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
#5: Dabster Gives His All Against Battle of Midway
#4: Campaign Wins Twice at Kentucky Downs
Kentucky Downs epitomizes the boutique meet: this year’s meet features six days of live racing sprinkled from September 1 through September 13.
Given modern racing schedules few horses try to race twice during the Kentucky Downs meet. But, if the horse can handle short rest, it makes sense to try: not only are the purses among the best of the year, but if a horse likes the undulating turf course, they won’t get anything like that stateside until Kentucky Downs reopens the next year.
Campaign (Arania, by Dynaformer) began the Kentucky Downs meet in a mile and a half maiden special weight: the first race on opening day. The three-year-old colt, trained by Steve Asmussen for Woodford Racing LLC, was making just his third start. As his pedigree would suggest, the longer distance brought out his best; he rallied from last to win by five and a half lengths.
A week later, Campaign returned to the paddock, ready to face winners in a first-level allowance. He cut back in trip to a mile and five sixteenths. Unlike the week before, the public sent him off as the favourite, trusting recent form and an affinity for the course over the experience edge that so many of his foes had.
That proved wise.
Once again, Campaign settled far back. He didn’t mark the rear as he had the week before, since Daringly Bold reared at the start, but he settled kindly between horses at the rear of the main field into the sharp first turn.
Down the back straight he continued about ten lengths off the head-and-head pace set by Run Tappy and King of Candy: well within the chart caller’s field of vision, though out of the camera’s lens.
Around the sweeping far turn, the same pair continued to vie for the front, but the cavalry loomed. Campaign returned to view, in touch along the fence, but still at the rear of the field. By the time the field turned into the long straight, Campaign was inching closer.
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. implored him for more. Passing the three-sixteenths mark, it looked like the son of Curlin was shifting into his next gear. The complexion was changing in front of him, as King of Candy emptied out, Demolition had engaged the vanguard, and Zumurudee and Sir Sahib descended outside. But, Campaign still had about five lengths to make up.
Into the final furlong, Campaign shifted off the fence to let the fading Run Tappy past. In his best stride, he closed the gap quickly. He didn’t have to switch out too far: he found room to slip between Demolition and Zumurudee, struck the front two wide in that line of four, and hit the wire a widening half-length in front of Zumurudee.
Campaign has run just once since that victory. He leapt in class to contest the mile and a half Sycamore Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. However, he only managed tenth: speed held a bit better than in either of his Kentucky Downs races, and he ceded far more experience to his foes that day than he did in the allowance. However, he is back on the worktab at Santa Anita; he has posted three drills through the month of December. So, expect to see him mowing the lawn out west soon.