2016 was the third year of Blinkers Off…and it’s the third year for the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies!
As in previous years, inclusion on the list is not reserved for just the “biggest” wins. After all, this isn’t the Stallion Register. Instead, they’re the twelve most memorable races of the year. Yes, you’ll see some Grade I races on the list…but you’ll also see allowances, claimers, starters.
Curlin babies at all levels of racing have thrilled fans all year long, and it’s time to celebrate that.
#12: My Curby makes a winning visit to Arlington
I love the Chicago racing circuit, but unfortunately, it tends to be rather light on Curlin babies. Not a single Curlin baby raced at Arlington through the summer of 2015. Watchmaker and Curlinup both entered, but scratched. Hawthorne fared a bit better last year, with the likes of Conquest Curlinate and Melody Lin making appearances. Though Conquest Curlinate came close, no son or daughter of Curlin had won on the Chicago circuit since June of 2014, when Maria Maria scored in an allowance at Arlington.
All that changed on May 13 of this year, thanks to My Curby (My Baby Baby, by Bernstein).
It took a while for My Curby to find the winner’s circle for the first time. He debuted in September of 2014, his two year old year, at Kentucky Downs. There, he closed for second behind Crown the Kitten. However, he would have to wait almost a year and a half for his first win picture. My Curby finally got that diploma in February of this year in a turf mile at Tampa. His first try against winners went poorly. He acted up at the gate, and finished a distant ninth and last behind fellow Curlin baby Towpath. My Curby was then laid off for almost two months…and then reappeared at Arlington on May 13.
That race at Arlington was a $16,000 N2L, a bit softer company than the four-year-old gelding had faced in his previous try at Tampa. However, instead of a turf mile, it was a six-furlong polytrack sprint. My Curby had only tried a sprint once before — that solid second-place debut had come at six and a half furlongs on grass. It would also be My Curby’s second attempt on a synthetic surface. He had been seventh in one try at Turfway, but he’d had gate issues that day as well.
This time, My Curby was a saint in the gate. He stood calm and still until the doors sprung open, and broke with the field. As Outlawjoe and Garrison Commander set a torrid early pace, Jose Valdivia, Jr. let My Curby bide his time half a dozen lengths back.
Into the far turn, My Curby began to cut into that margin. As the early leaders lost their steam, My Curby made a steady advance. Valdivia urged him on as they completed the turn. As the field hit the stretch, My Curby swept past leader Outlawjoe and kicked smoothly away. Mean Intentions chased after him on the outside, and edged into the margin. But, My Curby had his measure. He continued with resolve to the wire, still three quarters of a length ahead when it counted.
It was My Curby’s first visit to the Arlington winners’ circle this year, but not his last.
Though inconsistent, My Curby’s summer both started and ended on a high note. He finished third at Churchill in his next start, and then off the board in two more Arlington starts in July and August. But, in September, My Curby righted the ship. In a two-turn polytrack race on September 22, he stalked the pace and drew off to win with authority, by half a dozen lengths. He also hit the board in an allowance try at Hawthorne the next month, and is now wintering at Fair Grounds. He is entered to make his second start of the meet on Monday.
Hopefully he returns to Chicago next year, and gets to pose for a few more pictures. He was the only Curlin baby I saw win in person this year, and it would be fun to see him win here again.