up close with an old friend

Whisper to Curlin (Whisperifyoudare, by Red Ransom) has long been one of my favourite Curlin babies.  It was inevitable…Palace Malice was why I started following Curlin babies in the first place, and there’s no Curlin baby so closely related to him as Whisper to Curlin.  Whisperifyoudare, his dam, is Palace Malice’s second dam.


The fact that Whisper to Curlin is Iowa-bred only made me love him more.  Because I’m such a devoted fan of Illinois-breds, it makes me happy on principle to see horses bred in states other than big breeding states like Kentucky, New York, Florida, and California to get their shares of the limelight.  I never expected a horse so closely related to Palace Malice to come out of a state-bred program so far under the radar, and I could not wait to see him rise to stardom.

That never quite happened, though he did shine bright among Iowa-breds in the 2014 Iowa Breeders’ Derby.  I watched that race at home, screaming at the top of my lungs as he drew farther and farther away from stablemate Ooey Gooey to win by two and three quarters lengths.

The next month he raced once on turf against older horses, open stakes company, and it was a little over his head at that point.  I looked forward to his return at four, though.  If he took at all after Palace Malice, he’d be dynamite at four.

He never raced at four.

He returned at five.  I had high hopes, but he was not quite the same horse.  In four tries against allowance and Iowa-bred stakes company that year he was no worse than fifth, but no better than fourth.  He moved down to the claiming ranks this year, and found the board again back in June, finishing second among $12,500 claimers.  He found the winners’ circle for the first time in three years two starts later, winning a conditioned $5,000 claimer by daylight on August 6.

After a pair of off-the board finishes at Canterbury, he raced at Hawthorne on Saturday.  It wasn’t where I had hoped to see him at one point in his career — he was racing in another conditioned $5,000 claimer, not the Hawthorne Gold Cup.  He walked into the paddock, hooves muddy and mane soaked from the rainy weather.  But, I could still see the sheen in his coat, something more than just water.  I could still see his sturdy build.  I could still see his class.

I was glad to see him.

whispertocurlinpostparade3As much as I wanted Whisper to Curlin’s first visit to my home track to be a victorious one, the race did not go as well as I hoped.  I was prepared for it — despite his sire’s love of the slop, Whisper to Curlin had never shown his best on an off track.  He never fired, finishing a well-beaten ninth behind Arch Rivalry.

Hopefully, Whisper to Curlin stays here for the meet, and gets another chance at Hawthorne soon.


I’m looking forward to seeing Whisper to Curlin get a better footing.  I’m looking forward to seeing Whisper to Curlin at my home track again.  I’m looking forward to cheering him on again.

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