Twitter icon
Facebook icon



Curlin (NYRA)
Induction Year: 
Fares Farm
Stonestreet Stables LLC
Steven M. Asmussen, Helen Pitts
Smart Strike
Sherriff's Deputy
Deputy Minister
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


Named in honor of a slave who fought in the Civil War, Curlin made his career debut as a 3-year-old in February 2007 with a dazzling 12¾-length victory at Gulfstream Park. The scintillating performance prompted a private purchase by a partnership headed by majority shareholder Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables.


Bred by Fares Farm in Lexington, Ky., Curlin was originally a $57,000 purchase by Midnight Cry Stable at Keeneland in September 2005. Jackson and his partners reportedly paid between $3.5 and $3.7 million to acquire the impressive maiden winner.


The new owners turned Curlin (Smart Strike—Sherriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister) over to trainer Steve Asmussen, who sent the chestnut colt to Oaklawn Park to prepare for the Triple Crown series. With Robby Albarado becoming his new rider, Curlin won the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby, announcing his presence with authority as a leading contender for the American classics.


After finishing third in the Kentucky Derby, Curlin broke through on the big stage with a head victory over Derby winner Street Sense in the Preakness Stakes in front of a record crowd of 121,263 at Pimlico Race Course. After finishing second in the Belmont Stakes and third in the Haskell Invitational, Curlin stamped himself as the top 3-year-old of 2007 with victories in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park. In the Classic, Curlin defeated Hard Spun by 4½ lengths in track-record-equaling time of 2:00.59.


In less than nine months, Curlin had won five graded stakes, including three Grade I events. The 2007 crop of 3-year-olds is widely regarded as the best of the 21st century’s first decade with standouts such as Street Sense, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, Tiago and the Belmont Stakes-winning filly Rags to Riches all delivering signature moments during the course of the year. However, when the dust settled Curlin stood above his peers and was named Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male.


“To accomplish what he’s accomplished in the length of time that he has, to get to this level, he’s different in many ways; he’s an amazing animal,” Asmussen said in 2007.


Although he received numerous lucrative offers to retire him for stud duty, Jackson decided to return Curlin to the races in 2008 as a 4-year-old. This time, Curlin took on the world. He was shipped to Dubai to target the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup. After winning the Jaguar Trophy Handicap as a prep race at Nad al Sheba, Curlin turned in a devastating performance to win the World Cup by 7¾  lengths. Curlin’s $3.6 million winning share boosted his career earnings to $8,807,800. The headline on the cover of The Blood-Horse said it all: “Curlin the conqueror.”


“It was as easy as it looked,” Albarado said. “I don’t want to take anything away from the field, but he has shown he is the best horse in the world.”


After returning from Dubai, Curlin ran his win streak to five with a resounding victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Carrying 128 pounds as the 2-5 favorite, Curlin collided with the gate at the start of the race and was forced to rate in tight quarters along the rail. However, at the head of the stretch, Curlin found daylight and rumbled his way to a 4¼-length victory over Einstein. Albarado described the performance as “routine brilliance.”


Curlin’s win streak was snapped in his next race, an attempt on the grass in the Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park. Curlin acquitted himself well by finishing second after again hitting the gate at the start and breaking slow. Curlin bounced back in his next start to win the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and upped his career earnings to $9,796,800. Only Hall of Fame member Cigar ($9,999,815) had earned more in North American racing history.


Returning to Belmont Park in September 2008, Curlin took aim at Cigar’s record and a repeat in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. A confident Albarado never went to the whip and had the race well measured, guiding Curlin to a victory over Wanderin Boy by three-quarters of a length. Curlin became the first North American horse to surpass $10 million in earnings and the first back-to-back Gold Cup winner since Skip Away accomplished the feat 11 years earlier.


Curlin made one more start, finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. He was again named Horse of the Year and added the title of Champion Older Male. Curlin joined Secretariat, Forego, Affirmed and Cigar — all Hall of Fame members — as the fifth repeat winner of the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year since the award was first presented in 1971 (Wise Dan has since accomplished the feat).


Curlin was retired with a record of 11-2-2 from 16 starts and record earnings of $10,501,800.