Curlin was represented by his seventh G1 winner Saturday when Connect won the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, and this is a notable achievement for a stallion with only four crops of 3-year-olds to race through 2016. Furthermore, each of those crops has contained a classic horse — the goal of owners and breeders. Palace Malice, from Curlin’s first crop, won the Belmont Stakes and the G1 Metropolitan Mile; Ride on Curlin, from his second crop, was second in the Preakness; Keen Ice, from his third crop, was third in the Belmont and won the G1 Travers; and Exaggerator, from his fourth crop, won the Preakness this year, along with the G1 Santa Anita Derby and G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes. It’s for this reason that Curlin will stand for $150,000 live foal in 2017 at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms as one of the elite stallions in North America.
A son of Smart Strike from Sherriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister, Curlin was a two-time Horse of the Year, a champion 3-year-old, and classic winner — he won the Preakness. His sire Smart Strike was a Canadian-bred G1 winner of six of eight starts by Mr. Prospector and a terrifically successful stallion, and he is a sire of sires, too, with such as champion turf horse English Channel and champion 2-year-old and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky, among others.
Smart Strike, unraced at 2, was notable for steering the Mr. Prospector sire line towards more classic stamina, and Curlin, obviously, has continued this movement as a stallion. Now, Curlin’s Preakness winner Exaggerator, his most accomplished son to date with three G1s and $3,581,120 in earnings to his credit, has the chance to continue this legacy. He enters stud in 2017 at WinStar for $30,000 live foal and will be given every chance, particularly because a coterie of important and up-and-coming breeders have joined forces to promote him. They include, aside from WinStar, the global concerns SF Bloodstock and the China Horse Club, as well as the partnership that raced the colt, Big Chief Racing LLC, Rocker O Ranch LLC, and Head of Plains Partners LLC.
Exaggerator was bred in Kentucky by Joseph B. Murphy from the Vindication mare Dawn Raid and sold for $110,000 from the Warrendale consignment at Keeneland September to Big Chief Racing. Because Curlin, a big and wide colt, was unraced at 2 and was best at 3 and 4 at the classic distances, Dawn Raid, a fast mare at 2, was a good match. She won her debut at Woodbine at 5F and followed that with an allowance win at 5 1/2F in quick time of 1:03.37. Later, she was a stakes-placed at 2 in the restricted Fanfreluche Stakes. Her sire, Vindication, a son of Seattle Slew, was an undefeated and champion 2-year-old who only raced at 2. The Curlin/Seattle Slew cross, by the way, is also responsible for Curlin’s G1 winners Off the Tracks (Boston Harbor) and Stellar Wind (Malibu Moon).
The second dam, stakes-placed Embur Sunshine, was by the hard-hitting sire Bold Ruckus, who was known for the durability of his runners. Ember Sunshine produced the Canadian champion older mare Embur’s Song, a multiple Graded stakes-winning daughter of Unbridled’s Song who made $447,960. This family is also responsible for Canadian champion Eternal Search, a Northern Answer mare who earned $642,177 the hard way in the ’80s. The extended family traces back to an imported Francois Dupre mare, Orchestra, from which E.P. Taylor developed the family for a few generations before such as Willam deBurgh and Josham Farms took over. It’s a family characterized by some 2-year-old speed, ability at 3 and above, and durability, and the grafting of it via Dawn Raid to Curlin produced in Exaggerator a good 2-year-old, a classic winner, and a horse with a strong constitution to race.
Exaggerator debuted in early June at 2 at Santa Anita, running fifth to Nyquist at 5F. He won his next start, at Del Mar, at 6F, coming from far back, and off that performance he was shipped to Saratoga by trainer Keith Desormeaux for the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in August. He won the 6 1/2F race in eye-catching last-to-first style and immediately made an impression as a horse to watch on the national stage. Because he was by Curlin, who was really starting to roll as a sire by that Saratoga meet, much more was expected of Exaggerator, especially as the distances lengthened.
For a while during what amounted to a grueling 15-start campaign in 16 months of racing until his last start in September, Exaggerator appeared to be a horse who didn’t want more than a mile. Those thoughts were erased when he won the G1 9F Santa Anita Derby by 6 1/4 lengths from G1 winner Mor Spirit. After that, he ran second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, then defeated Nyquist in the Preakness. Two starts later, he won the Haskell. There’s no doubt Exaggerator was a superior mud lark, but he showed top form on fast tracks as well, and given his early development, a hard racing schedule, his accomplishments at 3, and the superior profile of his sire, he is a horse who has the qualifications to succeed.