#8: the fifth 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 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

Good Magic went from maiden to juvenile champion in one fell swoop last fall when he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

When a horse breaks their maiden on such a big stage, it’s no surprise that people start to dream big. But, especially, when a horse so young shows so much talent, it’s hard to shake the fear that they won’t progress with the best of their class into the coming year.

Good Magic’s sophomore season did not begin as hoped. Though he went off the favourite in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 3, he could only churn on for third as Promises Fulfilled dominated up front and Strike Power chased him every step of the way. Questions bubbled up. Was it just a really good day for speed, as so many days in Hallandale Beach are? Did Good Magic just need a race? Or, was he not training on as well as his fans and backers hoped he would at three?

He got the chance to rebut his doubters April 7 at Keeneland, in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2).

Good Magic forges clear of Flameaway to win the 2018 Blue Grass Stakes.

Hung in the 10 gate in the field of 14, jockey Jose Ortiz urged Good Magic to get a prominent spot. He did, but couldn’t slip inside — he entered the first turn three wide, and floated out slightly at its mouth. He did settle in a good spot through the bend, just outside of California Night, in the third flight.

He began to inch closer approaching the far turn, encroaching outside of Kanthaka and Sporting Chance. As Arawak began to drop away, leaving Flameaway alone on the lead, Good Magic continued his advance. At the five-sixteenths, Good Magic had drawn on even terms outside of Flameaway.

Into the lane, Good Magic seized the lead alone. Flameaway, game as he was throughout the Triple Crown season, pursued doggedly but couldn’t answer him. Sporting Chance and Free Drop Billy renewed their contentious rivalry on the outside, but neither could mount enough of a challenge.

The two-year-old champion was gone. He drove to the wire a length and a half clear of Flameaway. He was back on top, back in the winners’ circle, and on track just in time to face the rigors of the Triple Crown.

Though he never toppled Justify, Good Magic tried. He persistently chased the eventual Triple Crown winner home in the Kentucky Derby, holding second over rail-skimming Audible. Two weeks later, in the sloppy, foggy Preakness, he did the dirty work of ensuring that Justify had some pace pressure. Used up in that foolish yet necessary errand, he crossed the wire in fourth — but only a length behind the winner, closer than he came in Louisville.

Instead of pressing on to the Belmont, trainer Chad Brown and owners eFive Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables gave him a breather until the Haskell (G1) on July 29. The move paid off; Good Magic returned rested and ready to win in dominant fashion.

Unfortunately, that was the last time we would ever see Good Magic’s racetrack best. He finished a disappointing ninth as the favourite in the Travers (G1), went to the farm for a spell, and was retired to begin stud duties at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in 2019. Though it would have been nice to see what he could do as he aged — given that he is by Curlin out of a Ghostzapper mare! — what he did at Keeneland, Churchill, Pimlico, and Monmouth let us say with confidence that his Breeders’ Cup win at two was no one-off triumph.

#7: the fourth 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 2017.  Through all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones that keep reappearing in my mind.

#12: Stellar Wind Wins the First Beholder Mile
#11: Fireball Merlin Carries His Class to Fort Erie
#10: Irish War Cry Rolls Onto the Derby Trail
#9: Federal Agent Makes It Five Straight
#8: Horse-for-Course Captured Slips Under the Radar

#7: Good Magic Gives Curlin a Breeders’ Cup Win — and Solomini, an Exacta

Curlin himself became a Breeders’ Cup champion on a sloppy day at Monmouth, winning the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic.  His progeny had made eleven Breeders’ Cup starts before 2017.  Several had found the podium.  Stellar Wind and Curalina finished 2-3 behind Stopchargingmaria in the 2015 Distaff.  Last year Valadorna finished second behind Champagne Room in the Juvenile Fillies, and Keen Ice rallied for third behind Arrogate and California Chrome in the Classic.

Though Keen Ice’s ankle injury leading into the Classic robbed him of a chance to do his 2016 finish two better, five sons and daughters of Curlin carried the mantle at Del Mar.  Oddly for a sire whose babies get so much better with age, just two of the five were older horses: Stellar Wind in the Distaff, and Curlin’s Approval in the Filly and Mare Sprint.  Three were juveniles.  Dixie Moon tried the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and both Good Magic and Solomini lined up for the Juvenile.

It was the latter pair, Good Magic (Glinda the Good, by Hard Spun) and Solomini (Surf Song, by Storm Cat), who would make Breeders’ Cup Saturday a banner day for Curlin.

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Good Magic for Curlin in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

I would never have expected Curlin’s first Breeders’ Cup winner (or any, for that matter…) to come in a two-year-old race.  Not only did Curlin never race at two, but he has not emerged as a two-year-old sire so much as a sire of Classic horses and older horses.

Good Magic, with Jose Ortiz aboard, puts on his game face before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  He would win with authority, becoming the first of Curlin’s progeny to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

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