There actually are two colts who were foaled in 2015 and named Kukulkan. The Florida-bred by that name is a son of Corfu, and from 16 starts, he has finished second in 6 but has never won a race. The other Kukulkan was foaled on Jan. 30 in Mexico and has never lost a race. From 14 starts, he is perfect to date and has won a half-dozen Grade 1 stakes in Mexico: two as a juvenile (Classico Roberto A. Ruiz and Futurity Mexicano) and four as a 3-year-old in 2018 (Jockey Club Mexicano, Gran Premio Nacional, Derby Mexicano, and Clasico Criadores Mexicanos), including the Mexican Triple Crown.
The colt’s first 13 starts all came at Hippodromo de las Americas in Mexico City. Then in late 2018, Kukulkan (Mex) roamed north to Gulfstream Park, where he won the Caribbean Classic by 10 ¼ lengths from the Venezuelan horse Bukowsky, with fellow Mexican-bred Kandinsky in third.
The margin of the bay colt’s victory in the Caribbean Classic surely was a factor in convincing his connections to bring him back to Florida this month for the G1 Pegasus World Cup, where Kukulkan will meet expected Eclipse Award champions Accelerate (6-year-old by Lookin at Lucky) and City of Light (5, Quality Road), along with the 2018 Triple Crown-placed Audible (Into Mischief) and Bravazo (Oxbow), plus Gunnevera (5, Dialed In), who was second to Accelerate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
That is stepping into the big leagues, and if Kukulkan performs admirably, he will have confirmed his own class, plus adding a mark of vast accomplishment to breeding and racing in Mexico.
By itself, 2018 was a very good year for racers bred in Mexico, which included a pair of winners at the competitive Caribbean Classic series, held at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 8 last year. In addition to Kukulkan in the Classic, Jala Jala won the Confraternity Caribbean Cup, Magno was second in the Caribbean Cup Speed Stakes, Kandinsky was third in the Classic, and Etruska was third in the Lady Caribbean Cup.
Overall, 29 racers bred in Mexico ran in the States last year, made 89 starts, winning 12, in the money in 24 more, with gross earnings of $434,001, according to statistics from our friends at Equibase. Those are very respectable results from a small group of racers led by Kukulkan and Jala Jala.
Bred by Cuadra San Jorge, Kukulkan is named for the plumed serpent worshipped by the Mayan peoples of the Yucatan peninsula. The good-looking bay colt is raced by Rancho San Jorge, which also bred and races Jala Jala. Both are by the G3 stakes winner Point Determined. A strikingly handsome colt, Point Determined sold for $290,000 at the 2004 Keeneland September sale, then resold as a 2-year-old in training for $750,000 to Bob and Beverly Lewis at the 2005 Barretts March sale. Placed in a single start at 2, the son of Horse of the Year Point Given came around nicely at 3, when he won the G3 Affirmed at Hollywood Park and was second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby earlier in 2006.
Unraced as a 4-year-old, Point Determined was sent to the 2007 Keeneland November sale, where the colt sold to Dr. Oscar Benavides, agent, for $100,000.
Benavides said, “I bought Point Determined for the St. George Stables of German Larrea,” a man of vast wealth who lives in Mexico City, where he oversees operations of Mexico’s train service, as well as copper interests in Mexico and South America.
Racing for Larrea, Point Determined was unplaced in his three starts of 2008 as a 5-year-old.
Sent to stud in 2009, Point Determined initially stood in Kentucky at the Montesacro Farm of Dr. Benavides and is last reported standing at Rancho Natoches in Mexico.
The man who bought mares and stallions for Larrea for 14 years, Benavides noted that all those horses went to Mexico, where Larrea races as Rancho San Jorge with horses like Kukulkan and Jala Jala to represent him.
As a result, Benavides said, “Larrea is the leading owner in Mexico by races won, by money won, and he is much the leading breeder. These were good horses that he bought. They could have stayed in Kentucky, but Larrea lives in Mexico and wants to breed and race there.”
Furthermore, Larrea has not reached the heights of leading owner and breeder in Mexico by trading in cheap stock. Through Benavides, St. George Stables purchased the dam of Kukulkan, the Bernardini mare The Real Mayo, carrying her first foal on a cover to leading sire Exchange Rate, for $105,000 at the 2012 Keeneland November sale.
The next year, The Real Mayo produced her first foal, Invasor G, who won his only start in Mexico, and Kukulkan is the mare’s third foal.
He is the one that counts, however, and this weekend, we will see if the plumed serpent can fly with Pegasus.