Pure Sport - by Jess Jackson

As 2008 draws to a close, so too does the racing career of Curlin. What a joy it has been to participate in his racing career. We saw not only what this great horse could accomplish on the track, but the bond he forged between himself, his team, the fans, and the sport. I will always remember the applause Curlin received in every paddock around the world.

To me, Curlin is so much more than one of the greats. He has also become a bonded and trusting friend. Many a horse owner has undoubtedly experienced what we have: a personal relationship of affection and trust between Curlin, myself, my family, and every member of our team. We gained his trust and he has been eager to satisfy; he has been loyal.

I recall once, after I hadn’t seen him in a while, I went to Curlin’s paddock before a major race and held my hand high to pet him. Instinctively, a horse, especially an alpha male, will raise his head over an upstretched hand and display his game intensity. Curlin, however, just lowered his head and threw it over my shoulder to let me scratch his mane. Often he would nicker his greeting as you approached, sometimes before he even saw you.

So it is with both great pride and some melancholy that I reflect upon his retirement. It has been, after all, an amazing and rare ride that one comes to appreciate even more as it ends. As I reflect upon what Curlin, Steve Asmussen, Robby Albarado, Scott Blasi, Carlos Rosas, and the whole team has achieved, I especially want to extend my deep gratitude to Curlin’s fans. In the end, we ran Curlin as much or more for the enjoyment and inspiration of the fans and sport than for ourselves.

Curlin ran for the fans, for the sport, for his own pleasure of competition, and, I believe, to express his loyalty and desire to please.

He ran on all surfaces, in all weather, against all competition. He contended well and without much rest in two consecutive campaigns across two continents. In 21 short months of racing, he became the highest-earning horse in North American racing history—passing former record-holder, the great Cigar—while winning five of seven races in his second year of racing (a greater winning percentage than Cigar posted in his second Horse of the Year campaign). Had he continued to race, I am certain a rested Curlin would have added even more to his legacy. 

For the good of the fans and the sport, I’m hoping horse racing will return to the love of the horse and the pure sport, the spectacle and the simple beauty of a Thoroughbred in motion. I hope too, that we will breed horses not only for speed, but for durability—something that will protect the athletes: our jockeys and our Thoroughbreds. I hope the industry will realize the importance of extending the racing life of Thoroughbreds so that fans can follow their stars beyond their third year.

We hope Thoroughbred owners will form their own racing league and appoint a commissioner, join with the tracks to market races for older horses, and work together to increase their stake of gaming revenue to allow the tracks and horse owners to prosper. Otherwise, I fear Thoroughbred racing will continue to decline.

Curlin epitomizes what we need from his genes. As he enters his new career, our goal now is to have Curlin contribute his brilliance, soundness, intelligence, and stamina to the breed. I am eager to see his colts and fillies race and hope to see one or more surpass his own prodigious achievements.

Curlin is a great racehorse, but he has also become a member of our family. None of us will forget the power, grace, and affection he brought to our lives. And for Curlin and our family, we thank his fans for the lifetime of memories they gave us.

Jess Jackson is the the founder of Kendall-Jackson wines and majority owner of Curlin.


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Thank you for everything, Mr. Jackson. Giving us Curlin in his 4th year was a gift unparalleled. I have been following your amazing golden horse since before his Kentucky Derby run, and not being able to see him run again will take some getting used to. I could always count on Curlin in a way I couldn't count on other horses. People will soon realize how magnificent Curlin is and was and where he stands in the pantheon of the Greats. There isn't a horse in racing that can step up and take the place he filled in our hearts. I am so thankful he retired completely sound and is going to get his well-earned rest. I look forward to visiting him at Lane's End.

Thank you again for setting an example for other race horse owners. I wish all owners could not only be looking out for the welfare of the individual horse, but also for the state of the game, which is in dire need of heroes right now. You didn't have to race Curlin this year, but you did. For that, I know I will be always grateful. I got the privilege of seeing Curlin race in person in the Stephen Foster and I'll never forget it. Thanks for the wonderful memories.

16 Dec 2008 10:33 AM
Johnny Sharpe

I followed him to Belmont Park,Monmouth Park and Churchill Downs on several occasions.After all the years of early retirements, I found it truly special to see him again and again.I'll never forget Robbie wearing his silks,2 races before the JCGC,relaxing and checking out the crowd from the paddock bench.Then the win to put him over 10 million.What a long great trip its been. Thanks again.

16 Dec 2008 11:06 AM

Well said, Mr. Jackson, and thanks for allowing all of us to enjoy Curlin for as long as we did.

16 Dec 2008 11:08 AM

I have always loved Curlin. I am not as experienced in the sport as most everyone, considering, I'm twelve years old. But I always loved Curlin, just as a horse. He was a champion, a legend, and now he will have a legacy. But in the end, he's just a horse, and a horse is enough. He deserves a good romp around the paddock, though I do think he will miss racing. We loved you Curlin. I would have loved to meet you and see you race for another season, but you are his owner Mr. Jackson and you know what your doing. Maybe someday I'll go meet him. I'll always think of him as a cute beautiful wonderful talented horse, but even better he's a horse, just a horse, and a horse is enough.

16 Dec 2008 11:18 AM

No offense Mr. Jackson, but I did not consider the four year old campaign of Curlin anything special for racing fans.  You took him to Dubai for the early part of the year which most people who don't follow racing wouldn't even know existed.  Also, the turf race at Belmont and the Foster are as obscure as it gets.

Curlin should have raced in the Santa Anita Handicap and the Pacific Classic.  The attendance for those races combined is almost 100,000.  Also, the media exposure would have been invaluable for racing.

I applaud you for bringing him back for his four year old year because I did get to see him run at the Breeder's Cup.  But, I think you missed the target on this one and you could have done great things and Curlin would have been remembered for years to come by racing fans all over this country.

16 Dec 2008 11:27 AM

You have no idea how much CURLIN has meant to me these past months -nearly two years! He helped me through a difficult time because of a lot of personal losses.  He gave me something to look forward to and focus on - always having the next race date set.  I set myself the goal of seeing him in person and accomplished that goal and dream when I drove from Michigan to Louisville to se him in the Stephen Foster.  What a glorious day where I also got to see Pyro, Dreaming of Anna, and Hystericalady win in addition to CURLIN's romp.  How exciting!  And my paddock photos are great.  To see this most magnificent, beautiful horse in person was much more than I had hoped for.  His golden coppery red coat glistened in the sun - a picture I had to repeat at his retirement tribute Nov. 29 when I again went to Louisville to see "my" CURLIN for the last time.  Had it not been for having CURLIN to look forward to, this year would have been near impossible for me to get through! Thank you for racing him as a 4-year old.  Too bad, though, he had to retire! But he did everything anyone could ever have asked of him - and in style. And I'm glad he's healthy retiring. That June 14 was the most exciting day in my life and is - together with his retirement tribute - forever burnt into my memory. So, thank you, CURLIN, for your brilliance, beauty, and stamina to stay long enough in racing for me to see you twice in person.  Your tribute Nov. was great as well in beautiful Churchill Downs in the sun once again.

I want you to know that I have a purebred silver Bengal cat named after you bearing your name proudly.  He's big, fast, affectionate, and calm - just like you! And every day I get to say "GO CURLIN!" just like I did every time you raced.

Be happy in your new career, be healthy, and give us some wonderful racing babies to enjoy in the future.  And don't be surprised to see me visit you one day at Lane's End!!!

Thank you for adding beauty and excitement to my life, mighty CURLIN!

GO CURLIN!!!!!!!

Inge Alger

16 Dec 2008 11:58 AM

Mr. Jackson - thank you for your thoughts, and for campaigning Curlin as a 4 year old.  He will be missed.  I hope he has a successful and long career as stud and we get to see lots of sparkling chestnuts with big shoulders and even larger hearts come to the track.  I'm glad he's going to Kentucky because I'll finally get to see him in person.  Is Pancho retiring too, or will he stay at work to keep other horses company on the track?

16 Dec 2008 12:26 PM

Mr. Jackson - Curlin, your team and you - class act. Thanks for the thrill of seeing a great 4 year old season, and I am so pleased Curlin has retired healthy and strong.

16 Dec 2008 12:34 PM
Lady Ruffian

Mr Jackson, thank you for being an example of how thoroughbred owners should manage their athletes, with care and a respect for their legacy along with the fans. Curlin was and is a pleasure to watch. I think I saw most of his races this year and was truly amazed with his power and grace. He is a champion for the ages and I hope that I will be able to make a trip to Lane's End to visit him soon. He was by far a stand out this year and is a personal fave of mine. Thank you for all you have done for the sport, i hope more owners will follow in your footsteps.

16 Dec 2008 12:49 PM

Thank you, Mr. Jackson.  

And from your lips to the racing gods ears - let us bring the simplistic beauty and sport of this game - sound, happy horses running longer distances and over longer careers - back to the fore.

Good luck with Curlin in the stud barn - hope he can reproduce himself!

16 Dec 2008 1:59 PM

Thanks for racing Curlin as a four year I was hoping he would race as a five year old But I am happy he retired without injury and will have a wonderlife life at Lanes end I cant wait till this summer we are going to go see him. Thanks for this great Champion  How is Pancho now that he is no longer with Curlin?  Darlene.

16 Dec 2008 2:05 PM

I attended the 2007 Belmont disappointed in the absence of Street Sense, and still seeing Curlin as something of a Triple Crown spoiler after his gutsy and close Preakness.  As he paraded before me his bearing, beauty and majesty impressed me.  In that great stretch drive with Rags to Riches, we were all cheering history to be made, while taking nothing away from Curlin's courage.  I saw him on track only once, but it was an honor and a great memory.  And Mr. Jackson, all the luck in trying to save this great sport from those who are killing it.

16 Dec 2008 2:29 PM

I applaud you running him as a4yr old. Felt you did it for his legacy. The most money earned is not all that impressive to many of us especially when at least a third of it made in one race in Dubai. I agree with poster above who said he should have been in some other American races and not trying for the Arc. Your statement before saying he is one of the top 10 of the last century had to be your prejudice speaking. Don't get me wrong. Curlin is a really good horse who tried everytime but could be beat. Being at Churchill the day he was paraded last month was a nice day and will be a good memory for me but where were you?

Thank you Curlin. You will be missed.

16 Dec 2008 3:17 PM

Thank you Jess.

16 Dec 2008 3:26 PM
Terry in Wisconsin






I was wondering about Poncho too.

16 Dec 2008 4:05 PM

Hello Mr. Jackson...As crestfallen as you are now regarding the retirement of your great champion Curlin....you will be amply rewarded during the ensuing years with his progeny continuing on with the nonpareil bloodlines of their iconic father..The legacy will continue...Thank goodness he will embark upon his new career both sound and healthy..which is worth everything..As an aside..you had noted however in your remarks here that your consternation regarding racings decline was perhaps due in part to owners not appointing an owners commissioner and forming their own league and synergizing as you had suggested in addition to increasing gaming revenues and marketing races for older horse..All vital components to survival..My question to you is will you perhaps now serve as an ambassador to the sport and  craft out definitive and sound marketing plans on how to spawn new and younger fans to fill these empty seats in the stands at race tracks across the land? Without live fans in the stands and live humans to root on the Curlins of this world..everything else is just inane...Racing itself is going through an catharsis now..as you are fully cognizant of...your towering presence would make an incredible difference in tipping the scale back to where it should be..and all with an well-defined blueprint for its future..Hopefully it will have one..You can make that difference...Not just as owner-breeder..but as an protagonist..Thank you for your kind window and again profound congratulations on Curlins success now an in the future as we all hope to see and hear your innovative and creative thoughts on saving this great sport..Warmest regards always..Steve Stone....East Hanover..New Jersey

16 Dec 2008 4:35 PM
Richard R

I saw the big red machine break his maiden at Gulfstream.  Green as can be but oozing nothing but raw talent.  OMG what a racehorse.  He got as good as I thought he would and it was a treat to see him run.  

Thanks Curlin.  

Thanks Mr. Jackson.

16 Dec 2008 4:50 PM

Thank you Mr. Jackson for racing Curlin as a four year old.  I had the great honor of seeing him win his Breeders Cup Classic, and although it was somewhat over shadowed at that very moment by the breakdown of George Washington, I was very happy to see Curlin in the Winners' Circle that day. I have a wonderful photo of Curlin and Poncho framed on my wall from the first time I saw him race at the Haskell.(Maybe Poncho can retire with his buddy.)  Hopefully Curlin will accept human visitors at his castle during the fall and not be shuttled back and forth to the other hemisphere. He is too precious to stress in that way.

That said, thank you Mr. Jackson and all your wonderful connections for great memories. May you have many wonderful sons and daughters of Curlin to cheer!

16 Dec 2008 5:00 PM

I came to tears reading this article. I love this boy Curlin so dearly yet never seen him in person. I wish him and all that came in contact with him all the best. I will miss this guy and look forward to see what his younguns will be like. Thank you Mr. Jackson for allowing us to love Mr. Curlin these past few years.

16 Dec 2008 5:17 PM

i never got to see Secretariat in person, so seeing Curlin at Santa Anita was the thril of a lifetime.

My husbabd and I stood watching a beautiful champion gallop and then work  and were just thrilled beyond words. We are owner/breeders (on a very small scale), but the sight of such a magnificent animal makes us realize we can only hope to have one that looks as good, let alone run. Curlin, may you have a wonderful retirement and may your babies fall into the hands of someone who really knows how to handle them and make them champions like their sire.

16 Dec 2008 5:24 PM

Thank you for your sporting gesture to run in the Classic. I believe he lost nothing by running 4th. He was a great horse to watch and I look forward to his offspring running.

16 Dec 2008 5:35 PM
Sally in Indy

Thank you, Mr. Jackson, for sharing Curlin with his many fans, and extending his career into this amazing fourth year. He is an unforgettable, exceptional horse, both on and off the track. We had the privilege of seeing him compete at Churchill in June, and of bidding him farewell, again at Churchill, just a couple of weeks ago during his retirement ceremony.

Indeed it was, and remains, a remarkable team.  (Oh, and don't forget Pancho!!)

Please keep expressing your thoughts and concerns about the direction of thoroughbred racing. Those of us who love the sport want  to help it return to the nation's spotlight. With more horses like Curlin, it will!

Thank you, again, for the wonderful memories.

Sally in Indy

16 Dec 2008 7:32 PM

i went to the 2007 jockey gold cup to see lawyer ron but when i laid eyes on curlin in the paddock it was love at first sight.  he was so calm and professional, and call me crazy, but he was bathed in an otherworldly glow.  i was hooked.  i couldn't wait to read about all his accomplishments as a 4 year old, and he never disappointed.  i went to see him at the breeders cup this year. the glow was gone.  he looked tired of it all.  i'm so glad that he was retired safe and sound.  he earned it.  thank you to all his connections but mostly thank you to curlin.  it was quite a ride!

16 Dec 2008 8:10 PM
Jordan S

Curlin was a true champion, and an absolute joy to watch. He was an impressive combination of size, speed, power, and most importantly, heart. Curlin captured my attention with his victory in the Preakness Stakes, a race that is one of the greatest I have ever seen, and he took my breath away in the 2007 Breeders Cup Classic. I had the opportunity to watch him in person that day, and he left me in awe. Not only was Curlin brilliant on the track, but he is one of the most impressive horses to look it, with his massive size and shiny copper coat. I thank Curlin for all the wonderful memories, and I look forward to visiting him in the near future.

16 Dec 2008 9:07 PM

The retirement of the 2007 & 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin sent ripples throughout the Horse Racing industry, and even more so through my home. I recall sitting there stunned that the announcement was actually made that verified what I had feared. I must be honest when I say that I have been in awe of Curlin since he was shipped to my hometown of Hot Springs, AR, and had the opportunity to see him run in person in the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby. I tried to keep things in perspective though when it comes to Curlin, unfortunatley that is easier said than done. after watching his electrifying victory in the Rebel, and the ease in which he dispatched a quality field in the Arkansas Derby it was important to watch the development of this imposing equine athlete. I watched his workouts and saw that Asmussen was very patient with Curlin and didn’t ask him to run his races while breezing. He showed up big-time for the Preakness. When you watched Curlin run the one thing you always recognized is that he always gave maximum effort, but that maximum effort continued to seem so effortless. Curlin is different because of the confidence that He instills in everyone that he comes into contact with. From Mr. Jackson to the fans, Curlin made you feel that he was royalty, so composed and professional and patient with regards to everything that he does. Curlin is something very very special, elite, magnificent, all of these words apply. So when you mention Curlin with the greats like Secretariat, and Cigar, which he totally deserves, it makes me think about the way that I had to begin to prepare myself mentally for each of his races.  I always brag about how impressive and dominant Curlin is but come race week or a bit before that, all of that stops, I don’t say anything about Curlin's upcoming race, I don’t feel its necessary to tell people about what I think he can or will do, I never wanted to jinx him by saying he's unbeatable. What I focused on was hoping he has the same pre-race week routine that he's always had. I've spoken with Steve Asmussen at Oaklawn and he told me about how the week before the race goes, how Curlin knows when a race is coming up, how professional he is in the paddock and how he's focused on the task at hand. As the race starts I hope that he leaves the gate evenly, he gets a clear lane with little traffic, and he makes that move coming off the turn for home. How he hits the wire, (Yes, I want him in front at the wire) but I’d much rather see him gallop out well and pull up, turn around and jog back to be unsaddled safely. That’s the extent of it, but its so consuming, I watch how he looks down the backside, if he looks comfortable, and if he seems to be going easy or having to assert himself too much early. I always want him to finish the race strong and be able to come back and unsaddle and go cool out.  The retirement announcement was so conflicting, it choked me up bad, as I sit here now and talk about my feelings for this wonderful animal it brings tears to my eyes. I can let go of these emotions because I am alone to myself, and I would guess that the finality of the words: “Curlin has been retired” is finally setting in. I was so conflicted due to the stress that I felt when he stepped out on the track, it was nerve wracking and now that worry is over. I will always recall the feelings that welled up inside me when Curlin trotted onto the track, I recall his public workout at Santa Anita Park in October, and I recall what it felt like to see him become the first horse to ever win $10 million In earnings. These memories will always be there for us as his fans to remember and there is a chance that in the future people will wonder how much better he would have been as a 5 year old, but not me for one, I enjoyed his career as he spoiled us with his consistency and as Asmussen says "Curlin spoils us with who he is". But Curlin’s connections made the wonderful decision to retire him 100% sound, and that decision is such a wonderful change from what we’re accustomed to. We are used to people either retiring their horse after their sophomore season or running them until they can’t run anymore. Kudos to you Mr. Jackson for this incredible year of allowing us as fans to be blessed with Curlin’s magnificent presence. I have only wonderful thoughts and memories of this incredible Champion, and as we say goodbye, let me last say to you Curlin:

***“Thank you for being you, Thank you for the memories, Thank you for all you have done for the industry & now relax & enjoy your Retirement”***

17 Dec 2008 12:42 AM

Thanks Mr. Jackson for bringing Curlin back for his 4 year old campaign...it was great to see him compete at all levels.

17 Dec 2008 3:33 AM

Thanks to the connections for letting us watch a horse mature in the public eye.  If only a few more owners would let their horses be race horses as they were bred to be instead of succombing to the prices oof syndication then perhaps we could have a few more true handicap horses in the world instead of high priced babies who cant stand the test of time.  

17 Dec 2008 6:44 AM

I love you, CURLIN; you know that. Everybody knows who knows me or have seen my blogs.

How about charming Dreaming of Anna? What beautiful chestnut babies that would make! Or how about Zeniatta?  Now the two of you would create unbeatable progeny I think.  Just a thought.  I din't know who makes these decisions; but lots of possibilities! And with your good looks, CURLIN, it should be an easy and pleasant task to charm a bunch of these incredible ladies of late!

Good luck, wonderful CURLIN!!!

I love you and always will.

Thank you for great mamories and more to come, sweet, beautiful boy!

GO CURLIN!!!!!!!!!1

17 Dec 2008 7:39 AM

I have got something very special for you and Barbara. The Tribute to Curlin poster is finished and will be in the mail in time for X-mas. You are going to love it!

17 Dec 2008 9:14 AM

Thank you for racing Curlin in his four year old year! Too many horses (colts) retire at age three, and you never get to see them or even get to know them. SO glad you ran him up here in Saratoga - we get so few Triple Crown race runners here - They must be scared of the "graveyard"

But Thanks!

17 Dec 2008 9:29 AM
Richard P

I traveled from Washington, DC to watch Curlin race in both Jockey Club Gold Cups, on the grass at Belmont, and the Woodward in Saratoga.

On the morning of his races, when I woke up, the first thought through my mind was:

"It's CURLIN Day!"

He was special to watch in the paddock, the way he would prick his ears and take in everything.  He was special to watch run, the way he would close the gap on the far turn and run by them all.  And he was special to watch walk back to the barn after the race, his sense of contentment.

It's Curlin Day!

17 Dec 2008 9:33 AM
Patties Critters

THANK YOU Jess & Barbara Jackson and the entire Curlin Team for sharing "The Mighty Curlin" with us. I have a feeling Lane's End is going to be very busy with many Curlin Fans visiting him in the next coming years. I look forward to meeting my Hero, "The Mighty Curlin" next year at Lane's End :) God Bless Everyone and Merry Christmas! GO "MIGHTY CURLIN" !!!!!  

17 Dec 2008 10:02 AM
Ida Lee

What a beautiful and talented champ we had in Curlin!!! I miss him so much. I just lost one of my felines to cancer(Sylvester) and I had to say goodbye to Big Brown who I also adore although I thank God that he's healthy and safe. Then Curlin!! It's almost too much. Curlin brought me so much happiness, just looking at him made my heart jump. I'm in tears now but so happy that he's healthy and I know he'll have a great life. I hate traveling but I most certainly am going to see him next year since I don't want to leave this world without seeing this glorious wonder of a horse.

17 Dec 2008 10:33 AM

Mr. Jackson, this year racing as a sport owes you and your team a debt of gratitude for racing the mighty Curlin as a 4yo.  You ran him in all the tough spots and he showed up everytime like true champions do.  He may not be in the class of Secretariat, Spectacular Bid,Holy Bull or Cigar but he is the undisputed champion of his generation, winning and always being the horse to beat in the summit events (Triple crown series, Breeder's cup and Dubai world cup).  In my opinion he has done enough to retain the HOTY title for 2008 and your team, for your bold exploits with Curlin, deserve to once again be the proud owners of the HOTY but that's left to be seen.  Thanks again and may you have the good fortune to be in charge of another star performer very soon.  Racing needs guys like you to be in the thick of things most of the times.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

17 Dec 2008 11:02 AM

Thank you, Mr. Jackson, for the beautiful article on Curlin and for giving everyone the chance to watch Curlin race as a 4 year old.  I hope that Curlin gets the honor that he deserves by getting the Horse of the Year honor.  Thank you for bringing him to Churchill Downs in November.  What a magnificent animal.  I can't wait to see him at Lane's End.

Thank you, Mr. Jackson, for giving us something to look forward to in Curlin.

17 Dec 2008 11:57 AM
Karen in Texas

Mr. Jackson, Thank you for your comments and personal insights on Curlin. His behavioral characteristics with his team of humans probably does reflect the trust you all instilled in him. The pictures of Steve Asmussen's little boys petting him (with his head low) at Churchill on his farewell day were particularly touching to me. I was a fan early in his career. I thought I saw greatness by the time of the Rebel Stakes, and was sure of it in the Preakness. His first Breeders' Cup and the Dubai World Cup truly defined his abilities and place in history. Thank you for retiring him sound and healthy. If he is as good a sire as he was a runner, then the racing world is in for something very special.

17 Dec 2008 12:00 PM

Dear Mr. Jackson, You've given us all something we've desperately needed in this industry - a great horse, a team with consummate class, and an example of what the "Sport of Kings" could be again if more would follow your example.  I just don't listen to anyone who does not see the greatness in both who Curlin is, and what he has accomplished over his two years of racing.  His legacy will be written in the books of the "greats", and someday his accomplishments will be far more elevated than what some of the skeptics insist on laboring on now.  I saw Curlin before the Derby and knew he was going to be a very special gift to the whole of racing.  I have followed him faithfully, even turning a hotel in New York upside down trying to get me hooked up to watch his Dubai World Cup win.  With your loving and caring ownership of him, and the example of profound care your team has given him, Curlin in all his beauty and exceptional capabilities was able to give us far more than most horses ever have or will.  I deeply hope he gets his due this year as Horse of the Year, and if not I think the history books will prove the decision wrong.  Thank you for being and living the better side of this sport!  I do have a couple of requests: please give us a website where we can keep up on the news of Curlin.  Many of us love him and don't want to let him just fade into siredom.  Also, PLEASE, let's have some Curlin/Rags to Riches babies!!  Thanks again, and keep plugging away at bringing this sport more integrity through a deep respect for these living, breathing, feeling, and magnificent animals that give us all they have, and then more.

17 Dec 2008 12:22 PM

I was there on February 3, 2007, as this unknown 3 year old made his career debut at Gulfstream Park.

As he came barreling out of that turn and into the stretch, I thought we were seeing something very special.

He came back to the winner's circle within 2 feet of me, and that was when I knew; you could see it all over his face. He was "someone" and not only did HE know it, he made you believe just by looking at him.

Beyond my wildest dreams I could not have imagined what was to come. He has been pure joy, with every race.

As a race fan for over 30 years, it's just been entirely too long to wait on "one of the ones", and while I wish Curlin had stayed in training to cement that historic mark conclusively, I am ever grateful for the time we had. I got to see him in FL during his stopover on the way to Dubai, and I traveled to KY to welcome him home in the Foster.

And I stood on the track at Santa Anita in tears when he returned from the Breeders Cup Classic just a couple months ago. I was disappointed he didn't win, but never once have I been disappointed in Curlin himself. And I wasn't on that day. I watched him glide by me to be unsaddled (with the crowd giving the most amazing and satisfying ovation for him), just needing to see for myself that he was ok, there was nothing wrong, and then I found a quiet spot in the tunnel to take a moment to reflect on who I always called "my little red horse"...and his career.

What a ride. Nothing better to say than that. I look forward to a visit to Lane's End sometime next year, to thank him myself. He gave back MUCH needed hope to this crippled sport we all still love so much, and I hope he makes other owners think less of the fast buck of early retirement, and more towards "What could be"..if they ran.

Mr. Jackson, all the fans thank you, you gave us a racehorse we'd collectively been screaming for for more than a decade. And did he ever deliver, as did you! You will always have my gratitude for that. Thank you for sharing YOUR little red horse with all of us. He was, and is, loved.

17 Dec 2008 1:54 PM

Thank you, thank you for sharing your lovely horse with us.  This gorgeous, special animal, whose life is certainly enhanced by having a considerate, thoughtful and well-rounded primary owner, is a tremendous inspiration on many fronts.  I trust the industry will greatly improve because of Curlin and your fight to add sensibility and compassion to the sport of TB racing.  

17 Dec 2008 5:35 PM

It's so easy to forget Curlin did all his running in only 21 months...we always talk about his running as a 4 year-old, we forget that the Derby was only his 3rd start...his equaling the Preakness track record only his 4th start...

Curlin, to me, was a very honest horse, every race, every time, his heart shone in his face... a real race horse.

17 Dec 2008 6:35 PM
Julie L.

Mr. Jackson, thank you so very, very much for letting us, the racing fans, have Curlin for as long as we did. I wish more owners would allow their top 3 year olds to go on and race as older horses. I absolutely love Curlin, his beauty, speed and grace on the racetrack was magnificent. Thank you for letting me see him in person at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup, it meant so very much to me to see him in person. Though he came in fourth he showed us how much heart he has. We fans hollered words of encouragement to him before the race, during the race and after the race. He is a truly great racehorse. Now I will wait patiently for his offspring to get to the racetrack and keep their father's name forever in the spotlight. Thank you again Mr. Jackson.

17 Dec 2008 6:40 PM

Thank you a million zillion times Mr. Jackson. All of the Curlin connections deserve the highest of honors. Racing needs more honest and caring people such as yourself to really save our great sport. I am confident that you are daily inspiring others to meet the challenges that exist. What can we say about the magnificant Curlin? It is like that precious childhood song that goes "o who can make a flower? no one but God I'm sure. Well, who could make a Curlin? no one but God I'm sure.

17 Dec 2008 10:13 PM

I appreciate what you've done. I love that you're pulling bloodlines from Argentina. Curlin was a lot of fun to watch workout and race.

But if you've accomplished anything, you've proved that any horse from 2000 on could have easily reached the same feat if only they had continued racing; and yes, they would've added to their stud value. Bernardini will be one horse retirement I'll never figure out.

You've shown that the top level of the game has yet to have been reached. If Street Sense had raced his next year, Afleet Alex or Smarty Jones - would they have all broken records too? I'll go with yes on that one. We have so much potential in this industry, it's a shame we refuse to achieve it.

17 Dec 2008 10:43 PM

I fell in love with this horse at Oaklawn.  The past two years were wonderful and I enjoyed every moment.  Thank you for racing him.  I wish you could have risked even another year, but that would be asking a lot.  He's a beautiful horse with a kind soul.  I hope he has a good life and brings us some foals even better than him.  Thank you Curlin for making the last two years memorable.

18 Dec 2008 12:22 AM

Mr. Jackson -Thank You. You had the horse of the year and could have rested on his laurels..but you thought more of him and of us fans. It was thrilling to watch Curlin further blossom as a 4yo. I was awe-struck at his presence at the Breeders' Cup. I have never experienced live what I saw and felt. As Curlin appeared on the track, the sun reflected off of him as if he were a newly minted copper penny. And then the roar...it passed through me like a bass amp at a rock concert---up and over, higher and louder - over the top of the grandstand and into the warm California afternoon sky. I've seen and heard a crowd cheer on pro basketball players, but this was so much more. I'll never forget Curlin as he left the track. He glanced over his shoulder, expecting to head into the tunnel to the spit box. He realized "not this time" and looked forward as he headed down the track with the other contestants. The crowd again, gave thunderous applause as he passed by. Curlin pulled his head high and stared intently into the grandstand, acknowleged the salute, and walked out proud. What a horse! What a year! Thank you for an everlasting gift, Mr. Jackson. I can only hope that other owners can rise to your level of generousity.

18 Dec 2008 3:09 AM

AfleetAlexForever, your comments were great and so well written that I got jealous of not having written that blog.  You express my feelings so well! I was always an avid Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex fan before CURLIN "took over my life".  I loved those horses so much.  But CURLIN is in a league of his own - a superior specimen and athlete.  Thanks for a great blog! I love this blog because the BB fans aren't here to bash CURLIN!!! There's too much bashing on other blogs; this is a great blog where we CURLIN fans can express our love for this unique horse who has touched our lives, enriched our hearts, and truly generated a lot of opportunity for us to convey our love for CURLIN and share that with others like us - "the CURLIN nation".  I was very touched when reading many of your comments on this blog.  Thank you, Mr. jackson, for letting us get this opportunity! Great idea! I hope this blog continues into the new year at least until HOY honors and after for a little while (good luck with HOY - CURLIN deserves another year of it!).  The love affair with "MIGHTY CURLIN" continues! What a ride he gave us! What an exciting year or more he gave us! What beauty in motion he provided us! How lucky I feel to live at the same time and see this glorious horse! Happy Holidays to CURLIN, his connections, and to all of you CURLIN fans out there.

I love you, CURLIN!

GO CURLIN!!!!!!!

18 Dec 2008 11:00 AM

Although I will miss watching Curlin run, I am so pleased that he retired without injury.  Mr. Jackson, you should be commended for racing him as long as you did and without fear of taking on any horse in any country on any type of a racetrack.  Those that have criticized your choice to run Curlin in the Dubai World Cup must not have watched that race.  I did it and it was a thrill to watch!  Curlin is the best horse of this century and I am confident that his legacy will surpass his money earnings!  Good luck with your future and good luck to Curlin in the breeding shed!

18 Dec 2008 11:08 AM

If it's all about the fans, and if you know he would only add to his legacy if he continued racing, why is he not continuing to race?

18 Dec 2008 1:10 PM


I mentioned Dubai as part of the earnings-not criticizing and sorry I saw that race and it was the best of the year for Curlin. I do see someone else mentioning Dubai and the races that person mentioned he would have liked to see Curlin in are run late summer not when Dubai is-he was talking about it from a marketing viewpoint. No one feels Curlin was not a real good race horse but best horse of the century proves there are a lot of races YOU haven't watched-sorry!

18 Dec 2008 1:16 PM

Thank you Mr. Jackson.  I had the chance to see history in the making when Curlin ran and won at Saratoga in the Woodward.  He definately likes the crowd cause he looked like he was counting everyone that was applauding him!  He's gorgeous. How about breeding him to Rags to Riches?  That would make some beautiful offspring colts/fillies.  Everyone is wondering about Poncho, myself included.  Happy Holidays to you and your family.

18 Dec 2008 2:26 PM
Brian A.

Thanks Mr. Jackson! I went to see Curlin race six times and it was amazing, the experiance of my life!

18 Dec 2008 3:53 PM

 Curlin was a horse who enriched all of his fans lives. I for one looked forward to and watched all of his races this year and last, pulling for him in every one with the t.v. on full blast hollering at the top of my lungs. GOOO CURLIN. Thanks for the great races Curlin and Jess for enableing him to run in them.

 Curlin is the best horse so far this century. Didn't we just turn over a new century in the year 2000? Perhaps people are confusing the horses of the 70's and earlier with the previous century.

18 Dec 2008 3:59 PM

 OOOPS I meant confusing them with this century.

18 Dec 2008 4:51 PM

Thanks Mr. Jackson, you are true sportsman.  Even though you didn't know how Curlin would handle the turf or artificial surface you tried it anyway.  I couldn't be more proud of Curlin for what he accomplished.  I think if he had more time on the turf and artificial surfaces he would have dominated those too.  I thank you for being a responsible owner and speaking out about the changes that need to be made.  It will take people like you to get meaningful changes made.  Curlin is one of my all time favorites and always will be.  A truly GREAT CHAMPION!!!      

18 Dec 2008 6:04 PM

Lack of knowledge as a horseman and racing enthusiast prevents me from saying Curlin is the greatest, the best of our century, or among the elite. However there is nothing that prevents me from appreciating his accomplishments, intelligence, and beauty.  From that end, he will always be among my favorites.  Hats off to the Mr. Jackson and his team on the management of Curlin.  Risks were taken, challenges thrown down and for a brief moment I basked in what horse racing used to be.

18 Dec 2008 7:25 PM

I truly enjoy the sport of racing and Curlin was a joy to watch.  It would probably never happen, but wouldn't it be great to see the offspring of such sound and game stock as Curlin and Pepper's Pride?

18 Dec 2008 9:36 PM

In reading the testimony before congress this past summer which included Mr Jacksons comments, I have to feel disappointed as to the state of racing in this country. Mr Jackson and others talk about a racing league and a national governing body, but nothing seems to happen but empty discussions. The oversight committee hearings were a knee jerk reaction to the breakdown of a beautiful filly in the Derby. Mr Jackson is fairly new to this sport and paid the price of naiviety in some of his dealings in the industry. I believe while his ideas are to be commended, he hasn't the experience to know the history of what we are up against. This industry has to organize as one body representing owners, not trainers, vets or jockeys. We put on the show and should be compensated accordingly. this will only happen with one strong union, negotiating with tracks and off track wagering sites. Perhaps Mr Jackson should step back and take a look at how the Obama campaign (like him or not) raised billions of dollars through the internet and stirred the interest of hundreds of people that might have been complacent and not have cast a vote. A grass roots effort with a single cause ( horse owners ) can take place with the right management. I would support Mr Jackson if he wanted to start this organization and I would contribute both time and money to the cause. It is time to organize or be defeated.

19 Dec 2008 1:40 AM

I am thankful that we were able to enjoy the career of this fine champion.  While he appears so majestic in many of his photos, the ones I enjoyed the best were of Curlin putting his head down for Steve's kids to pet him.  This showed me that while he was a tough competitor on the track, he was also a very happy, intelligent horse who knew he was loved and cared for by those around him.  That first morning he wasn't in Steve's barn must have been a bit tough to take.  Here's hoping he enjoys the good life in Kentucky.

19 Dec 2008 7:09 AM
Average Fan

Thanks so much for sharing Curlin with us this past year. I can barely wait to see how beautiful his babies will be and, more than that, can't wait for them to race.  I can't agree with you more about the need to have breeding a sound, durable racehorse make financial sense in the industry.  And, like "Drake" above, if I could help improve things I would be interested to pitch in, so the idea of 'grass roots' involvement might work, let us know what we can do. Thanks again to Mr. Jackson and the whole Curlin Team!

19 Dec 2008 9:33 AM



19 Dec 2008 10:02 AM

Have been a big fan since watching him win at Oaklawn. I was at Pimlico on Preakness day to watch what was one of the most exciting races I have ever witnessed.

19 Dec 2008 11:14 AM

Beautifully written and truely show the love of an owner for a beautiful and awe inspiring horse.

19 Dec 2008 1:37 PM

What a lovely stallion advertisement.

19 Dec 2008 6:58 PM

Good luck to you Curlin.  My wish is for you to live a healthy, long life around people that will love and care for you.

I also always enjoyed seeing Poncho.

What is Poncho going to do now?

19 Dec 2008 11:15 PM

What class!!!  Mr. Jackson, you have conducted yourself with dignity and grace much the way your outstanding horse ran his races.  You have led by example a true sign of a leader.  God Bless Curlin and his all of his babies!

20 Dec 2008 7:52 AM
Will W

When the racing public is reduced to thanking an owner for running a horse as a 4 year old as many in this blog have done, it's not likely that thoroughbred horse racing will return to the pure love of sport Mr. Jackson hopes it will. Jackson's an intelligent and thoughtful owner; thus, it's hard to believe he seriously  thinks this will happen - let alone sees a shred of evidence that it will, including that of  his own actions in the early retirement of Curlin. Is it truly a laudable sporting achievement that Curlin was allowed to run as a 4 year old while Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Any Given Saturday never saw the track - only the breeding stall - as 4 year olds ? Maybe his - Jackson's - is just a PR statement designed to ease the pain of racing fans bummed by Curlin's premature retirement. Right now horse racing is an industry and a business where material gain has become a false idol all pursue. It truly is a misnomer to any longer dub it "The Sport of Kings" - better "The Business of Capitalists" as a more accurate reflection of what it's now about. The true state of affairs is that the racing public is robbed on a consistent basis of seeing the best horses perform as they are retired prematurely as 3 and 4 year olds. Curlin may well have become one of the great handicap horses of all time like a Damascus or a Dr. Fager, a Buckpasser or a Kelso, if he was allowed to do what race horses are bred to do, but the racing public will never know if he was of  that caliber as he disappeared far too soon to the breeding stall. And why retire Curlin on a loss that raised questions about his greatness and place in racing history ? At least, allow the horse to redeem himself on the dirt in the Clark Handicap against a rival of the caliber of Commentator if you're going to prematurely send him to stud duty. Curlin came out of the BC Classic sound and was on the grounds at Churchill Downs being galloped. In perspective, thinking long term, there would have been plenty of time to infuse Curlin's genes into upcoming generations, as Mr. Jackson says he is so eager to see happen, after letting the horse remain on the track for another one to two years. Who doubts Curlin's proven durability would have enabled him to continue to race on as 5 and 6 year old before he was retired to stud ? If Jackson had done that with Curlin, it might have made his statement that he hopes racing will return to the pure love of sport more convincing. Would Curlin's interests have remembered how the old adage goes ?  "Lead by example." Running Curlin as a 4 year old was but a first, short step in that direction.

20 Dec 2008 10:32 AM

It's been a hell of a ride hasn't it Mr. Jackson? You danced every dance, went where very few men get to go, and I thank you for thinking enough of us to allow us to experience him as long as we did, even when it went against your original plans, you thought of us. You didn't have to but you did. Thank you. If another Curlin comes around,I hope he's owned by you.

20 Dec 2008 12:43 PM
christy tate

wanted to say thanks to all of curlin's connections for keeping him sound and able to race this year.he was awesome to watch.hopefully, he'll pass on his greatness.

20 Dec 2008 1:38 PM
Paula in Texas

Team Curlin--what a ride!!  The first time I saw him, I couldn't take my eyes off him.  Dubai gave him the world stage!!  A classy team that demonstrated their love of the horse and the sport.  Gotta love Curliln's mind and temperament as much as his soundness and performance.  I began to pray more for his safety than for his win.  Thankfully, he's retiring sound.  Can't wait to see his babies!!  Thanks to the Jacksons for that 4th year and all it contributed to the sport and the fans.  He ran in all types of weather on all types of tracks against all comers.  Even in his few losses he made us proud of the sportmanship he represented because he was always up for the next challenge as was the Jackson team!!  What a marvelous example of how the outside of a horse can be so good for the inside of a man/woman!!  God bless!!  

20 Dec 2008 10:48 PM

Thank you, Mr. Jackson, for bringing Curlin back for his four year old season.  I have been a fan of Curlin since the start of his career, and was lucky enough to make it down to Belmont in September for the Gold Cup.  When he came into the paddock I was awestruck by his pure beauty and regal demeanor.  In the warm up he and Pancho went all the way down the stretch to the turn, and cantered back to the gate.  What a beautiful sight.  What an astonishing horse.  He won with ease, and when he went back through the tunnel I wanted to reach out and touch him.  Thank you all for this special horse and for the love and care that you gave him.  I, too, look forward to visiting him one day at Lane's End.

21 Dec 2008 8:06 AM



21 Dec 2008 1:06 PM
Karen in Texas

This is a P.S. to my post of December 17. Despite his retirement, Curlin is still ranked first in the world by Timeform--not a surprise to many of us. Again, thanks, Mr. Jackson.

21 Dec 2008 3:31 PM

I loved watching this horse throughout his career.  What a truly great racehorse.  I don't think I fully appreciated him though until the Dubai World Cup.  He was truly AMAZING in that race -WOW!  He has got to be Horse of the Year for 2008.  I love Zenyatta too but Curlin accomplished more in my mind.  He won the Dubai World Cup and 3 other Grade 1's in the same year;  became the all time record holder for winnings exceeding $10M, won over $5M for the second year in a row, placed on the turf in his first try in a Grade 1 race; came in 4th in the Breeder's Cup in his first try on the synthetic surface against a pretty strong field (I think he would have done better if he had another race under his belt on the synthetic, he was too far back).  Anyway Curlin is one the BEST ever and will always be remembered by the fans.  Thanks Mr. Jackson for sharing him with us for 2 wonderful years.

21 Dec 2008 4:08 PM

Congratulations on owning the "horse of a lifetime".  He was magnificent.  As you know, the world is full of naysayers.  Curlin needed either a well deserved rest, or retirement.  Here's looking to the next generation!  

Thanks for the ride!

21 Dec 2008 8:41 PM

Mr. Jackson,

You have been the consummate sportsman and owner; and your great horse Curlin has been the consummate champion. You kept him racing as a four-year-old, and we are all so grateful; and if that wasn't enough, you and Curlin were willing to take risks, which is  the trait of a winner. A few of those risks didn't work out as you and we had hoped, but through everything, Curlin remained the champion, always with a commanding presence, and he touched our hearts; and you, sir have been extremely gracious under all circumstances.

Curlin danced every dance, never ducked a challenge, and remains, now and forever, great. His conquests, his honors, and his all-time North American earnings record are monumental and now etched in history; yet Curlin is so much more than all these incredible achievements. He exemplifies all that is good and virtuous in the Thoroughbred: an equine athlete of profound beauty, power, grace, class, perseverance, and unfailing courage.

In future years I will look forward to seeing Curlin's amazing legacy continued through his sons and daughters; somehow, I know that through his progeny, we will still have part of Curlin with us.

Health, long life, and happiness, to Curlin, to you, and to your family.

Happy Holidays.

21 Dec 2008 11:07 PM

Mr Jackson, you are a true gentleman and an asset to this sport. As I type this, all that I can think of is Thank You, and Curlin, for a wonderful ride. I share your belief about racing, and what needs to be done to fix it, I just wish you were forty years younger, as I know YOU could make these changes happen. God Bless.

22 Dec 2008 12:18 PM
Mike M


I have followed horse racing since I was a child and have never fallen so deeply in love with a horse as I have with Curlin.  Your decision to run him as a 4 year-old made this year for me and I will always be grateful.  In my opinion, Curlin is among the all-time greats not only for his amazing achievements and great heart, but also for the raw power and beauty he possessed.  I have never seen anything like him and that includes Secretariat, who I always thought was the most beautiful horse I'd ever seen.  And the fact that Curlin's talent matched his beauty only added to his magnificence.  I will never forget the thrill of his Preakness, 2007 Breeders Cup, and Dubai World Cup victories, which I feel stand out as his greatest performances. I also was at Belmont to watch his last victory in the 2008 Jockey Club Gold Cup, which is a race that will also have a special place in my heart. I am so sad that I'll  never get to see him run again, nor enjoy the days of anticipation that preceded each of his races.  I know I'll probably never get to enjoy a thoroubred's career like I did his.  But I am so thankful that I got to experience what I did and will never forget what you did by bringing him back.  Thank you Jess.  Thank you Curlin.  Good luck in the next phase of your career.  

24 Dec 2008 9:30 AM

My thoughts echo those of the commenters before me: you, Curlin, & the entire Curlin team will be sorely missed.  I cannot forget how clearly it has been conveyed that Curlin & Pancho, his stable pony/mate, have been inseparable companions for each other.  And I cannot imagine how the two could/should ever be separated.  Pancho will accompany Curlin & be at Lane's End with him, won't he?  Apart from each other, they would be two miserable, unhappy horses...that is for sure.

06 Jan 2009 7:49 PM

Good luck tonight, magnificent CURLIN!

You deserve HOY again!

No other horse can ever do for me what you have done in the past two years; you will always be first with me, and I will never forget you - and will visit you as soon as possible.

GO CURLIN!!!!!!!!!!!

I love you...........Inge

26 Jan 2009 8:03 AM

Congratulations, big boy! I knew you deserved HOY big time! You're the greatest and most beautiful as well! I'm so proud of you and your connections to bring you there two years in a row. You will now be remembered as one of the greats!

I just hope you will be happy in your new place and career!

I love you, my beautiful boy.

GO CURLIN!!!!!!!!

27 Jan 2009 7:44 AM

Please tell me if Rachel Alexandra will be able to race at the 2010 Kentucky Derby.  I hope so and I hope you enter her.  I cannot find out if she will be 4 before that time

12 Sep 2009 6:08 AM
Blood-Horse Staff

SnowDove - Rachel Alexandra will officially turn 4 on January 1, 2010. Her actual birthday is January 29. She is not eligible to compete in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, which is only for 3-year olds.

12 Sep 2009 10:50 AM

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