Among those waiting to greet Curlin as he galloped back triumphantly to the Nad Al Sheba winner’s circle was his nearly white stable pony, Pancho, who had accompanied him in the post parade while steered by exercise rider Carlos Rosas.
When Curlin walked out of sight into the enclosure that serves as both a parade ring and winner’s circle and Rosas followed him to see the ceremony, Pancho became distressed.
Toni Hodge, quarantine manager for the Dubai Racing Club, broke with tradition and led Pancho down into the winner’s area, where the stout Quarter Horse bounced on his toes as he caught sight of Curlin.
“He deserves to be here,” Hodge said of Pancho, who has become a favorite with Dubai Racing Club officials during his approximately six-week stay in Dubai with Curlin.
After being festooned with a bright red fringed cooler proclaiming him the winner of the world’s richest race, Curlin made his way out of the crowded enclosure, the intensity of the race still vividly on his face. Yet when he saw Pancho, his ears shot up, and the pair walked out together, sharing in a small way this win that they both had worked so hard to achieve.