There would be no raining on Curlin's parade at Monmouth Park on Saturday. Despite the dreary, drippy afternoon at the racetrack in Oceanport, N.J., Curlin--who won the Preakness Stakes in record time, took third at the Kentucky Derby this past May and placed a close second at the Belmont Stakes in June--charged around the final turn of the 1.25-mile track and took the lead, cruising to a four-and-a-half-length victory over a stellar field of the season's most successful thoroughbreds in the $5 million Breeder's Cup Classic.
The victory virtually cemented Curlin's position as both Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male. Kendall-Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, are part owners of the horse, along with Satish Sanan's Padua Stables, venture capitalist George Bolton and Midnight Cry Stables.
"He showed he's a true champion," said jockey Robby Albaredo, who was caked in mud but grinning from ear to ear after Curlin's track-record-tying run in extremely sloppy conditions. Albaredo has never finished less than third while riding Curlin.
"Curlin's Classic win was among the best races this year and stamped him as the Horse of the Year," said Ed DeRosa, news editor for the Thoroughbred Times. "The impressive thing about Curlin is that his big wins look so effortless. The Classic was one of the best fields ever assembled for a race, and he looked like a winner every step of the way."
As for what the future holds for Curlin, Jackson and Curlin's co-owners have yet to decide whether or not to retire the horse to stud. "Any fan of the sport would love to see Curlin race at four. Thoroughbreds continue to develop even through their 5-year-old year, so Curlin is probably still getting better, which is a scary thought considering how good he already is," DeRosa said.
"There is more money to be made breeding horses than racing them so, from a financial standpoint, racing Curlin at four would be more a sporting decision than a fiduciary one, but Jess doesn't need the money," DeRosa continued. "The fame that comes with owning a great racehorse far exceeds the fame that comes from owning a great sire."
Curlin's purse after winning the Classic will also further benefit the Curlin for Kids foundation, set up by Jackson before the Kentucky Derby. The foundation benefits numerous children's charities, including Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Smile Train, which provides free surgeries for children with cleft lips and palates.