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.
#12: Timeless Curls Marks Herself a Rising Star
#11: Secret Passage Comes Into His Own
#10: Legit Proves Aptly Named in His Gulfstream Unveiling
#9: Bishop’s Pond Proves She Is a Dirt Horse, After All
#8: Good Magic Reasserts His Class in the Blue Grass
#7: Dixie Moon Never Quits in the Carotene
#6: Amiral Rallies, Stuns, and Begins a Banner Day for His Sire
Five sons or daughters of Curlin raced on September 22 at Churchill Downs. Three lined up in the third race, a maiden special weight for three-year-olds and up, going seven furlongs on the dirt. Two drew attention leading into the race. New Colossus (Stellar Atmosphere, by More than Ready), for trainer Larry Jones, was making his fourth start and had finished in the money in two of his three races to date. At 3/2 New Colossus was a slight favourite over 9/5 Destiny Awaits (Our Love Tap, by Tapit), a colt making his first start of the year, but who had finished second by a nose in his most recent start. That has been at Los Alamitos the previous December, but many hoped he could pick up where he left off.
Few paid mind to Amiral (Silva, by Anabaa), a first-time starter for trainer Ignacio Correas, IV and owner Ghislaine Head. They slept despite the class of the bay colt’s breeding: by Curlin, out of Silva, a mare by Alec Head’s multiple Group 1 winner Anabaa, who herself won for Ghislaine and Alec Head four times in eight starts (including on debut at Maisons-Laffitte).
Amiral left the gate at odds of 20/1 in a field of only seven. In the opening strides, those odds looked predictive: he inherited the tricky rail after a scratch inside of him, and came out a step slower than almost all of his foes.
But, jockey Adam Beschizza did not panic. He settled Amiral a path off the rail, just behind New Colossus and Tabia Bay, four or five lengths off the front-end fray four other foes provided. Even as both horses in the second-last flight got keen down the backstretch, Beschizza waited with Amiral, allowing him to inch close enough to remain in touch, but not unleashing a premature rally.
Through the turn, the time came. Tramore Bay, Destiny Awaits, and New Colossus continued to battle on the pace. Amiral cruised closer. The gap between him and the second flight evaporated. He slipped between Franknjymme and Tabia. He tipped four wide into the lane, joining the front flight.
Destiny Awaits and Tramore Bay faded out of contention, but New Colossus kept giving Amiral a challenge in upper stretch. Approaching the furlong pole, however, the race was won. Amiral had edged to a half-length lead with an eighth of a mile to go, New Colossus chased on well enough to hold the place, but Amiral widened to the wire, winning four and a quarter lengths clear.
Since then, Amiral has raced three more times, all in first-level allowances at extended one-turn trips. His best finish was a late-running second at Churchill Downs in November over a one-turn mile trip, suggesting Amiral may have a knack for running under the Twin Spires.
Not only did Amiral top off a Curlin exacta the day he broke his maiden, but he heralded the beginning of a great day in Louisville for Curlin babies. In the very next race two-year-old Carte Blanche (Kappa Gama, by Orientate) drew off to win a $30,000 maiden claiming dirt mile by three confident lengths. Later, in the ninth race, three-year-old Mylady Curlin (Ladyledue, by Slewdledo) made her first start against winners count. Testing the waters in a six-and-a-half-furlong N1X she stalked, pounced, and held on to win by a head.