encouraging for this year, however, is the fact that Almost Sma’s better babies have made marks at age two. Her only stakes winner, multiple graded stakes winner Rolling Sea (Sefapiano), won her first stakes at age two when she took down the 2005 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante. Two of her half-siblings are stakes-placed as juveniles as well: Chadwick (English Channel) finished third in the 2014 Sun Power Stakes, and Smokin Glock (El Prado) finished second in the 2012 Sun Power.
A first out win would be fun…but as long as Curlinup finds her way at some point, I will be thrilled. No matter what, I will be watching, and snapping albums full of pictures.