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
#3: Vino Rosso Rediscovers His Best in the Wood
#2: Bam Bam Blu Rewards the Patience of His Connections
Even though Curlin’s progeny can shine as older horses, most of them — like most racehorses in general — tend to debut at two or three. Most don’t wait until the sprint of their six-year-old year to feel the dirt under their hooves and the roar of the ground in their ears for the very first time.
Bam Bam Blu (Bam Bam Bull, by Holy Bull) isn’t most horses.
The six-year-old gelding made his racetrack debut on April 7 at Gulfstream Park, in a maiden race for three-year-olds and up. Though he had years on all his foes — everyone else in the eight-horse field was either three or four — his lack of racing experience showed. Everything indicated that the Jason Servis trainee needed the race, from the fractious behaviour in the gate to the fact that he tired to fifth in the lane.
He returned the next month in the logical place: Monmouth. Logical, because Bam Bam Blu is a homebred for Dennis Drazin, CEO of Darby Developments LLC, which operates Monmouth Park. However, as much pull as Drazin may have inside the Oceanport grandstand’s walls, he can’t make everything perfect for his late-blooming colt. The $30,000-$40,000 maiden claimer, originally scheduled for five furlongs on the grass, had to be run over a sloppy main track instead. Still, Bam Bam Blu remained in the field, as did six of his eight foes.
Ten and a half years before, Curlin dominated the Monmouth mud. On May 27, his son Bam Bam Blu did.
Bam Bam Blu came out of the gate well, but so did Rough Night, the only horse drawn to his inside. Skillful speed rider Paco Lopez asked Bam Bam Blu for just enough to pass that foe and clear to the inside, something the gelding willingly gave.
The outjumped Rough Night settled well back along the fence after those first few jumps, but Bam Bam Blu wasn’t alone. Win With Character ranged up, prompting just to Bam Bam Blu’s outside into the far turn, with The Forty Factor tucked in behind.
At the farthest point of the bend, the field began to lose ground. Still in hand, Bam Bam Blu strengthened his advantage with every stride: a length, a length and a half, three lengths by the time he turned for the wire.
Lopez waved the stick in upper stretch, but Bam Bam Blu never felt it. In hand he continued to draw away, skipping over the Monmouth slop as easily as his sire had a decade before, and crossed the wire ten and a half lengths clear of The Forty Factor.
Bam Bam Blu held his form into the summer. He returned July 22 at Saratoga in a conditioned $50,000 starter allowance; that day, the race stayed on the grass. He proved he could handle that, too, stalking and pouncing to win by a length. From there it was on to another turf sprint, a straight N1X at the Spa on August 27. Prompting a torrid pace, he gamely held on for second, beaten only a neck. Since he scratched from an allowance on October 11 at Belmont, that race in August was his most recent.
Good things can be worth waiting for, and so it was with the beginning of Bam Bam Blu’s career. Hopefully he returns in 2019, at seven, ready to continue the racetrack story it took him so long to start.