Newsflash: Curlin is a monster. His Stephen Foster romp while carrying a small anchor on his back confirmed as much. As far as most are concerned, he is the best horse in the world - hands down. This much is undisputed.
But here are a few questions that I pose to you: Where does he rank on the list of best horses since 1979? And if he is not yet among your top horses now, what does he have to do the rest of his career to crack your list?
If Curlin's career ended today he would have posted a 9-1-2 record from 12 starts, with earnings of $9.3 million. He has five grade or group I victories, including the Preakness, Breeders' Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup. He has a Horse of the Year title and is well on his way to a second.
From what Steve Asmussen has been saying the last few days, it seems as though Curlin could be pointed to France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October. A victory there would give him a group I on turf, which would build his impressive résumé even more. If he does indeed go that route, it seems Curlin would have a turf prep race in July over here before heading to France, have one race in France prior to the Arc, and then likely close out his career on Oct. 5. Obviously, this would mean skipping the BC Classic at Santa Anita and the highly-anticipated match-up with Big Brown.
Should he win the Arc Curlin will have, in my mind, done enough to be considered the best horse since Cigar - who he would also pass in earnings to become the world's all-time money earner.
Better than Cigar? No way. Curlin will likely end his career with only 15 starts - one fewer than the 16 consecutive wins that Cigar posted. In all, Cigar was 19-4-5 from 33 starts with two Horse of the Year titles. His body of work is just too vast for Curlin to top him.
But what about other great North American horses in the last 30 years? Obviously he is not in Spectacular Bid's class, but what about Skip Away, Sunday Silence, Easy Goer, Alysheba, Slew o' Gold or even Personal Ensign? More recently, how does he compare to Silver Charm, Holy Bull, Point Given, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Barbaro?
I'm curious to see where people stand on this. Assuming Curlin wins his last three, including the Arc, here is how I would rank the top 10 over the last 30 years:
- Spectacular Bid
- John Henry
- Skip Away
- Sunday Silence
- Easy Goer
- Silver Charm
- Point Given