#10: 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

There was some talk around Irish War Cry (Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers) leading into the Holy Bull Stakes (G2).  After all, he had broken his maiden impressively at Laurel in November, then posted a gritty score there in the Marylander on New Year’s Eve.  But, the Holy Bull would be a test.  It would be his first race away from Laurel Park, and it would put him directly in the path of the previous year’s two-year-old champion, Classic Empire.

The New Jersey-bred would pass with flying colours.

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Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Haskell Invitational Preview

The breather after the Triple Crown season is over.  The first of the summer’s top races for the sophomore dirt route set happens this Sunday, and it’s also the marquee race for the entire Monmouth Park meet: the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational Stakes.  In addition to the biggest share of that seven-figure purse, the winner of the Haskell also gets a Win and You’re In berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, to be run November 4 at Del Mar.  It is the only automatic Breeders’ Cup Classic berth offered in a race limited to three-year-olds.

This year’s edition drew a field of seven.  Though none of the Classic winners will contend the Haskell, a pair of Classic-placed horses will: BATTLE OF MIDWAY finished third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and IRISH WAR CRY was second in the Belmont Stakes (G1).  This space likes one of these Classic-placed horses, and advises taking a stand against another.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of this year’s competitive renewal of the Haskell, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Belmont Stakes Point/Counterpoint

We’ve reached my favourite leg of the Triple Crown: the Belmont Stakes.

Perhaps the most consistent part of this year’s Triple Crown season has been Classic Empire’s path being so star-crossed.  Unfortunately, he is not one of the entrants into this year’s Belmont, as he came up with a foot abscess this morning.  However, twelve horses did pass the entry box.  Lookin at Lee will be the only horse to contest all three legs of the Triple Crown.  Irish War Cry takes one more Triple Crown before going back to Jersey for the Haskell.  A couple horses we saw at Hawthorne a month and a half ago, Multiplier and Hollywood Handsome, will try Big Sandy.

Who do Paul Mazur and I like?

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read our preview of the Belmont Stakes, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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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