Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies, where we celebrate the twelve most memorable races from Curlin’s progeny throughout 2016. Through all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones that keep reappearing in my mind.
#11: Reversiontothemean finds the wire just in time
I worried about Reversiontothemean after Suffolk Downs closed. She had found her stride there in the summer of 2014, just in time for the track to be closed except for a tiny sprinkling of summer race days. After Suffolk closed she started once at Meadowlands, finished well up the track, and dropped off the map.
She returned in the summer of 2015, and found a new niche as a lawnmowing longshot in New York. In that first start off the lay she hit the board at Belmont, third at 45/1. She then shipped up to the Spa and finished third on opening day, part of a huge weekend for Curlin babies. She held her own on the grass, cooled off as the weather did so…but then aired at 36/1 over the Aqueduct inner in February.
A starter stakes proved a bit over her head, but once horses moved to the grass, Reversiontothemean was ready to be anything but average. On April 22, the public let the five-year-old mare off at 55/1 in an open $25K claiming turf mile on the Aqueduct grass. Gutsy to the wire, Reversiontothemean finished second in a four-way blanket finish, missing top honours by a nose.
Even off that big race, the public let Reversiontothemean off at 22/1 when she returned at the same level May 15. They had moved from Aqueduct to Belmont, and stretched out to a mile and a sixteenth. Her more recent Belmont lines, from the fall, had been less than impressive. But, she had shown that flash of form there the previous Spring. Her last-out second also proved she had guts.
She would have to find that resolve once again.
Wildly Good Lookin was sharp early, winging it several lengths ahead of the rest of the field. Reversiontothemean was well off the pace, and wide thanks to her far-outside post draw. Though she was never able to tuck in and save ground, she gradually advanced as the field proceeded down the backstretch. She moved into eighth…seventh…sixth…
Bargaining Table, the 2/1 favourite, made her advance through the far turn. Come the furlong pole, the leader relented, and Bargaining Table took over. Reversiontothemean still chased in fourth: edging along, improving, still wide, still with a length and a half to make up.
Reversiontothemean had the jump on Littlemissperfect, who only commenced her rally from the clouds come shallow stretch. She willed her way past Red Letter, who was trying to rally from third. Reversiontothemean kept pushing forward.
The longshot and the favourite crossed the wire together. Reversiontothemean had the momentum, but had it been enough?
The slow motion replay told the story. A jump before the wire, it looked like Reversiontothemean got her nose in front. The win photo (Race 4) bore it out. She got there.
Reversiontotheman has run eight more times since her gutsy victory at Belmont in May. She has not won, but has hit the board in three of those starts, including a second-place finish in a four-horse blanket at Belmont on October 20.
The public has finally realised that she is a better horse than the public gave her credit for earlier this year. Except for a salty allowance-optional tilt at the Spa, Reversiontothemean has not gone off at odds longer than she did in her last win. Owners and trainers have realised it, too; she has been claimed out of two of her last three starts.