Curlin’s Needle is being bred in 2017 to Flashback (Tapit x Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley; $7,500 LFSN at Hill ‘N’ Dale)
After she came up empty in 2016 to A.P. Indy’s son Girolamo, Curlin’s Needle will be bred in 2017 to Flashback, who is a speedy, young member of the A.P. Indy sire-line. As we mentioned last year, we acquired Curlin’s Needle specifically to breed to an A.P. Indy-line stallion in order to duplicate the cross that has produced Sovereign Champion and classic winner Eye of the Leopard, multiple Graded stakes winner Deceptive Vision, and their stakes-winning full-brother Hotep – all of whom are sired by A.P. Indy out of Curlin’s Needle’s close relative, the Sovereign Champion and classic-winning Smart Strike mare Eye of the Sphynx.
Flashback broke his maiden in his only start at 2-years-old for trainer Bob Baffert, going 7 furlongs over the all-weather surface at Hollywood Park in December of that season. As the even-money favorite, Flashback rated early before drawing clear by an impressive three-and-a-half lengths in 1:23 flat, immediately vaulting himself into the conversation for the following spring’s Kentucky Derby. For his second start, Flashback was stepped immediately into Grade 2 company going 1-1/16 miles in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. Favored once again, Flashback went wire-to-wire by an easy six lengths in a short field of four, kicking well clear in the stretch. After the race, Baffert called Flashback a “monster” and referred to him as “really talented” and a “special horse.”
Next up in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, Flashback battled on the front end early with Goldencents, dueling that rival into defeat before ending up a half-length 2nd to late-running winner Hear the Ghost, and he was 2nd again in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby when he was unable to match Goldencents through the lane but came home eight lengths clear of Super Ninety Nine, who finished 3rd. Unfortunately, Flashback exited the Santa Anita Derby with a knee chip and missed the Triple Crown. He returned that fall, after seven months away from the races, to be beaten just a head when 2nd in the 7-furlong Damascus Stakes, and then was a closing 4th in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes after a bad break took him out of his usual style near the front end.
Flashback was favored in each of those first six starts to begin his career. He raced once more, returning from a nine-month layoff under the care of trainer Wayne Catalano to be an off-the-pace 3rd in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs as a 4-year-old. Flashback retired to Hill ’N’ Dale with a record of (7) 2-3-1 and earnings of $405,730.
Well-supported at stud by owners Gary and Mary West, Flashback was popular with outside breeders as well, including via the Wests’ version of the “Breed Secure” program pioneered by Spendthrift Farm. Flashback covered 157 mares in 2015, his first season at stud, and another 115 mares in 2016. Curlin’s Needle will be a member of his third book in 2017.
Flashback’s first weanlings sold in 2016, and sixteen of them averaged $38,000 off of his $7,500 stud fee, with a pair of colts each bringing $100,000. These results are not overly surprising for a son of three-time reigning North American leading sire Tapit (who will stand for $300,000 again in 2017), who is himself a very good-looking individual (at $260,000, Flashback was the third highest-priced weanling of his year by Tapit).
The TrueNicks rating for this mating, based on the cross of Pulpit and his sons over Mr. Prospector and his sons and grandsons, is a “B+”, highlighted by Tapit’s Grade 1 winners Ring Weekend, Constitution, Zazu, Dance Card and Pretty City Dancer. The foal from this mating will be inbred 5x5x4 to both Mr. Prospector and Nijinsky II. Reinforcing Mr. P has worked very well so far for Tapit, as witnessed by the list of Grade 1 winners in this paragraph, and he has also sired Grade 1 winner Sweet Loretta, plus Grade 2 winners Scuba and West Coast Belle, who are all inbred to Mr. P four times in their first five generations (Curlin’s Needle’s foal by Flashback will have a fourth line of Mr. P in its sixth generation).
In addition to the successful cross of sire-lines, Curlin’s Needle herself is a half-sister to the stakes-placed, five-time winner Clearer View, by Tapit, as well as to another winner by the A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon.
It is also worth mentioning that Curlin’s Needle’s sire Curlin has had strong results so far when crossed with mares from the line of A.P. Indy’s sire Seattle Slew, with his runners from such mares including Eclipse Champion Stellar Wind, Grade 1 winners Exaggerator and Off the Tracks, plus Grade 2 winner Moulin de Mougin. English Channel, another son of Smart Strike, has also sired a pair of Graded stakes winners from Seattle Slew-line mares. So while it is too early in Curlin’s stud career for him to have accumulated any meaningful broodmare sire statistics, there is every reason to expect that his daughters will blend nicely with sires from the line of A.P. Indy.
Finally, in addition to the foregoing pedigree-related reasons that led us to this mating, the pair should make a nice physical match, as Curlin’s Needle is a big, coarse mare who could use an injection of the speed and refinement that Flashback possesses.