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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Courageous Curlin

His name is synonymous with courage. Doubted from the start by many pundits during the 2007 Kentucky Derby trail, he endured a dreadful trip and still finished in the money behind Street Sense and Hard Spun. As I'm sure you know by now, Curlin has been retired. Kevin Stafford, Curlin's #1 fan has written an excellent tribute that I encourage you to check out. I wasn't planning on blogging today, as I am readying for a two day strategic planning retreat related to my business, but I wanted to share some thoughts and moments regarding the all-time leading money winner in horse racing history.

During the aforementioned Derby trail in 07, one of my pals and probably the best handicapper I know personally (see 05 Derby trifecta) started turning me on to Curlin. He kept telling me how special he was and how special he was going to be. Of course, I didn't listen and was on the Hard Spun bandwagon throughout the classics and Breeders Cup, but it didn't sway me from admiring his accomplishments during that time. The horse just got better and better as time went on and he matured into the monster runner. The first time I saw him in person, my jaw dropped and all I could say was "Holy S---!" I was with the Saratoga Resident (probably his #2 fan) in the paddock at the 07 Belmont and I couldn't stop marveling at his physique. I still don't know how he lost that day, but it wasn't meant to be and history was made when the filly Rags to Riches nailed him at the wire, right in front of us. But the picture in my mind of him in the paddock that day has forever stayed with me.

Moment #2 that I will never forget was at Monmouth Park last October, sitting at the top of the stretch with the Space Gal in the first row and getting to see the best horses in the world load and break in front of us and then come around for the stretch run. And this part I will never forget. As they came around the turn, he motored past the front-running Hard Spun and made an incredible move that I was lucky to be sitting right in front of. The acceleration at that point was something I had never experienced in person before and will stay with me for a very long time. I watched it again over at Kevin's site this morning. Super cool.

I was fortunate to see one of the all-time greats in person and will miss his competitiveness and courage. We were lucky to have him run at four, regardless if it was due to the legal wranglings of his ownership group or not, as seldom do these days. I look forward with great enthusiasm to his future offspring making their 2yo debuts in 2011.

"Success is largely a matter of holding on, when others have let go." ~Anonymous

Thanks, Curlin, for always holding on.

Picture courtesy: Shoot-it Photography, ruffian


Kevin Stafford said...

Wonderful post! I know well what you mean about the "Holy S***" factor upon seeing him in the paddock.

He's the kind of guy that makes your jaw drop. If a horse can look a million bucks - he's the poster child in my opinion.

Thanks as well for mentioning me as Curlin's #1 fan. That's an honor I hope I've lived up to over his career.

Thank you for the wonderful post.

libby said...

I am Curlin's #1 fan!

Dennis said...

No I am !


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