Race of the Week 2017

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Dueling Down The Stretch

Curlin's Classic Statement

The Breeders’ Cup Classic of 2007 was a race for the ages. Loaded with talent, half the field had a shot to win Horse of the Year. The three year olds gunning for the Classic and a chance at glory were Street Sense, Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun, and Curlin. The lone older male in the HoY running was Lawyer Ron, who had dominated his division and all he needed to wear the crown was the Classic. In 2007, The Classic really was the championship deciding race.

The morning line favorite was Lawyer Ron, who had dominated Saratoga’s signature events, shattering the track record in the Whitney and running his opponents off their feet in the Woodward. He ran a bang up race when running second to Curlin, by a head in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. However, Street Sense, who was bidding to make history once again, by becoming the first Breeders Cup Juvenile winner to triumph in the Classic. He had already become the first to break the dreaded 'Juvenile Jinx', by winning the Derby. He also became the first Kentucky Derby winner since 1990 to win the Travers.

Any Given Saturday may not have been a favorite going into the gates, but he sure had his fair share of support, and rightly so. After all, he dominated both the Dwyer and Haskell Invitational and in the latter he beat both Hard Spun and Curlin handily. He then went on to win the Brooklyn Handicap. He was on a roll and looking to continue.

The two horses that people seemed to have forgotten were Hard Spun and Curlin, despite the fact that both were coming into the race off of big wins. Hard Spun had consistently been knocking at the door the entire season, running second in the Derby and third in the Preakness. Entering the Classic he was coming off a gritty win in the grade one King's Bishop and the Kentucky Cup Classic. With those wins, his hat was in the ring but still overshadowed by the “big horses.”

Curlin was an obscure maiden in February that had risen into the spotlight of the Triple Crown. He ran third in the Derby, but rebounded to win the Preakness in his fourth start. In the Belmont he ran an amazing race to finish second to Rags to Riches by only a head, but after a dull third in the Haskell, not even a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup could push him ahead of the media darling, Street Sense. Entering the Classic, there was no doubt he was a very good horse, but in the midst of the hoopla, he was pushed to the background.

When the gates opened and the field was “sent on their way to a perfect beginning,” It was Hard Spun who grabbed the lead with Lawyer Ron there nipping at his heals. Any Given Saturday was there in fourth, but it was clear he was struggling with the sloppy going. Towards the rear were Curlin and Street Sense, racing in tandem. The opening quarter was a quick 23.11 for the track, and that half was an even quicker 45.85. Clearly, Hard Spun, who was up front setting the testing pace, would not be getting a breather anytime soon.

With a half a mile left to go the time for the first six furlongs flashed up in a jaw dropping 1.10.67, and the complexion of the race began to change. Lawyer Ron, fried by the pace began to wilt as did the struggling Any Given Saturday. At the same time both Curlin and Street Sense began to launch massive bids, both looking as though they had been shot from a cannon.

Around the far turn it was a three horse race between the three colts who had been locked together, battling since the Triple Crown were 1-2-3 turning for home. As the field turned into the straight, Curlin was breathing down Hard Spun’s neck, while Street Sense began to flatten out. Hard Spun fought bravely, but was no match for Curlin, who kicked on the afterburners and began to draw further away with every stride. Trevor Denman was the one who put it best in his stretch call “In the race of the year, for Horse of the Year it's Curlin ... in an absolutely stylish performance!”

It may have not been the biggest of upsets, but in that race Curlin made one of the biggest statements to ever be made during the Breeders Cup. Entering the Classic he had lost the luster he gained during the Triple Crown, but in that race he showed the world just what he was capable of, in one of the most dominating and stunning performances I have ever seen. It was the most thrilling and vindicating upset I remember…that I will ever remember.


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Older Comments about Curlin's Classic Statement ...

And many of you need one in reality. What i said is completely true. If you want to be technical, over 90 of horses in this sport are not clean, but are because of what is made legal. Winstrol was at the time, so even it showed up in Curlin's blood, it would have been fine. I also provided you with facts above that say that that particular drug does not produce much weight gain or muscle gain, unlike typical steroids. That particular drug is actually used to treat conditions that cause swelling, and it reduces it. Swelling typically comes from when blood flows highly to one area of the body causing it to swell and become stiff and painful. If it reduces swelling then this drug would be an equivalent to aprin or motrin to humans.
Some testing is so senstive that background contaminatioin registers almost as much as real drugs in the system. The Enzyme Linked Immunoassay is like that.
Dead Heat you really need a course in pharmacology
Shadownno, he obviously was if he was tested CLEAN by the officials. And if you want to get that technical, no horse is actually clean when all race on sometype of raceday meds.
So in spite of the NY Times interview with Jess Jackson where he admits the horse was campaigned on steroids you insist he was "clean as a whistle". Are you kidding or just naive and stupid? With regard to effect, they eat better and are able to train harder. Winstrol is a powerful anabolic steroid, NOT a very mild training drug, ever heard of Ben Johnson?. The vet who worked Big Brown for Dutrow stated it was used "TO HELP MUSCLES TO GET STRONGER". Hell top trainers like Bruce Levine admitted using it as it let them (horses) eat better and train harder. Baffert says it helps recharge their batteries (NYT interview) . Pretty high profile guys so I dont buy the 90% theory at all. They just weren't being asked. Besides that Curln flunked (OR PASSED) the eye test. If you ever saw him in the flesh you know exactly what he looked like and it was not your typical race horse and every vet out there would know how to cycle the drugs to avoid detection, or visit BALCO, but out of respect for Jackson we';ll consider 2008 a "clean" campaign.
That really was a stylish performance, but I have to admit I was rooting just as hard for Awesome Gem to get past Street Sense to help me out a little bit in my superfectas.
Curlin was awesome, Juice or not. And if he was on steroids do you believe he was the only one? Curlin beat a very good group of year olds and actually took his show on the road to be tested against the worlds best! Curlin Americas last great thorobred.
He beat a very tough, deep, talented field. That was the best crop of 3 yos in decades. I t showed how good he was. Outside of Invasor, he was the horse of the decade.
travel_vic, the info on testing I got was from a trainer who actually gets to watch all of this and is still doing it today. The 1st three horses are always tested.
Testing has no standard number checked. Sometimes the entire field is tested, sometimes only a straggler along with the winner. It is up to the judges
Pharmacological effects ( like bolstering the appetite of fillies by using male homrones) can last LONG after the TEST for the drug is over. The steorid boost that created Big Brown Curling and others remained Physically long after the serum levels of the drugs and metabolites were gone.
Shadowno, No, the point 1.) that was a legal drug and a very very very mild one that was a TRAINING DRUG. The top three horses in every race are tested after every race and every time Curlin was clean as a whistle, so the comment of juiced applied to BB or Curlin is a complete and total lie. 2.) I would say almost 90% if not more of the barns out there had their horses on some type of drug and did not come clean. 3.) Both those connections took their horses off that drug to make a point, and that was that they did not need it. Curlin proved he didn't need it, by remaining unbeaten over dirt that year, thrashing the DWC competition, coming back off the Dubai bouce to thrash those in the Stephen Foster, running second on his first truf try, then subsequently winning both the Woodward and JCGC. The only race he fished out of the top three, and that was by a head was the BCC on Pro-Ride. He was off the drug for at least 11 months, which means there is a very slim chance that was even due to coming off of Winstrol, since had he had any ill effects we would have seen them. Also a fact on this drug is that when taken it reports little to NO weight gain, and for everyone that doesn't know that weight woudl come from muscle. Winstrol does contain a high amount of protein synthasis which would build muscle and promote weight gain, yet it does not. So to come on here and say uninformedly that this horse or any horse that ever was on Winstrol was juiced is a completely rediculous statement.
The horse was on juice through the classic by admission. Not off till the Dubai trip. This info was only made public after the Big Brown fiasco when Dutrow "came clean". Your point is we should glorify a cheat? Sorry, there have been far to many truly great horses before Curlin to have to bend ones standards and accept false greatness. Doubt we saw a juiced up Man O War,Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Buckpasser, Native Diver or Spectacular Bid.
Really too bad that a juiced out Curlin denied Street Sense a shot at the TC. Hell, his entire 2007 HOY season he was roided up, didn't come clean till he was headed to Dubai where he was gonna be TESTED and still we fret over Race Day Lasix, ironic IMO..
How do we know none of the other horses weren't on anything? Come on people, get your heads out of the clouds, even Zito replied "no comment" in 08 when asked if he had his horses on anything. Many trainers do, so to crucify one for coming clean while the others pretent or hide behind "no comment" is insantity. Also Curlin proved that stroids had nothing to do with it. I believe he was off them in the Classic and all of his 08 season including the DWC and Stephan Foster. If youc can't respect a great horse then you are not a fan of racing.
  • stevebiscuit · "If you can't respect a great horse then you are not a fan of racing". Tell that to the Zenyatta bashers. · 2215 days ago
Street Sense would have won had it not rained. The rail was a swamp yet Calvin still went for it. Oh well.
Curlin was one tough horse and showed it both years he ran.
agreed that was a great group of runners!!
Street Sense was my darling boy, but Curlin was amazing. Hard Spun always showed up too.
Americas last great MALE!! loved Curlin

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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