CURLIN RELOCATING TO HILL 'N' DALE
Stonestreet Farm has announced that its two-time Horse of the Year Curlin (Smart Strike–Sherriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister), whose Keen Ice took down the colors of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in the GI Travers S. last Saturday, will be relocated to John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm for the 2016 breeding season. Earlier this year, Hill ‘n’ Dale was announced as the successful bidder of the 20% interest in the stallion previously owned by Shirley Cunningham and Midnight Cry Stables. Stonestreet’s Barbara Banke owns the other 80% of the sire. Curlin has stood at Lane’s End Farm since his retirement in 2008.
“We believe that the owners of the horse are in the best position to direct his stallion career,” explained Banke. “John Sikura has assembled a unique world-class broodmare band and has pledged his best mares to the sire. This year we bred multiple graded stakes winner Dayatthespa and multiple graded stakes winner and producer Dream Rush to Curlin and will continue to support him with top-quality mares.
Banke continued, “I want to thank Lane’s End Farm for launching his sire career, and look forward to working with them in future endeavors. This move was made to best direct Curlin’s career under a new ownership structure. We look forward to working with Hill ‘n’ Dale to further our strategic plan to ensure that the world’s highest-rated racehorse becomes amongst the world’s most important stallions.”
Curlin becomes the 11th stallion on the Hill ‘n’ Dale roster, which is anchored by sprint champion Midnight Lute.
“It’s a huge step forward for our stallion operation,” confirmed Sikura, whose farm started out leading stallions Medaglia d’Oro and Candy Ride (Arg). “We started the careers of two really important horses that are no longer here, so to be able to now stand a really important proven stallion to go along with Midnight Lute and the promising young horses we have in Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) and Maclean’s Music (Distorted Humor), I think it’s kind of like winning the lottery. He’s a once-in-a-long-time kind of prospect. Add that to a really good team, it gives you the potential to really jump forward and hopefully we will be a major player in the stallion market.”
Winner of the 2007 GI Breeders’ Cup Classic and the 2008 G1 Dubai World Cup, Curlin retired as the all-time North American money winner, with earnings of over $10.5 million before entering stud at Lane’s End. He made an immediate impression, as Palace Malice provided him with a first-crop Classic winner in the GI Belmont S. The bay added a victory in the 2014 GI Metropolitan H. and was recently retired to stud at Three Chimneys.
Curlin’s early success made it an easy decision for Sikura when the sale of a 20% interest in the stallion was announced this spring.
“I thought the horse was poised to be a world-class horse,” Sikura said of the decision to bid on the interest. “He had not yet arrived. He showed a versatility which I thought was unique. I thought his start resembled Smart Strike very much. He showed enough success that he
looked like a very promising sire in the making. And luckily, week upon week, he has continued to have more and more success at a higher and higher level.”
This summer’s results have borne out Sikura’s opinion as Curlin’s third crop of runners have lit up racetracks all across the country in 2015. In addition to Keen Ice’s massive upset in the ‘Midsummer Derby,’ his daughter Stellar Wind won the GI Santa Anita Oaks and was favored in the GI Kentucky Oaks. The John Sadler trainee most recently took her seasonal mark to four wins from five tries with a facile success in the GIII Torrey Pines S. at Del Mar.
On the East Coast, Curalina has risen to the top of the division with scores in the GI Acorn S. and GI CCA Oaks. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Curalina was most recently third in the prestigious GI Alabama S. at Saratoga. Curlin has also been represented at the Spa by GIII Schuylerville S. victress Off the Tracks, while Exaggerator shipped in from California to annex the GII Saratoga Special S. Although he has yet to test graded stakes waters, Jess’s Dream, the product of Curlin and fellow Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) earned ‘TDN Rising Star’ status with an improbable debut victory at the upstate New York oval Aug. 24.
“[Curlin’s recent results] confirm what now is a universal opinion, that he is going to become a very important sire and a sire of the highest quality offspring,” Sikura said. “The versatility that he presents is very unique, much like Medaglia d’Oro, where he can get the best horse on either surface, at any age and as far as you want to go. There are not many horses that can do that. There are very few horses world-wide who have that ability in them. If you think back to what a great, great racehorse he was and now he is siring the same quality of racehorse, you’d hope and think that, with full books of elite mares, he could be a breed-shaping horse.”
Sikura added he will be supporting Curlin with Hill ‘n’ Dale’s stellar broodmare band, led by Teeming (Storm Cat), a daughter of blue-hen mare Better Than Honour and dam of Grade I winner Streaming (Smart Strike).
“We will support him fully,” Sikura said. “Teeming and her daughters will be amongst the first group of mares to him. Teeming has been such a great producer and I believe her daughters will be equally effective. We are going to breed our best mares to the horse and seed the home team. We will continue to use outside horses like we have, but we will be heavy supporters of Curlin.”
All totaled, Curlin is the sire of 22 black-type winners, nine of which have won at the graded-stakes level. The sire of nearly 72% winners from his starters, Curlin has current progeny earnings of $22,051,447. He currently sits seventh on the overall sires’ list, with seasonal progeny earnings of just over $7 million.
In partnership with Stonestreet, Hill ‘n’ Dale stands Atreides (Medaglia d’Oro) and Maclean’s Music and Sikura is looking forward to extending the collaboration.
“I have tremendous respect for Barbara,” Sikura said. “She is carrying on the tradition of Stonestreet. She is buying yearlings, she is being more collaborative and she is active in all the marketplaces. I’ve found her to be thoroughly intelligent, very calm and thoughtful and always agreeable. She always does exactly what she says she is going to do and it’s been a wonderful working relationship with her.”
Asked about a potential 2016 stud fee for Curlin, Sikura said, “There is a realistic hope that Curlin will have Breeders’ Cup participants and depending on the successes of his offspring through the end of the year, we’ll determine the stud fee and see what everybody thinks.”