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.
#12: Theogony wins the Belle Mahone Stakes
#11: Stellar Wind and Curalina finish 2-3 in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff
#10: Jess’s Dream is a reality!
#9: Danette graduates — finally!
#8: Copperplate finds his place
#7: Curalina wins the Acorn…right in front of me
#6: Union Jackson breaks his maiden
#5: Charismata helps introduce a new voice to Emerald Downs
#4: Solar Maximus goes long…really long
#3: Diversy Harbor wins the Buena Vista Stakes
Diversy Harbor (Motokiks, by Storm Cat) burst onto the scene early last year, at age three. She rallied from the back of the pack to break her maiden first out at Santa Anita, and followed that with another off-pace triumph in the China Doll Stakes.
She had been knocking on the door in graded stakes company ever since.
Diversy Harbor ran seven more times at age three, all in graded races, with five of those starts coming at Santa Anita. In all five of those tries over her home track, she finished in the money. The best of those races was a late-running second-place finish in the American Oaks (GI), going a mile and a quarter. It was no surprise that she would relish so much distance, being a Curlin half to the likes of Keertana and Snow Top Mountain. Even so, she never ran quite that long again at age 3. She stuck with her own age group until her final start of that year.
In the Robert J. Frankel (GII), that nine-furlong race against older, she made another one of her thrilling closing runs…only to miss catching Lady Pimpernel by just a nose. It was the story of her three-year-old year: she was the closer who kept firing, but never quite in time.
The first race of Diversy Harbor’s four-year-old year, the Buena Vista Stakes (GII), looked like more of the same…at least on paper. In that February 16 race, she was again over her favourite course, the Santa Anita grass. She shortened up to a mile, though, and found a group which figured to let Illinois-bred speedster La Tia loose on the lead.
For once, Diversy Harbor got a bit more pace than expected.
As expected, La Tia sent from the rail. However, Blingismything came out quickly too, and set up to press La Tia from her outside. As usual, Diversy Harbor brought up the rear early.
La Tia opened a bit of daylight between her and Blingismything heading into the backstretch, but the gadfly just would not go away. She closed up that margin, drawing to within half a length of the front — with over half a dozen lengths back to the rest of the pack. The pace they set was strong for a mile: 23.12 for the quarter, 46.49 for the half. Diversy Harbor bided her time, still travelling comfortably at the back of the pack.
Approaching the far turn, Diversy Harbor began to pass horses. She eclipsed Winning Rhythm from the outside, angled to the rail, and put away Nashoba’s Gold. Inside the final furlong, though, she still had three to pass. She got the best of Annecdote just past the furlong pole, and then Gary Stevens angled her out to tackle the pacesetting pair.
Time was, for once, on Diversy Harbor’s side. She kept her momentum, rolling smoothly past both Blingismything and La Tia. Diversy Harbor hit the wire 3/4 lengths in front, finally winning her first graded stakes.
The Buena Vista would be Diversy Harbor’s only graded stakes win. She finished sixth in the Santa Ana Stakes (GII) a month later, though beaten less than three lengths for the whole thing. She then stretched out to a mile and a quarter for the Santa Barbara Stakes (GII). After her excellent run in the American Oaks, and given her beautiful distance breeding, it seemed a perfect spot.
That promise ended in tragedy. Diversy Harbor was pulled up out of the Santa Barbara with fractured sesamoids. She had surgery, and was improving for a while. There was hope she would make it, and be able to retire to broodmare life. But, she had complications. Those ended up being too much for her, and she was euthanized on May 19.
With the death of Diversy Harbor, horse racing fans lost a thrilling horse to watch, and the breed lost a filly with a beautiful pedigree for stamina. In the Buena Vista, though, she left a dazzling race by which to remember her.