I would never have expected Curlin’s first Breeders’ Cup winner (or any, for that matter…) to come in a two-year-old race. Not only did Curlin never race at two, but he has not emerged as a two-year-old sire so much as a sire of Classic horses and older horses.
Even so, Curlin has had a few very nice juveniles over the years. Exaggerator comes first to mind; though he missed the board on Breeders’ Cup Day, he won both the Saratoga Special (G2) and the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3), and rounded out the exacta in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in 2015. That same year, Off the Tracks won the Schuylerville (G3). In 2012, the year of Curlin’s first crop, Liberated was graded stakes placed. Two years later both Bold Conquest and Keen Ice found underneath shares in graded company as two-year-olds; last year, Valadorna did the same.
He has also had a few good Breeders’ Cup runners, but no winners yet. Stellar Wind came close in the Distaff two years ago, finishing second, with Curalina coming in third just behind her. Last year Valadorna finished second in the Juvenile Fillies, and Keen Ice third in the Classic.
This year, after the unfortunate retirement of Keen Ice after pre-entries, Curlin had four entries in the Breeders’ Cup. Two raced Friday. Stellar Wind (Evening Star, by Malibu Moon) took her third tilt at the Distaff, but failed to fire and finished eighth and last. Dixie Moon (Dixie Chicken, by Rahy) became the first Curlin baby to try the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The race was a serious class test for her, but she proved she belonged, finishing a credible sixth in the field of fourteen.
The other two raced today, both in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Good Magic (Glinda the Good, by Hard Spun) was still a maiden after two starts. Though no maiden had ever won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before, his second-place finishes behind Hazit in a Travers Day maiden and behind Firenze Fire in the Champagne (G1) were good enough to give him a chance to make history not only for his sire but also for all his fellow non-winners of one lifetime. His breeding gave him upside for his first ever stretch out to two turns — not only from the Curlin side, but also since his dam hit the board in the Pocahontas (G2) during her juvenile season.
Solomini (Surf Song, by Storm Cat) had a few things Good Magic didn’t, yet. He had his diploma, as he won at first asking at Del Mar. He also had two-turn experience, as he stepped from that maiden sprint score up into Grade 1 company at a mile and a sixteenth. He ran into a buzzsaw named Bolt d’Oro in the FrontRunner Stakes, but finished well clear of Take The One O One for third, and got his shot in the Breeders’ Cup.
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile went well for both sons of Curlin.
Both Good Magic and Solomini were out of the gate well, in the front flight early down the first fraction of the stretch. Into the far turn, as the field settled, Solomini settled to press to the outside of the leader, U S Navy Flag. Good Magic had the rail in the second flight, in a cozy stalking spot inside The Tabulator.
Solomini turned up the pressure on U S Navy Flag, drawing even with him as they came into the far turn. The Tabulator launched an outside bid from there, too, leaving Good Magic a one-horse flight, stalking, lying in wait.
Approaching the quarter pole, U S Navy Flag cracked, letting Solomini inherit the lead. The Tabulator’s bid stalled out. Jose Ortiz asked Good Magic the question, and he responded, angling outside to get between Solomini and The Tabulator.
By the three-sixteenths, Good Magic seized control, and began to edge clear from a chasing Solomini. Heavy favourite Bolt d’Oro, hung so wide and dropped so far back early, was beginning to pick off horses. But, the pair of Curlin sons sailed into the final furlong well clear of the rest. Bolt d’Oro improved admirably in that last furlong, bearing down on Solomini for second, but he held by a length.
Good Magic, however, drew well clear — breaking his maiden by four and a quarter lengths over Solomini in the biggest two-year-old race of the year, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He became the first of Curlin’s progeny to win a Breeders’ Cup race, and the first horse ever to break his maiden in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
If Good Magic, and even Solomini, can do this as two? If they follow after so many of Curlin’s stakes-quality two-year-olds, they should be forces to reckon with at three.