#12: the fourth annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies


Blinkers Off has now been around for almost four years.  That means four Arlington Millions, four Kentucky Derbies, four Jim Edgar Illinois Futurities.  It also means — for the next twelve days — it’s time for the fourth annual Twelve Days of Curlin Babies!

As always, this is not just a countdown of his progeny’s biggest wins.  It’s easy enough, after all, to hear when they sound the trumpets for his graded stakes winners, his million-dollar maiden winners.  Instead, these are the ones that, at year’s end, I find to be his most memorable.  Some are graded stakes; others happened at more workmanlike levels.  Some are wins; others are races that a Curlin baby didn’t necessarily win, but their presence made the race that much more special.

Let’s begin our look back at the best moments of another year in Curlin babies!

#12: Stellar Wind Wins the First Beholder Mile

Last year, Stellar Wind (Evening Star, by Malibu Moon) began her four-year-old campaign in the Vanity Mile (G1).  Though Beholder held the John Sadler trainee well at bay that day, Stellar Wind turned the tables in the Clement Hirsch (G1), and once again carried owner Hronis Racing’s silks to the winners’ circle in the Zenyatta (G1).

This year, the Vanity Mile was renamed for Beholder, and Stellar Wind called on all her grit to join its winner’s roll.

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Curlin babies at the Breeders’ Cup!

The Breeders’ Cup gets underway tomorrow.  Just like every year since 2013, when Palace Malice ran in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Curlin is represented.  In this year’s Breeders’ Cup, scheduled for November 4-5 at Santa Anita, five Curlin babies are slated to run.

Curlin is still looking for his first Breeders’ Cup winner.  He came close last year, when Stellar Wind finished just short of nine-furlong savant Stopchargingmaria in the Distaff.  That was Stellar Wind’s first attempt against older company.  A year later, Stellar Wind has grown better, faster, and stronger…and gives Curlin strong hope for his first Breeders’ Cup victory as a sire.

The following five progeny of Curlin will race in this year’s Breeders’ Cup:

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what a difference three years makes.

At this time three years ago, Beholder was already a champion, and on the march toward her second Eclipse Award.  She was already a Breeders’ Cup winner, already a multiple Grade I winner.  The 2013 Zenyatta Stakes (GI) was her first victory over older mares, and prepared Beholder to defeat two-time Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Royal Delta in her next start.

When Beholder won her first Zenyatta Stakes, Stellar Wind (Evening Star, by Malibu Moon) was just a yearling.

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a battle of champions

The ones who billed it as a battle between champions were technically correct.  To many, those words were just bluster, a weak attempt to inject drama where there was none.

Both Beholder and Stellar Wind were Eclipse Award winners, sure.  But Beholder had three such honours under her girth, and was a strong choice every single time.  Stellar Wind?  Yes, she was last year’s champion three-year-old, but the argument over who should have won that award will rage for years to come.

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Stellar Wind: Curlin’s first champion

Curlin, himself a two-time Horse of the Year, has sired his first champion.

At last night’s Eclipse Awards, Stellar Wind (Evening Star, by Malibu Moon) was named the Champion Three-Year-Old filly of 2015.

Stellar Wind deserved it.  She stayed in strong form all year long, and even in the races she did not win, she still turned in strong efforts against classy horses.

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Curlin babies and Eclipse finalists

Eclipse finalists were announced today.  I thought there would be a chance to see three Curlin babies among them.

Only one got the call.

Sure, Keen Ice (Medomak, by Awesome Again) was never going to actually win Champion Three Year Old Male.  American Pharoah locked that up as soon as he crossed the wire in the Belmont.  Still, Keen Ice is a Grade I winner in his own right, and the only horse to get his nose on a wire ahead of American Pharoah this year.  He finished third in the Belmont, second in the Haskell, and was fourth beaten a length for everything against older in the Clark (GI).

In other words, Keen Ice had a strong enough season to deserve consideration for the undersides of Eclipse ballots.  However, the three named finalists this morning make sense, and all have cut-and-dried arguments for garnering that status over Keen Ice.  American Pharoah won the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI)…and the Rebel (GII), and the Arkansas Derby (GI), and the Haskell (GI).  Runhappy crushed the sprint division.  He won three Grade I races, including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and tallied four victories against older.  Dortmund, the third finalist, had a stronger overall season than Keen Ice.  He won the Santa Anita Derby (GI) and finished third in the Kentucky Derby.  He had five stakes wins through the year, including a pair against older.

No, the real bafflement comes in the three-year-old fillies’ division.

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2015 fantasy stable: week 11 postmortem

Another week, more tough cookies.

Two of my horses raced last weekend.  One of them looked, at least from my handicapping perspective, like he would bring some points.  One I did not like given the field, but I sat back and hoped for the best.

Neither hit the board.

However, a once-familiar face did.  Frosted, who I drafted first overall.  Frosted, who went from “sure winner of the Fountain of Youth” to “surely off the Derby trail” in the matter of a moment.  Frosted, who Kieran McLaughlin figured out how to get right and get to the winner’s circle in the Wood.  The Derby remains a question, since his best efforts have come from the Big A so far.  No matter what, his dominance of the Wood made me look a little silly, and my decision seem a bit questionable.  I stand by it, since horse racing is a game of opinions; I disliked his Fountain of Youth enough that I decided he had to go.  It may have been rash, but I can do nothing about it now.

Here is hoping none of my other decisions end up being as questionable as that one.  To be fair, there is very little in the way of decision making that can happen in the short term; the next claiming day is just before the Derby.  At this point, I wait to see which horses are pointing toward points races, be they Classics or others.

With that known, let’s check in with my stable.

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