Pedigree Profile: Ride On Curlin

Matthew Stockman

In my opinion, there's no better trainer to root for in the Derby than Billy Gowan.

Admittedly, I've loved this colt from the first time I watched him run last fall at Churchill Downs. While I felt that he was misused as a speed horse in the Southwest and the Rebel, and that he was better suited to make one run/rate off the pace, I could also see that severe traffic issues and maybe some rankness also came into play. So I got it. But boy does Billy Gowan have himself a nice runner. If you haven't heard Billy talk about this colt, it's worth listening. But I'll sum it up for you, "He's a fast horse," Billy has said, always with a grin. We see the Pletchers, Bafferts, and Zitos of the world enough in the Derby, Preakness, Breeder's Cup, et al, but I always love when we get to see the spotlight shine on some of the smaller guys that work every bit as hard to earn every win they get.

But that aside, let's take a look at his pedigree.

Ride on Curlin, by Curlin out of Magical Rider (Storm Cat)

Curlin has only had two foal crops that have reached the age of three, but he's already struck quickly. Palace Malice stormed to a striking win in the 2013 Belmont. While he may tower over the rest of his progeny (as nearly any Classic winner is wont to do) in terms of winnings, he has gotten a number of very nice runners thus far out of only two crops. And let's put this in perspective, Palace Malice is shaping up to be a monster in the handicap division this year, so he's no fluke. Also performing well this year is the classy Diversy Harbor (2nd in the G2-Providencia) and the top billed Top Billing (zing) who was an early favorite of many to be in the running for top honors in the Kentucky Derby. Curlin has no problem getting nice horses that love to route, which is no surprise. As I said last year when doing a profile of Palace Malice:

Since a large portion of (Curlin's) progeny's starts are as two year olds that typically race at sprint distances, it is difficult to truly extrapolate what kind of foal he tends to get. However, Smart Strike is easier to get a picture of, with terrific runners like English Channel, My Miss Aurelia, Lookin at Lucky, and Curlin himself, it is easy to see that Curlin's get will love the classic distances. And being out of a Deputy Minister mare, it certainly only enhances that tendency. But Palace Malice is really the only significant winner that Curlin has gotten so far. That's not a knock necessarily, since Curlin only got better with age you can expect his offspring to show a similar tendency, but it definitely does mean it should not have been a surprise to see Palace Malice continue to develop as he got older.

Kinda nailed that one with Palace Malice.

Magical Rider, by Storm Cat, is as well bred as one could imagine. By the venerable and breed-shaping stallion, she is out of the Grade 1 winning Victory Ride. While her production record has been just ok thus far(2 winners from 3 foals of racing age) she showed top class as a juvenile, finishing in the money in the G2 Adirondack at Saratoga in 2006, only her second start. But while she showed the typical precociousness of a Storm Cat while a juvenile, she never duplicated that form again while in stakes company. I need not elaborate on the tremendous influence the Storm Cat blood probably has had on Ride On Curlin.

But Victory Ride, by Seeking the Gold, is the crown jewel of the family. A winner of the Grade 1 Test and the (now Grade 1 but then) listed Madison at Keeneland she was a top class filly as both a freshman and sophomore, ending her career with a 3rd in the G2-Churchill Downs Distaff. Pedigree-wise, she is out of the Flying Paster mare, Young Flyer, who not only a stakes winner herself, but the producer of 2 grade 1 winners (VIctory Ride and River Flyer, winner of the G1-Hollywood Derby) and two other stakes placed mares (one a producer of a stakes horse) and another winning filly, Swingtime Music (also a producer of a listed stakes winner).

His female family is a direct line from the great cornerstone mares of Bourtai and Bayou. Bourtai is a true champion broodmare, with a number of extremely successful branches to her family, and through Bayou is how we get to Ride On Curlin. Bayou was the champion 3 year old filly of 1957. But from her we get Alluvial, truly one of the special broodmares, as she foaled the fantastic sire Slew of Gold, who was also no slouch on the track, winning a mess of G1s and was named both champion 3 year old in 1983 and champion older horse in 1984. (h/t to Reines-de-course.com)

Ok, that's too far back to care, but it's interesting nonetheless.

So what do we have with Ride On Curlin? We have a dose of a sire that has already shown the ability to get a Classic Winner (and a major horse in the handicap division), out of an impeccably bred mare by perhaps the greatest stallion of his generation in Storm Cat (no disrespect to AP Indy, of course), who has shown the versatility to win with speed or be competitive while rating.

Simply put, Go Ride on Curlin!

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