Somehow, while in the midst of self-destructing—epitomized by the tumultuous three-year-old campaign leading up to and including the Triple Crown races, as well as the forthcoming Congressional hearings on breeding and drugs—racing righted itself on Saturday, as the stars and planets aligned for the absolute perfect day.
Curlin ($2.80) returned from Dubai the same horse that left, winning the G1 Stephen Foster with ease. Einstein, who may be the best grass horse in America, didn’t embarrass himself, running a game second, while surprising Barcola held on for third. Grasshopper and Brass Hat finished fourth and fifth respectively.
What next for Curlin? If he easily handled this field giving away 10-15 pounds, how much will he have to carry next—and will he? While Kelso won the Suburban carrying 136 pounds and Man O’War once won under a 138 pound impost, Curlin’s connections would hardly agree to such monstrous weights for a horse with Curlin’s potential stud value. The only option is weight-for-age races, such as the Arlington Million on August 9, where he would carry 126. As it is readily apparent that no horse in America—not even Big Brown—can compete with him, the Prix de l’Arc d’Triomphe on October 5 appears to be the perfect stage for the chestnut’s talents, not the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Also at Churchill on Saturday, Hystericalady ($3.00) won the G2 Fleur de Lis, while Pure Clan ($4.00) cruised in the G3 Regret. Pyro ($5.60) appears back on track, winning the G3 Northern Dancer, and Dreaming of Anna ($3.00) won wire-to-wire in the G3 Mint Julep. Another Tiznow colt, Tizdejavu ($8.00) sprung a minor upset in winning in the G2 Jefferson Cup.
At Belmont, Ginger Punch cruised in the G1 Odgen Phipps, winning by nearly 8 lengths over Golden Velvet, while early leader Mistical Plan hung on for a game third. Unbridled Belle ($3.40) began her 2008 campaign with a wire-to-wire victory in the G3 Obeah at Delaware.
A chalky day—but what better way to demonstrate that all is right with the world?