post 17 in 2017?

Curlin has had a baby from each of his crops so far enter the Kentucky Derby, and this year is no different.  Despite only 41 Curlin foals being reported in 2014, his babies beat the odds.  Irish War Cry (Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers) has earned his way into the starting gate this Saturday.

Historically speaking, he did not draw the best post.  Not only is Irish War Cry marooned out in the auxiliary gate, but he drew post 17.  38 horses have broken from post 17.  None have prevailed.  However, four winners have hailed from the 16 hole.  The 18, 19, and 20 gates have produced a winner apiece, with the winners from 19 (I’ll Have Another) and 20 (Big Brown) both having come within the last ten years.

So, despite the inauspicious gate draw?  Horses can win from outside, even farther outside than Irish War Cry drew, and other factors weigh well for the New Jersey-bred.

He proved in the Wood that his maiden race at Laurel last year was no fluke — he can rate and rally, even against class horses.  Rajiv Maragh, who rode Irish War Cry in the Wood, gets the return call in the Derby.  With Fast and Accurate, Always Dreaming, State of Honor, and Irap all drawn inside, Irish War Cry should be able to track from the outside, get a relatively clean trip, and make his move.

The forecast also calls for wet weather on Derby day and the days leading up to it.  Irish War Cry has never raced in the mud, but his breeding gives him every right to thrive.  Curlin’s affinity for a sloppy track, as he displayed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has passed along to his progeny.  They win 18% of the time in the slop…most famously Exaggerator, who won the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Haskell (G1) over off tracks.  Damsire Polish Numbers is also a 18% mud influence, and Irish War Cry’s Tomlinson (a mud rating used in DRF past performances) is 443, the best rating in the field.

So, could both post 17 and Curlin get their first Kentucky Derby winners this year?  If Irish War Cry brings his best on Saturday, chances look bright.

asking once again: which Irish War Cry?

After he won the Holy Bull, I asked, almost hypothetically…”which Irish War Cry?

That day, the answer seemed simple.  Irish War Cry (Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers) sent to the front, and he won easily.  The frontrunning one from the Marylander came back to play, as opposed to the late running Irish War Cry who broke his maiden so impressively at Laurel.

The picture got blurrier in the Fountain of Youth a month later.

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the Doc is in!

The Doc hasn’t been in for a while.

Before today, Doc Curlin (Jasmine Jewel, by Mr. Greeley) hadn’t run since last April.  The five-year-old gelding had raced eight times between ages three and four, earning his diploma in a $40,000 maiden claimer at Belmont in October 2015.  That came for trainer Thomas Bush, though he was claimed for $50,000 out of his next start.  That was the last start of his three-year-old year.  He made two more for new trainer Kristen Mulhall, missing the board in both of them.

All of those starts had come out east.  Today, not only did Doc Curlin emerge ten months older, but he got a change of course.  He still ran under Mulhall’s care.  But, instead of the old familiar strains of New York or Gulfstream, he tried the hill at Santa Anita.

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Curlin’s Image sees victory

Breeding horses isn’t an exact science.  After all, the adage involves breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best, not knowing you’ll get the best.  But, if one stallion keeps providing solid horses when bred to a mare or her family, why not stick with what works?

Curlin’s Image (Image of Mom, by Halo’s Image) already has a few close relatives by Curlin.

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battle of the Curlin babies at Laurel

Yesterday’s Marylander Stakes featured a battle of two of Curlin’s most promising two-year-old sons.

Irish War Cry (Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers) had already proven himself once over the Laurel dirt.  He debuted in a maiden special weight, drawn far outside in a six-furlong maiden special weight sprint on November 11.  He rallied from well off the pace, and though he was green, he won with ease.  It was a good enough debut to get him into Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager as the only son of Curlin included.  The Marylander would be his second career start, his first against winners.

Undulated (Polly Alexander, by Foxhound) had run three times.  He made an impressive winning debut on turf at Laurel, finished second in the Laurel Futurity (also on turf) next out, then graduated to the ranks of the stakes winners by taking the Swynford Stakes over Woodbine’s Tapeta.  In the Marylander Stakes, he stretched to seven furlongs for the first time and tried conventional dirt for the first time.  Everyone else came into the race with form over dirt — specifically, the dirt at Laurel — leaving him with something to prove.

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#1: the third annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies

Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies, where we celebrate the twelve most memorable races from Curlin’s progeny throughout 2016.  Through all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones that keep reappearing in my mind.

#12: My Curby makes a winning visit to Arlington
#11: Reversiontothemean finds the wire just in time
#10: Theogony goes long in the Rags to Riches
#9: Barbara’s Smile soars against the boys
#8: Fireball Merlin and Copperplate go clockwise
#7: Undulated debuts without fear
#6 Stellar Wind defeats a champion in the Clement Hirsch
#5 Connect wins the race named after his sire
#4: Exaggerator matches his sire’s feat
#3 Solar Maximus steps up in class
#2 Keen Ice justifies an ambitious spot

#1: Captured fights back

Putting Captured (Alluring, by A. P. Indy) at the head of this list was easy.  Choosing the race was difficult.

In fourteen starts this year, the five-year-old gelding won six times.  He could win by daylight.  He could win by a neck.  As long as Captured got two turns over his beloved Penn National dirt, he would be a force.

His finest hour this year came on July 7.

Continue reading “#1: the third annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies”

#2: the third annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies

Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies, where we celebrate the twelve most memorable races from Curlin’s progeny throughout 2016.  Through all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones that keep reappearing in my mind.

#12: My Curby makes a winning visit to Arlington
#11: Reversiontothemean finds the wire just in time
#10: Theogony goes long in the Rags to Riches
#9: Barbara’s Smile soars against the boys
#8: Fireball Merlin and Copperplate go clockwise
#7: Undulated debuts without fear
#6 Stellar Wind defeats a champion in the Clement Hirsch
#5 Connect wins the race named after his sire
#4: Exaggerator matches his sire’s feat
#3 Solar Maximus steps up in class

#2 Keen Ice justifies an ambitious spot

Most of the time, the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies are devoted to victories.  However…sometimes an unexpected good race can be just as memorable, even if the horse did not find the wire first.

So it was with Keen Ice (Medomak, by Awesome Again) this year, on one of the biggest stages of all.

Continue reading “#2: the third annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies”

#3: the third annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies

Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies, where we celebrate the twelve most memorable races from Curlin’s progeny throughout 2016.  Through all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones that keep reappearing in my mind.

#12: My Curby makes a winning visit to Arlington
#11: Reversiontothemean finds the wire just in time
#10: Theogony goes long in the Rags to Riches
#9: Barbara’s Smile soars against the boys
#8: Fireball Merlin and Copperplate go clockwise
#7: Undulated debuts without fear
#6 Stellar Wind defeats a champion in the Clement Hirsch
#5 Connect wins the race named after his sire
#4: Exaggerator matches his sire’s feat

#3 Solar Maximus steps up in class

So much of Solar Maximus’s racing career has been a gift, the sweetest surprise in the sport.

When I first added Solar Maximus (Solar Colony, by Pleasant Colony) to my virtual stable, his last line was DNF, pulled up, vanned off.  But, he returned to the worktab.  He lost at Churchill…then got his picture taken in his first try at Mahoning Valley.

That began his love affair with the Youngstown oval.  He won four times in the 2014-2015 meet, twice in claiming company and twice against starters.  Thistledown did not treat him as well in the summer, but once he got back to Mahoning he returned to his winning ways.  It took a few starts for him to get going.  But, he hit the board in his first three starts…then in his fourth start of the meet, Solar Maximus won emphatically against beaten $7,500 company.  He returned to beat similar last out, then notched back up to starter company.  He rolled by six.

February 22, it came time for Solar Maximus to face allowance company again.

Continue reading “#3: the third annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies”