Once again, we reach the last twelve days of the year.
Once again, we celebrate Twelve Days of Curlin Babies.
These are not necessarily the “biggest” wins of the year — Curlin had such a good year this year that even stakes wins would require more than twelve days. They are not intended as the most significant races for a historical or even trivial perspective. Maybe it links to how the race was won, or what it led to, or what came before. Most are wins…though not all of them.
These are the twelve races that I keep coming back to, among all of the strong performances by Curlin’s progeny during this breakout year.
#12: Theogony wins the Belle Mahone Stakes
Theogony (Upcoming Story, by Tale of the Cat) always showed some promise, but her career has been plagued with layoffs.
After a fourth-place debut at age two, in December of 2012, she did not see the starter again for another six months. She was another credible fourth in her first start off that lay, and then broke her maiden with authority a month later. In four more starts at three, her best finish was a second-place outing against N1X company.
That was on October 6, 2013. She did not see the starter again until July 20, 2014. In that start, her first for trainer Mark Casse, she picked right up where she left off, winning an N1X allowance by daylight. She started twice more that summer — never quite firing in a turf route N2X in August, but racking up yet another win on September 14, when she returned to poly.
That would mark the end of Theogony’s four-year-old campaign.
She was out of the picture completely until a return to the worktab in mid-May. The five-year-old mare kept working through June, through July, through August…and finally entered a race, the Belle Mahone Stakes.
Theogony had only tried stakes company once before: the La Lorgnette, when she was three. That was on her favourite surface, the Woodbine poly, going a mile and a sixteenth. She had broken her maiden at that distance, but the La Lorgnette proved a bit over her head at the time. she went off at 50/1 that day, and she finished off the board. Two years later, though both of her subsequent wins had come in seven-furlong races, Casse saw right to try her again at two turns. Still, the Belle Mahone was on the Woodbine poly she loved so much, and Casse tends to place his runners well.
It proved the perfect spot.
The race drew just five. Aunt Els got herself into that enviable spot — the speed of a short field — but Theogony made it to her flank and already dogged her as the field entered the clubhouse turn. That pair drew clear of the rest of the field, taking a four-length advantage into the backstretch.
Down that straight, the uncoupled Malcolm Pierce entry of Smartyfly and Checkered Past inched closer. Through the far turn, that pair hit Theogony’s flank, but the Curlin mare had something in reserve. She made her move on Aunt Els, and poked her head in front as the field turned for home. Odds-on Checkered Past tried to find room. Longer-priced entrymate Smartyfly had clear sailing on the outside, and even briefly poked her head in front.
Theogony would not let that stand. She found her next gear, and battled past Smartyfly. She edged clear, winning by a gradually widening length and a quarter. It was a sharp way to return to the track after almost a year off — and her first stakes win.
Not only was that win a career milestone, but it proved a solid foundation for a five-year-old campaign. Next out she tried graded stakes company for the first time, in the ten-furlong Maple Leaf Stakes. She tried hard, but finished sixth beaten five lengths by Flipcup. Next out, Casse tried her again in graded stakes company, but cut her back to nine panels. That attempt came in the Falls City Handicap (GII) — her first try away from Woodbine, and her first race on conventional dirt. She stalked off of Gamblers Rose and Ahh Chocolate, and though she could not find enough to get past Ahh Chocolate late, she stayed on well enough to finish a clear second behind her. It was a solid first try on the dirt, and a clear display of her class.
Hopefully Theogony can continue to build on her Belle Mahone win, as well as on her strong effort in the Falls City. She returned to the worktab on December 9 with a strong four-furlong move, suggesting Casse thinks she can continue this campaign. With any luck, Theogony stays healthy — since when she is right, she displays both her guts and her class.