Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies: a look back on twelve races during 2015 that stand out. Among hundreds of races by Curlin’s progeny through the course of the year, they are the ones I keep returning to in my head, the ones that I am always ready and excited to discuss.
#10: Jess’s Dream is a reality!
People penciled Jess’s Dream (Rachel Alexandra, by Medaglia d’Oro) in for huge things as soon as his mating was planned. Both Curlin and Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness; both were Horse of the Year. Stonestreet Farm campaigned them both, and Jess Jackson dreamed of seeing another star born from his two best horses. It was a textbook example of that old adage, breed the best to the best and hope for the best.
In horse racing, it’s never quite that easy.
Jess’s Dream started recording works in June of his two-year-old year. He worked for about two months, and then dropped off the tab. Then, he would return, and drop off…and return, and drop off. There was chatter that he would race late last December, perhaps to stave off the curse of Apollo, but it was not to be. He dropped off the tab again, and returned. The Triple Crown came and went. The more time passed, the iffier it looked that Jess’s Dream would ever race.
Jess’s Dream was back on the worktab in July and August this year. More rumblings came about an upcoming start…but this time, he passed the entry box. It was a maiden special weight, horses three and up, going nine furlongs on the main. His breeding screamed route racing, but that length is always ambitious for a debut. Furthermore, Jess’s Dream was the only first-time starter in a field of seven. This task would not be easy.
For most of the race, the task looked insurmountable.
Jess’s Dream broke slowly, and soon faded out of view. He was almost walking into the far turn. He remained well off the pace down the backstretch, while favoured All Rise set strong fractions for a race of this length. Going into the far turn, that heady pace began to catch up with All Rise, as Prodigal and Securitiz began to bear down. Jess’s Dream, however, was nowhere to be found.
The field turned for home, and Securitiz struck the front. The horse in the rear finally came back into view: Jess’s Dream. He was moving far better, far faster, than he had been when he dropped out of the frame. He turned down the centre of the track, and swallowed up ground. Still, with a furlong to go, he had just one horse beat. He still had a ways to go, and he was running out of time and space.
Passing the sixteenth pole, he still had four horses to pass, but he was moving so much better than the rest of the field. A mile and an eighth was looking like the perfect debut distance for Jess’s Dream — enough time for that freight train to get up to speed and properly moving. He streaked past All Rise, past Godrevy, past Securitiz. By the time the wire came, Jess’s Dream was a widening length in front.
As Larry Collmus so aptly put it, “Jess’s Dream…is a reality!”
The next chapter of Jess’s Dream’s career has yet to be written. He injured his right hind leg in September, and went to the farm for rest. He returned to Stonestreet Training Center earlier this month. No matter what happens, though, we know two things for sure. His connections will give him all the time he needs to recover. And, even if Jess’s Dream never races again, this son of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra has already given his sport a sublime moment.