Last year, only one Curlin baby went to the Breeders’ Cup: Danette, who finished a solid fifth in the Juvenile Fillies despite still being a maiden, and despite having to rally from well off the pace over a track that was playing so well for speed.
More of Curlin’s progeny join the fray this year.
In news that will surprise no one, Keen Ice has pre-entered the Classic. He will be the second of Curlin’s progeny to run in the Classic, after Palace Malice, who finished sixth in 2013. Keen Ice has been training toward the Classic since winning the Travers (GI) in his last start. The Classic should be a perfect fit, as it covers the same ten-furlong distance as the Travers, that distance Keen Ice was bred to run. As long as he gets a bit of pace to run at (American Pharoah? Beholder? maybe even Smooth Roller?), Keen Ice should contend. The biggest question will be how he fares against older company, as Keen Ice only faced straight three-year-olds this year.
Two daughters of Curlin have pre-entered the Distaff: Curalina and Stellar Wind. Just like Keen Ice, both of these fillies are three. Curalina has faced older once, finishing second in the Beldame (GI) behind the in-form horse for the Belmont course Wedding Toast. That race covered the same mile and an eighth as the Distaff does, and she finished a very clear second. She has a win at a mile and an eighth (albeit by DQ) in the Coaching Club American Oaks (GI), and has run well going even further, so stamina should not be an issue. She has not shown a need to take a course with her, having won at three different tracks in different parts of the country. As long as she settles in well at Keeneland, Curalina is not without a shot.
Stellar Wind, on the other hand, has a few more questions surrounding her. She has not faced older company yet this year, and has not raced since the Torrey Pines (GIII) at Del Mar on August 30. The distance should not be an issue; though she does not have a win at nine furlongs, her only start at that distance was a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (GI). She has raced well outside of California; before her private purchase by her current connections, she graduated at Laurel Park last year. Still, she has run a west coast-heavy schedule this year against straight three-year-olds. On class, she belongs. At long enough odds, she could be very interesting. But, she will be one of the darker horses in the Distaff.
In the only marginal Breeders’ Cup pre-entry surprise among the Curlin babies, Curalina also cross-entered into the Filly and Mare Sprint. She has not gone shorter than a mile this year, though her Acorn (GI) victory over the one-turn mile at Belmont suggests that success at a seven-furlong trip against tough company could be within reach. She does have a win at seven furlongs; her maiden victory at Gulfstream covered that trip. Still, she seems a better fit for the Distaff than the Filly and Mare Sprint, and she has been entered first-preference in the Distaff.
Finally, Exaggerator has pre-entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He finished second in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) last out behind Brody’s Cause. He looked like a winner, but also looked like he got a little too comfortable on the lead, and eased himself up enough to get run down. Still, he is only two, and has plenty of time to grow and learn to keep running. He showed plenty of ability to get through horses there, as well as in his maiden and Saratoga Special wins, suggesting a good shot in a big field. His connections do not hurt, either: he is trained by Keith Desormeaux, who took down the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year with Texas Red.