Curlin has had a baby from each of his crops so far enter the Kentucky Derby, and this year is no different. Despite only 41 Curlin foals being reported in 2014, his babies beat the odds. Irish War Cry (Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers) has earned his way into the starting gate this Saturday.
Historically speaking, he did not draw the best post. Not only is Irish War Cry marooned out in the auxiliary gate, but he drew post 17. 38 horses have broken from post 17. None have prevailed. However, four winners have hailed from the 16 hole. The 18, 19, and 20 gates have produced a winner apiece, with the winners from 19 (I’ll Have Another) and 20 (Big Brown) both having come within the last ten years.
So, despite the inauspicious gate draw? Horses can win from outside, even farther outside than Irish War Cry drew, and other factors weigh well for the New Jersey-bred.
He proved in the Wood that his maiden race at Laurel last year was no fluke — he can rate and rally, even against class horses. Rajiv Maragh, who rode Irish War Cry in the Wood, gets the return call in the Derby. With Fast and Accurate, Always Dreaming, State of Honor, and Irap all drawn inside, Irish War Cry should be able to track from the outside, get a relatively clean trip, and make his move.
The forecast also calls for wet weather on Derby day and the days leading up to it. Irish War Cry has never raced in the mud, but his breeding gives him every right to thrive. Curlin’s affinity for a sloppy track, as he displayed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has passed along to his progeny. They win 18% of the time in the slop…most famously Exaggerator, who won the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Haskell (G1) over off tracks. Damsire Polish Numbers is also a 18% mud influence, and Irish War Cry’s Tomlinson (a mud rating used in DRF past performances) is 443, the best rating in the field.
So, could both post 17 and Curlin get their first Kentucky Derby winners this year? If Irish War Cry brings his best on Saturday, chances look bright.