WHAT a weekend it was for Hill ‘N’ Dale Farms’ Curlin. Two members of his 2018 crop, Cody’s Wish and Malathaat, won Grade 1 features, and brought his number of winners at that level this year to five, matching a feat he achieved in 2021. He currently lies in second place on the leading sire list for this year in the USA.
It is fascinating to see how quickly breeders were to ‘abandon’ Curlin, and then for him to not only rebound, but to become one of the top five sires in the USA.
An initial stud fee of $75,000 at Lane’s End Farm was almost halved for the next four years, and fell further, to a career low, of $25,000 for 2013 and 2014. A small rise was followed quickly by a massive jump to $100,000 with a move to his present home in 2016.
Curlin was entitled to start at the fee he did. After all, he was Horse of the Year at three and four, his only seasons to race, won 11 of his 16 starts to bag more than $10 million, and won six Grade 1s in the USA, and the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in the UAE. His principal victories on home soil were in the Preakness Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2016 his son Exaggerator won the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes and Santa Anita Derby, and ran second in the Kentucky Derby. This was on the back of the emergence of such stars as champion colts Vino Rosso and Good Magic, champion filly Stellar Wind, Grade 1 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice, Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice in his first crop, multiple Grade 1 winner Curalina and more.
The $100,000 fee proved to be for one year only, and has moved in increments to a new high for the last three seasons of $175,000. It is almost guaranteed that Curlin will break through the $200,000 benchmark for 2023 if his current run of success continues.
Take a look at his current crop of four-year-olds. It contains Malathaat, last year’s champion filly and now a four-time Grade 1 winner, Clairiere who has won Grade 1s last season and this year, Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Known Agenda, and this year’s Grade 1 winning duo Obligatory and Cody’s Wish.
Meanwhile, Curlin’s classic crop is headed by Nest, her three Grade 1 wins this year framing her runner-up efforts in the Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes.
This year’s two-year-olds by Curlin represent his 11th crop of racing age. He has sired 88 stakes winners, and it will not be long until he joins the exclusive club with a century of such winners.
Sheikha Hissa is having quite a run of success, with Baeed in Europe and now Malathaat in the USA, and don’t forget Group 1 wins for Alfareeq in the Jebel Hatta and Hukum in the Coronation Cup.
Malathaat was unbeaten in three starts at two, notably winning the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes. She was beginning to repay Sheikh Hamdan’s investment of $1,050,000 at the Keeneland September Sale.
Last season Malathaat was rated the best of her sex and age in the USA, her five starts yielding three Grade 1 wins, the Kentucky Oaks, Alabama Stakes and Ashland Stakes, and she was runner-up in the Grade 1 CCA Oaks and third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Now, in her third season racing, she has added the Grade 1 Person Ensign Stakes at Saratoga and a Grade 3 at Keeneland to her winning tally, and been runner-up twice, including in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes. Her dozen starts, comprising eight wins and four places, have brought with them the sum total of $2.28 million in earnings.
Malathaat’s elevation to Grade 1 winning status means she joins her dam and grandam in so doing.
She is the only runner to date from five foals of racing age for Dreaming Of Julia (A.P.Indy), and that mare won half of her eight lifetime starts, notably the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks. She was also runner-up in the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes and placed in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Raced by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, Dreaming Of Julia shared with her dam, Dream Rush (Wild Rush), the distinction of winning half their starts, though the latter ran 16 times and twice won at Grade 1 level, in the Darley Test Stakes and the Prioress Stakes.
Dream Rush reignited a branch of a family that had gone somewhat quiet, and three of her five winners have been successful at stakes level.
Also at Saratoga, Curlin’s son Cody’s Wish burst through to the big time, and he is a horse who may yet have more improvement in him. The Bill Mott-trained, Godolphin homebred, colt has won six of his 10 starts and never been out of the money. Not only that, he did not race at two and his six starts last year didn’t include a stakes race. By the way, he won half of them and placed in the others.
What a revelation Cody’s Wish is this year when all his runs have been in stakes races. Beaten a neck in a Grade 3 on his seasonal bow, he has now progressed from winning the Listed Hanshin Stakes at Churchill Downs to adding the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont, all warm-ups for his win in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes. This is a colt to watch.
Cody’s Wish is the third foal, third runner, second winner but third stakes horse out of his Grade 1 winning dam, Dance Card (Tapit).
The mare’s first foal, Bocephus (Medaglia D’Oro), sneaked a minor placing in the Turf Paradise Derby, but that suffices to give him blacktype. He placed seven times in all. Bocephus was followed by his full-brother, Endorsed (Medaglia D’Oro), a four-time winner and Grade 2-placed.
Their dam Dance Card sold as a yearling for $67,000 but, the following February, she cost John Ferguson $750,000 as a breezer. She didn’t win all that back, earning $500,000, but she won four of her seven starts and they included the Grade 1 Gazelle Stakes. She ran third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Dance Card and Cody’s Wish are the only Grade 1 winners in five generations of this family, though a number of the offspring of Dance Card’s dam, the stakes-placed Tempting Note (Editor’s Note), made a splash in the ring.
They included Dance Card’s full-brother, two-time winner Hartford (Tapit), who sold for $700,000 as a yearling, while a year later their half-sister C Note (Scat Daddy), twice placed at three, cost Bridlewood Farm $550,000.