CURLIN ended 2012 as a Top 10 freshman sire by earnings, and, led by horses like the Grade 2 performer Liberated, his runners really started to come on at the end of the year. A month into the new year, CURLIN has already emerged with at least six new sophomores who look to have big futures.
One eye-catching runner came on Sunday, Jan. 27 at Fair Grounds. That’s when the 3yo filly Blue Violet easily laid waste to a field of maiden special company in a 1m70yd test. Pegged as the prohibitive 4-5 favorite, the Susan Knoll homebred raced wide into the first turn while attending the pace, continued wide on the backstretch and into the far turn, then bounded away when the question was asked to win by 9 1/4 lengths. Blue Violet is trained by Larry Jones.
Earlier in January at Gulfstream, the smartly bred Flash Forward, a $180,000 KEESEP yearling and a half to seven stakes performers, improved her record to two wins in three dirt starts in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer. Off to a slow start and left nine lengths off the leaders in a Jan. 3 event, the Dominick Schettino-trained miss powered up four wide into the lane and sailed clear to a 2 1/4-length win. Flash Forward won a Belmont maiden in October and ran fourth in the G2 Demoiselle S. at Aqueduct in November. Flash Forward’s siblings include GSW & G1SP Take the Ribbon, SW Bright Magic and SW Hot War.
CURLIN had two standout winners on Jan. 18. At Santa Anita, the handsome sophomore colt Curly Top earned his diploma in a $57,000 maiden special going a flat mile. Always in the mix, he bid alongside the highly regarded Footbridge in the deep stretch and wore down that foe to win by 3/4 lengths. Owned by Mercedes Stable and trained by Bob Baffert, Curly Top finished second in his two previous efforts. The $235,000 Lane’s End grad was bred by Nuckols Farm, Graeme Lang and Will Farish. He was produced by SW & MGSP Top Notch Lady (Sultry Song).
On the same day, the Stonestreet homebred Countess Curlin registered her second straight daylight victory. Beaten a neck on debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs, she aired by 4 1/2 lengths in a one-mile maiden special in December, then put up a similarly dominating performance winning by the same margin in a Sam Houston NW2L. Countess Curlin is trained by Steve Asmussen.
Another youngster by CURLIN to keep an eye on is Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice. There was a lot of talk about the Todd Pletcher-trained colt last summer when he ran a nose second on debut at Belmont in July. A month later, he lived up to his 1-5 odds in a Saratoga maiden special, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over a field that include MINESHAFT’s eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail. Sidelined with bucked shins, Palace Malice returned to the races at Gulfstream Jan. 19, and ran a strong second to Majestic Hussar. The 90 Beyer he earned is among the top 15 Beyers on the year for a sophomore colt.
On Feb. 15, Jias Curls, bred by George Bolton and Roger W. Honour and sold by Lane’s End, broke her maiden at Oaklawn by 1 1/4 lengths. Her owner is Wesley Melcher and she is trained by W. Bret Calhoun.
On Feb. 19, in her first start this year, Hopelands ran off with a MSW by 4 1/2 lengths at Sam Houston. Bred by John H. Adger, Hopelands is raced by Haynes Stables LLC and her trainer is Michael Stidham.
So what’s all this mean? It means keep an eye on CURLIN – things are about to get exciting!