01/19/2018 12:15PM

Curlin has breakout year with juveniles

Debra A. Roma
Curlin is represented by two of the three finalists for the Eclipse Award as outstanding 2-year-old male, led by Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic.

Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm resident Curlin compiled one of the great résumés by a racehorse, and his flair for winning big races has carried to his time at stud.

Each of his first five crops of racing age featured a U.S. classic winner or classic-placed runner, including 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice from his debut crop and 2015 Preakness winner Exaggerator. He filled out the exacta of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with winner Good Magic and runner-up Solomini. He added an Eclipse Award winner in 2015 in champion sophomore filly Stellar Wind, and three of his top five earners in 2017 were handicap division runners.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the 14-year-old Smart Strike horse sat atop the Beyer Sire Performance Standings, both in the number of horses to earn a 100-plus dirt Beyer Speed Figure in 2017 (seven) and the number of times they did it (13). He also was second by the number of 90-plus dirt Beyers achieved by his runners last year, at 46.

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On the strength of his 1-2 finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Curlin also finished second by juvenile progeny earnings in 2017, with 49 runners and 14 winners making $2,578,994.

“Every aspect of analysis you can have with a horse, he checks an A-plus,” said Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John G. Sikura. “He’s phenomenal classic sire, now getting 2-year-olds.”

Good Magic, a finalist for champion 2-year-old male, was Curlin’s top earner of 2017. Stellar Wind, a three-time Grade 1 winner last year, is a finalist in the older female category.

Other runners of note by Curlin from the previous year include graded stakes winner Belmont Stakes runner-up Irish War Cry; Grade 2 winners Keen Ice and Curlin’s Approval; Grade 3 winners Terra Promessa, Curlin Road, and Connect; and multiple Grade 1-placed Solomini, who also is a juvenile male Eclipse Award finalist.

Curlin had two runners tie for his highest dirt Beyer, at 106. Keen Ice hit the number twice, first for his victory in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap in July, then when second in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes in October. Connect rung up the same figure as the winner of the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes. All three races were at Belmont Park.

Keen Ice reached the three-digit mark a third time, when he earned a 104 for his second in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes in August at Saratoga. Irish War Cry also was a three-time three-digit Beyer earner, picking up a pair of 101 figures for winning the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes and Holy Bull Stakes, and a 100 for his second in the Belmont Stakes.

Good Magic earned a 100 for his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victory.

While Curlin has accomplished more at stud from his first seven crops of racing age than most stallions do in a lifetime, and his dirt credentials are well established, Sikura said his long-term goals for the horse’s career involve branching to still another frontier.

“The last thing for him to do, and I think it’s going to happen, is for him to get a Group 1 winner or a Breeders’ Cup winner in an important international race on the turf,” he said. “That’s just about access to the right mares.”

Curlin stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm for an advertised fee of $150,000.

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Big year for Run Away and Hide

Run Away and Hide arrived on the scene in April 2008 and proved to be a precocious juvenile, winning all three of his starts, including the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and the Grade 3 Kentucky Stakes.

Nearly a decade later, that brilliance resurfaced, as Darby Dan Farm’s son of City Zip had a career year with his juveniles. Led by a pair of U.S. graded stakes winners, 10 percent of Run Away and Hide’s juveniles recorded benchmark Beyer Speed Figures of 90 or higher last year. That percentage placed him sixth on the Beyer Sire Performance Standings among stallions with 30 or more juvenile starters, and he appears as a value sire in that category. At an advertised fee of $7,500 for 2018, he is by far the least expensive stallion among the leaders, and the five above him by percentage will stand for an average fee of $174,000.

Run Away and Hide was led by Run Away, who won 4 of 6 starts last year, including the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes, and banked $306,400. The colt won the Santa Anita Juvenile and the Barretts Juvenile, and finished third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.

Ten City won the Grade 3 Bashford Manor and placed in two other stakes, including a third in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes. He was euthanized last fall after being injured in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. Tango Run was a multiple stakes winner in Ohio, Twin Farms was stakes placed, and Metro Bus was a Group 2 winner in Mexico.

-- Nicole Russo