The physical presence that Curlin (by Smart Strike) showed as a yearling, as a racehorse, and now as a stallion is one of the striking factors in the glowing chestnut’s makeup. A big, rugged horse who clearly bears the imprint of broodmare sire Deputy Minister, Curlin has tremendous bone, notable depth and a beautiful angle through his shoulder, and great length and strength through his body.

Overall, Curlin could be a racehorse of an older generation, with the strength and clearly classic qualities that the big chestnut shows from every angle. The combination of such physical traits, athleticism, and mental toughness are what horsemen look for in racehorses that handle their racing well, that excel in a variety of situations, and that are the epitome of the Thoroughbred.

Curlin has passed on much of these racehorse qualities to his offspring, and they are showing many of the qualities that made their sire a classic winner, champion, and Horse of the Year.

Third in the 2007 Kentucky Derby behind Street Sense (Street Cry) and Hard Spun (Danzig), Curlin sprang a major surprise to win the Preakness in a thrilling finish from the Derby winner. Then Curlin gamely raced Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) down the stretch in the Belmont Stakes, narrowly second with honor in another thrilling classic.

The big chestnut then progressed well through his 3-year-old season, with a very good fall campaign that showed him the victor in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup over Lawyer Ron (Langfuhr) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic against the best horses in training.  

Horse of the Year in 2007, Curlin repeated as the best horse in the country in 2008 after victories in the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster, Woodward, and a second Jockey Club Gold Cup.

As a top-class racehorse by leading sire Smart Strike, Curlin was a stallion prospect of great interest, and majority owner Jess Jackson (Stonestreet Stable) clearly indicated Stonestreet’s commitment to using the stallion by sending champion racemare Rachel Alexandra to him.

Sent to stud in 2009 as the yawning chasm of the second great bloodstock depression opened up all around breeders, Curlin has fought his way to the top tier of contemporary stallions by potently filling a niche in the racing and breeding environment; he is one of the country’s eminent classic sires.

Over the weekend, Curlin’s son Exaggerator won the G1 Santa Anita Derby and his daughter Terra Promessa won the G2 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn.

Exaggerator showed his potential by winning the G2 Saratoga Special and G3 Delta Jackpot, as well as by finishing runner-up in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity to Brody’s Cause (Giant’s Causeway). This season, Exaggerator had honed his speed and closing kick against divisional champion Nyquist (Uncle Mo), and the Santa Anita Derby is the first victory of the year for Curlin’s bay son.

A colt with more finishing pace than early speed, Exaggerator is out of the stakes-placed racemare Dawn Raid (Vindication). This is a family known for its toughness, and there are obvious efforts to add speed, such as with champion juvenile Vindication and with Unbridled’s Song, who is the sire of Canadian champion Embur’s Song, a half-sister to Dawn Raid.

Dawn Raid, a deep-bodied and substantial dark bay mare, went through the Fasig-Tipton November sale last fall and was listed as RNA for $625,000. She has since produced a full sister to the Santa Anita Derby winner.

Like Exaggerator, Terra Promessa is a bay, and the filly has won four of five starts. On April 9, Terra Promessa won the G2 Fantasy Stakes, her best effort to date. A homebred for Stonestreet, Terra Promessa won by a neck from the progressive Tapit filly Taxable, and the third finisher was 5 ¾ lengths behind. Both of the first two are expected to try Songbird in the Kentucky Oaks next month.

Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet, Terra Promessa is out of the multiple stakes winner Missile Bay (Yes It’s True). Stonestreet acquired Missile Bay for $700,000 at the 2006 Keeneland November sale, in foal to Forestry. Before Terra Promessa, the mare’s best racer is the stakes-placed Eskendereya filly Mio Me.

With both Exaggerator and Terra Promessa, Curlin is one of the handful of stallions with prospects for both Kentucky classics in less than a month.

Standing at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm outside Lexington, Curlin has earned a stud fee of $100,000 live foal not because he gets fleets of sprint winners but because his offspring seem to get better as they find the opportunity to challenge the classic distances.