When competing around two turns at the premium level, you better watch out, or a Curlin might just run over you.
The 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year has sired winners of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes (Palace Malice), Preakness (Exaggerator), Travers (Keen Ice), Santa Anita Oaks (Stellar Wind), Coaching Club American Oaks (Curalina), and Mother Goose Stakes (Off the Tracks).
The latter added the Mother Goose to her sire’s list of G1 successes over the weekend, and Off the Tracks showed high speed to lead the race from start to finish. She set fractions of :22.79, :45.53, and 1:09.62. By this time, the fillies who had been tracking in the slipstream behind Off the Tracks had been cooked, and none mounted a significant challenge as Off the Tracks went a mile in 1:34.51 and galloped under the wire of the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:41.01, winning by 3 ½ lengths.
One of the common factors among the best of Curlin’s racers to date, like Off the Tracks and Exaggerator, is that most of them have shown good pace at some point or another. Yet they also stay a mile or more and do so in exalted company.
One explanation of that is that Curlin himself had good speed, although he was nothing like a tearaway sprinter. And the mares sent to Curlin have sometimes brought very good quality speed to the mix as well.
In the two G1 performers above, both Off the Tracks and Exaggerator are out of mares by champion 2-year-olds. While the broodmare sire of Exaggerator is Vindication (by Seattle Slew), Off the Tracks is out of a mare by 2-year-old champion Boston Harbor, a son of Seattle Slew’s champion juvenile son Capote.
A half-sister to the quick and talented G2 stakes winner Concord Point (Tapit), Off the Tracks also shows good 2-year-old form and speed in her ancestors. The filly’s second dam produced graded stakes winner Tasha’s Miracle, one of the first high-class performers by leading sire Harlan’s Holiday.
In addition to Tasha’s Miracle, second dam Ms. Cuvee Napa (Relaunch) also produced Deb’s Charm (Silver Charm), who was third in the G1 Alcibiades Stakes at 2 and has produced a pair of stakes winners.
Ms. Cuvee Napa is out of multiple graded stakes winner A Penny is a Penny, a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Temperence Hill and Raise a Penny, by champion juvenile Raise a Native.
Raise a Native and his sire, the great racehorse and stallion Native Dancer, are two of the strongest conduits for producing speed that can go a distance.
Once-beaten in his 22-race career, Native Dancer was one of the stars of American racing in the 1950s, when his gray coat allowed him to be instantly recognizable to early television watchers. A champion every year he raced from 2 through 4, Native Dancer was a favorite of racing professionals for his speed and determination.
Retired to stud in Maryland at the Sagamore Farm of owner-breeder Alfred Vanderbilt, Native Dancer was a good sire whose impact has increased over time, rather than the reverse. Neither his Kentucky Derby winner Kauai King nor Dancer’s Image, who finished first in the Derby but then was disqualified for the presence of butazolidin in his system, made an immense impact at stud.
Native Dancer’s son Raise a Native, however, made a giant imprint as a sire.
Not a particularly sound horse, Raise a Native won all of his four races. He was a lengthy, heavily built, freakishly powerful horse who worked faster than most horses raced. His factors for speed, however, did not overcome the stamina in an otherwise classic pedigree, and Raise a Native first made national headlines as a sire with 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince, one of the most beautiful horses ever.
Among 74 stakes winners, the only one ever mentioned as better than Majestic Prince is Alydar, second in each of the 1978 Triple Crown races and a great horse whenever not in a race with Affirmed. The latter, however, was a son of Raise a Native’s first-crop stakes winner Exclusive Native.
And a sire of sires, even more so than his fabled sire, Raise a Native became a force in reshaping the breed with sons Exclusive Native, Alydar, and Mr. Prospector.
The latter is the male-line grandsire of Curlin through leading sire Smart Strike, and Off the Tracks is inbred to Raise a Native 4×4. The Mother Goose winner has won four of her six starts, with a second and a third.