Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies, where we celebrate the twelve most memorable races from Curlin’s progeny throughout 2018. Through all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones to which my mind keeps wandering back.
#9 Bishop’s Pond Proves She Is a Dirt Horse, After All
Leading into 2018, the race record of Bishop’s Pond (More For Me, by More Than Ready) reads as one that belonged to a filly that connections always knew had talent, but had never quite lived the full potential of that talent.
Perhaps the beginning of her career tossed her connections a red herring. After a May 2015 maiden win at ten furlongs on grass and then a one-other-than win at ten and a half furlongs on grass, trainer Chad Brown and owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC, and The Elkstone Group LLC figured they had a horse best suited as a turf router. That’s what she focused on from then on, finding on-and-off allowance and allowance optional claiming success without putting it together consistently enough to emerge as a real stakes horse. Even as her owners moved her to the barn of trainers Kelly Rubley and then Jason Servis, Bishop’s Pond kept racing on the grass. She ran competitively enough that she never dropped down from those nice east coast allowances — but as time went by, it didn’t look like she was going to advance from that, either.
Things began to look up early in her five-year-old year, 2017. She started the year with a second-place finish as the 34/1 longest shot on the board in the Plenty of Grace Stakes, a turf mile at Aqueduct. From there, a pair of Grade 3 tries on the grass proved just a little too much. In September of that year, though, a new horizon opened. She tried a top-shelf allowance going a mile and seventy yards at Delaware: on dirt. She led at every call.
Perhaps Bishop’s Pond was a dirt horse?
Going straight from that allowance win to the Grade 1 Beldame to face the likes of Elate and Money’soncharlotte was a little much to ask; she finished fifth in that outing. After one more turf try in November she was done for the year, but Servis brought her back on January 8, 2018 in the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes at Laurel.
This time, she proclaimed even more loudly, “I am a dirt mare!”
Jockey Rosario Montanez urged Bishop’s Pond to the lead; they battled between Chic Thrill and Tiz Rude to make the running. Chic Thrill, inside her, was particularly keen to go, but Bishop’s Pond would not let her pass.
Into the turn, Bishop’s Pond inched forward, turning Chic Thrill away for good. Tiz Rude, to her outside, kept up the pressure, with Street Surrender trying to join the fray three wide.
Into the lane Bishop’s Pond floated wide, with Street Surrender just to her outside, and Tiz Rude not far behind. Sky Flower, coming up the rail, loomed the biggest threat if she was good enough.
She wasn’t. The early pace pressure didn’t deplete the reserves of Bishop’s Pond, who responded when asked to pick it up near the three sixteenths mark. The daughter of Curlin drove clear, widening to a five-and-a-half-length advantage over Sky Flower come the wire.
Bishop’s Pond started five more times during her six-year-old year, with four of those coming on the dirt. Her one turf start went well enough, as she finished third behind Elysea’s World in the Violet Stakes (G3) at Monmouth. But, her one more victory this year came on her new favourite surface: she wired the Winter Melody Stakes at Delaware Park on October 10.
That victory in the Winter Melody will almost certainly be her last. After all, she did it while in foal: Bishop’s Pond sold to John Muir and Milburn Creek for $230,000 at Keeneland November, pregnant to Violence. Fortunately, she didn’t retire to the breeding shed before proving that she was a stakes horse after all — and getting the chance to show that despite those years on the grass, she wanted to run on the dirt.