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:
Belmont Stakes day got off to a good start for Curlin babies, with Connect posting an authoritative allowance win. Connect, of course, proved that was no fluke this past Friday when he returned to win the Curlin Stakes.
Two others who raced on Belmont day did not fare quite as well. Curalina (Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) went off the betting favourite in the Ogden Phipps (GI), off her sensational La Troienne victory. She could only muster fourth place. Later in the day, Preakness winner Exaggerator (Dawn Raid, by Vindication) went off favoured in the Belmont Stakes (GI), but had nothing late and finished eleventh out of thirteen in the field.
Both Curalina and Exaggerator returned today, trying to put their Belmont Day disappointments behind them.
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.
Saturday, Curalina (Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) made her stakes debut in the Acorn (GI).
It was not the first time she had been entered in a stakes race, or even entered in a Grade I. Despite still being a maiden at the time, Curalina had been entered in the Spinaway Stakes (GI) at Saratoga, off a second-place finish in her career debut. Dreams of a Curlin baby winning Tom Durkin’s final race danced in my head, but a scratch the morning of the race dashed those dreams. Her connections instead alluded to a return at Belmont against maiden special weight company, but that did not happen either.