Can’t say the news is stunning, but it’s finally confirmed. The great Curlin, thoroughbred racing’s 2007 Horse of the Year, has been retired following his 4th place finish in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in October.
This means we’ve seen the majestic chestnut for the final time. For once in my life, I’m at an absolute loss for words. I knew it was coming, but somehow waiting for the blow to land didn’t soften it’s impact at all. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have another one I love as much as him. Really gonna miss you there, big guy. The run for the past year and a half has been the stuff legends are made of.
The sport will be hard pressed to replace the class of Curlin. His connections were unafraid of putting him on the line through surface changes, rough weather conditions, and overseas shipping in order to prove his claim to being best in the world. Never did he disappoint. Apart from a 4th place finish in the final race of his career over a turf impersonating Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, the son of Smart-Strike was in the money in every other race going 11 for 16 lifetime and taking in over $10.5 million in earnings.
The winter just got a lot bleaker from where I’m sitting, but there is reason to be hopeful. The sooner Curlin goes to stud, the sooner we see his offspring popping up all over the place. Imagine – not one Curlin, but many! Of course, asking anyone’s offspring to live up to such big shoes may be too tall an order for any to achieve. We shall see. I’ll tell you one thing though – if they get just a fraction of his heart and guts, watch out!
For now I’ll be pouring a glass of my finest Pinot Noir, lighting up a cigar, and saying farewll to my favorite horse of all time. It’s horses like this guy that makes us thank god we are alive. What lucky bastards we are to see these magnificent animals in all their glory.
I tip my hat to Curlin one final time.
May we be so lucky as to see greatness like yours again in our lifetimes.
Now as I always do when such news breaks, although this time with a heavier heart than ever before – let’s take a walk down memory lane with Curlin. I’ll never forget where I was the first time I saw him in the Rebel Derby. To say it was life changing would be a tremendous understatement. Having the honor to see him live at the Preakness was a dream come true.
I think the way I’ll always remember him, and always get a chill up my spine thinking about, was making his move to go after Street Sense in the Preakness stretch. That was his moment. His date with destiny. His announcement that a new star was born. I’ll never forget being choked up with pride and unable to speak following his victories in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the 2008 Dubai World Cup.
To say goodbye in a special way, here’s a walk down memory lane with the biggest moments of Curlin’s career. Enjoy.
February 3, 2007 – Curlin debuts at Gulfstream Park and a crushes the field
Curlin blows away the field in the Rebel Derby, his first stakes win
4/14/07 – Curlin destroys the competition in the 2007 Arkansas Derby
5/19/07 – Curlin nails Street Sense at the wire to win the Preakness
9/30/07 – Curlin defeats Lawyer Ron in the 2007 Jockey Club Gold Cup
10/27/07 – Curlin runs away with the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic to win Horse of the Year
3/29/08 – Curlin unleashes his devastating strides against the field of the Dubai World Cup, becoming an international superstar
6/14/08 – Curlin triumphs in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs
8/30/08 – Curlin travels to Saratoga and pulls off a victory as the heavy favorite in the Woodward
9/27/08 – Curlin’s final victory – his second consecutive Jockey Club Gold Cup victory at Belmont Park