In a typical year, 1,600 Pennsylvania-breds compete on the racetrack for average earnings of $27,600. Of the 50,000+ who have raced across the globe since 1985, only an elite group of 31 horses have broken the seven figure mark in earnings. Over the course of summer 2020, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association will be chronicling a ten-part series featuring the select group of Pennsylvania-breds who reached the unique and rare accomplishment of $1,000,000 in racetrack earnings. Join us to celebrate and remember some of the greatest racehorses the Keystone State has produced.

Yankee Affair: Aged Like Fine Wine

The Jenney’s Derry Meeting Farm in Cochranville, Pennsylvania has accumulated a long list of accomplishments for the Pennsylvania breeding and racing industry. Being responsible for breeding three Pennsylvania-bred millionaires is among that list, and the very first was by far the most accomplished.

In the early 1980s, Derry Meeting acquired a mare by the name of My Malchen. A daughter of Gotham winner Debbysman, My Malchen had already produced four foals with little success by the time she ended up in Pennsylvania. At the time, Derry Meeting was standing the stallion Northern Fling, a Grade 3 winning son of leading sire Northern Dancer. My Malchen was sent to Northern Fling for her first foal on behalf of Derry Meeting, and a bay colt was born on May 1, 1982. 

Raised at Derry Meeting for the first year of his life, the colt was entered in the Fasig-Tipton Eastern Fall Selected Yearling Sale at Fair Hill. When the gavel fell, My Malchen’s colt was purchased on behalf of trainer Henry L. Carroll for a mere $10,200.

Henry Carroll was completing his seventh year of training at the time he purchased the colt, and he had enjoyed moderate success in the Mid-Atlantic and Massachusetts area. Carroll had purchased the colt on behalf of partners Jay Garsman and Martin Scheinmen, and together the three of them campaigned the soon-to-be-named Yankee Affair under Jujugen Stable.

Yankee Affair was very slow to develop, but his connections were willing to give him the time he needed to come into his own. His name never showed up in the entry box as a two-year-old, and the same occurred the following year at age three, but finally, halfway through 1986 and at the age of four, Yankee Affair entered the starting gate for the first time.

The third time was the charm for Yankee Affair, finding the winner’s circle in his third start at Monmouth Park on June 25, 1986. He followed it up with an allowance score only twelve days later. He picked up three more allowance placings in six subsequent starts before making his first foray to Pennsylvania, and Yankee Affair ended his first season of racing with victories in the Pennsylvania Sprint Championship and Iroquois Handicaps at Philadelphia Park.

Yankee Affair continued on with modest success at the allowance level into his five-year-old year when Henry Carroll decided a switch to grass would be worth a try. It was a decision that would alter the trajectory of Yankee Affair’s entire career.

Yankee Affair reeled off three straight wins, taking an allowance, a handicap, and the Sharannpour Stakes before Carroll thought his charge warranted a step up to the graded stakes level for the first time. Yankee Affair made his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Laurel Turf Cup and did not disappoint, rolling home to claim the first major win of his career. He followed up with a second place effort in the G3 Knickerbocker Handicap before securing one more victory in the handicap ranks to close out 1987.

Returning at age six in 1988, Yankee Affair began to come into his own on the grass. He began his season with a victory in the G3 Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park before finishing second in the G2 Canadian Turf and fifth in his first try at the Grade 1 level in the Pan American. Regrouping, Yankee Affair traveled to Fair Grounds to pick up a score in the Mutual Savings Life Gold Cup before returning to the graded level in Kentucky. He tallied victories in the G3 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland and the Early Times Turf Classic at Churchill Downs prior to finishing third in the G2 Red Smith Handicap.

Traveling north of the border for the first time, Yankee Affair put on one of the most stellar performances of his career while winning the Grade 3 King Edward Gold Cup at Woodbine. Rolling to victory in the 1 ⅛ mile contest, Yankee Affair stopped the clock in a world-record equaling 1:45 ⅖ while shattering Woodbine’s track record. Perhaps his world-record equaling performance took a bit out of him because Yankee Affair ended his year with two off-the-board efforts at the Grade 1 level before getting a deserved rest.

Yankee Affair’s seven-year-old season of 1989 was bound to be his best yet. After shaking off the rust from his layoff in an allowance event, Yankee Affair reappeared at the stakes level in Keeneland’s Fort Harrod Stakes, cruising to a track-record setting performance in 1:43 ⅗ for a mile and a sixteenth. With a bout of seconditis following, he finished runner-up in three Grade 3 events, the Elkhorn, Early Times Turf Classic, and Red Bank Handicap before finally shaking off his bad luck in the G3 Oceanport Handicap. 

With New Jersey being Henry Carroll and Yankee Affair’s home base, the pair took a crack at the Grade 1 level again in Atlantic City’s United Nations Handicap. In his fourth top-level try, Yankee Affair finally broke through to take home the United Nations and secure his first Grade 1 victory.

Following a second-place effort in the G2 Longfellow Handicap and a decent third in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, Yankee Affair began to make his case for a year-end championship upon his return to New York. He reeled off two more Grade 1 victories in the Man o’ War and Turf Classic, his first victory at the classic turf distance of 1 ½ miles, in a fifteen-day span.

Opting to skip the Breeders’ Cup Turf for the G1 Budweiser International at Laurel Park, Yankee Affair checked in second before ending his stellar season with another runner-up effort in the G1 Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park. He would end up finishing second in the voting for champion turf horse behind Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Steinlen. 

Right off the bat in 1990, Yankee Affair proved he was still up to the task at age eight. He romped home to an allowance victory at Keeneland, stopping the clock in a track-record setting performance of 1:36 flat for the mile. Following seconds in the G2 Elkhorn and G3 Early Times Turf Classic, Yankee Affair turned in what would end up being his final career victory in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Belmont Park. He subsequently finished third in the G3 Poker and G3 Longfellow before finishing second in his final race, the G3 Knickerbocker Handicap, on November 6, 1990.

While Yankee Affair had intentions to return as a nine-year-old in 1991, he ended up suffering a hairline fracture in one of his pastern joints, and it ultimately ended his racing career. While the injury itself was not very severe, complications arose following surgery to set the fracture, and it was decided that the best decision was to euthanize Yankee Affair. He was nine-years-old.

From five years on the racetrack, Yankee Affair entered the starting gate fifty-five times with twenty-two wins, fourteen seconds, and eight thirds for career earnings of $2,282,156. Having been purchased for $10,200 as a yearling, he more than returned his investment. Among his twenty-two victories were fifteen stakes wins, including nine graded stakes victories. Three of his graded victories came at the Grade 1 level during his stellar 1989 season. He broke three track records and equaled the world mark for 9 furlongs on the grass.

Following his passing at the age of nine, Yankee Affair was buried at trainer Henry Carroll’s farm in St. Matthews, South Carolina.

With Anticipation: The Great Gray Gelding

Of the record five Pennsylvania-bred millionaires that George Strawbridge has bred and raced over the years, his greatest by far was a gray gelding by the name of With Anticipation.

It was late 1992 when Strawbridge came to acquire the broodmare Fran’s Valentine. A California-bred daughter of Saros, Fran’s Valentine was already infamous for being the first horse ever disqualified from a Breeders’ Cup race. In the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the very first Breeders’ Cup race at the inaugural championship event, Fran’s Valentine crossed the wire first in a huge upset but was subsequently disqualified and placed tenth for interference around the final turn. She would go on to prove she was no fluke, reeling off Grade 1 victories in the Santa Susana Stakes, Kentucky Oaks, and Hollywood Oaks the following year. 

Upon retirement, Fran’s Valentine resided at owner/breeder Earl Scheib’s Green Thumb Farm in California. She produced three foals for Scheib before his passing in 1992, and the remainder of his breeding stock, including Fran’s Valentine, were dispersed at the 1992 Barretts Equine Sale. Fran’s Valentine did not end up meeting reserve on a $290,000 hammer, and George Strawbridge moved in to privately acquire her. The following year, she delivered her first foal on behalf of Strawbridge and was essentially an immediate success.

From her first two foals in the white and green Augustin Stable colors, Fran’s Valentine produced Group 3 winner and Group 3 placed runners in France. For her third foal on his behalf, George Strawbridge opted to send the mare to the stallion Relaunch. The son of In Reality had been on the rise following the recent successes of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Skywalker and three-time G1 winner Waquoit. 

On March 27, 1995, Fran’s Valentine delivered a soon-to-be gray colt in Pennsylvania. Named With Anticipation, he would become one of the most successful racehorses George Strawbridge ever campaigned. 

Strawbridge sent With Anticipation to Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, and the colt was set to debut late in his two-year-old season. After a roughed-up fourth place finish at first asking, With Anticipation returned on November 10, 1997 to break his maiden by a length in last-to-first fashion at Delaware Park. He followed up with an allowance victory in his first foray at Philadelphia Park before closing out his juvenile year with a close third-place finish in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes.

With a myriad of issues appearing while he was three-years-old, With Anticipation only ran three times with a third-place effort in allowance company his best showing. He was gelded and sent to Florida over the winter to prepare for a four-year-old campaign. Starting out with a close second at the allowance level, he returned next out to romp by 8 ¾ lengths. 

With Anticipation’s big performance earned him a try at the graded stakes level, but he returned to the allowance ranks following a dull showing in Grade 3 company. The gelding picked up two victories and two thirds from four subsequent starts before returning to Philadelphia Park for the Iroquois Handicap. He finished a leveled third in that stakes affair before losing a heartbreaking photo finish in the Creme Fraiche Stakes at the Meadowlands. 

Returning to Florida for the winter, With Anticipation started off his fifth year with a couple good showings at the allowance level before placing third in the G1 Gulfstream Park Handicap and second in the G3 Widener. Traveling back to Sheppard’s mid-atlantic home base for the summer, the gelding picked up an optional claiming success before finally securing his first stakes victory in the Charles Staats Stakes. He checked in second in the DTHA Owner’s Day Handicap before another failed attempt at the graded level, and then closed out the year with an easy 6 ¾ length romp in the Creme Fraiche Stakes.

As a six-year-old in 2001, With Anticipation checked in with two poor showings at the stakes level before Jonathan Sheppard decided it was time for a change. Shipping north to Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, With Anticipation entered a one mile turf allowance for his first ever start on the grass, and in the 1:34.61 seconds it took the gelding to steamroll to an 8 ¾ length victory over the green, his racing career was reborn.

With the newfound knowledge of With Anticipation’s love for the grass, Sheppard immediately stepped the gelding up to stakes company, and he romped to a wire-to-wire, six length victory in the Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs. Heading back east, With Anticipation tried the Grade 1 level again in the United Nations Handicap. 

Dueling throughout the 1 ⅜ mile affair with North East Bound, the gelding finally shook off his rival turning for home before he was confronted with a challenge from Senure. Drifting late and bumping with his rival, With Anticipation had just enough left in the tank to hold on by a head. It didn’t take long for the inquiry sign to light up the board, and Strawbridge’s gelding was eventually disqualified to second for interference in the stretch. With Anticipation would have to wait another day for his Grade 1 victory, but he wouldn’t have to wait very long.

Returning to New York, With Anticipation next tackled the G1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga. Let go at 6-1, the gelding went straight to the front and was pressured through a decent clip by Slew Valley. His rival remained glued to him until the top of the stretch, and With Anticipation finally began to pull away. Betting favorite King Cugat was uncorking a rally from last place and was only three lengths behind at the top of the stretch, but the gray gelding had enough left to hold off his fast-charging rival to win by ¾ length.

With Belmont’s G1 Man o’ War next on the agenda, With Anticipation was installed the second choice behind German raider Silvano, who had won the G1 Arlington Million in his first North American start. With Anticipation broke on top and went to set the pace as expected while the British mare Ela Athena and Fusaichi Zenon kept him company in the early going. Despite the pressure, With Anticipation was able to set a measured pace, and he shook off his foes to open up a two length advantage by the top of the stretch. Silvano tried to make up ground on the frontrunner in the closing stages, but it was too late. With Anticipation was long gone, and he secured his second Grade 1 by 2 ¼ lengths.

With the Breeders’ Cup the obvious next choice, With Anticipation attempted a crack at the Turf, but did not bring his A-game and eventually faded to seventh as the 3-1 second betting choice in the field of eleven. In an ambitious move, Strawbridge and Sheppard elected to send their gelding to Japan for the Japan Cup, but he showed little and finished off the board for the final start of his rejuvenated six-year-old year.

Given a deserved rest before embarking on his seven-year-old season in 2002, With Anticipation finished in second in allowance company before returning to the stakes level. He finished second beaten 1 ¼ lengths in the G1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at a distance far below his prime before checking in a troubled fourth in the G1 Manhattan. Looking to get things back on track, With Anticipation returned to Monmouth Park to make amends with his tough luck in the previous year’s United Nations Handicap.

Settling off the early pace of betting favorite Suances, With Anticipation tracked his rival before making his move entering the final turn. Denon and Sarafan launched their bids around the same moment, and soon enough the four of them were stacked across the track approaching the top of the stretch. With Suances giving way, With Anticipation assumed a slight advantage over both Denon and Sarafan down the lane, and the three of them dueled to the wire in close quarters. With Anticipation, determined, refused to give into his foes and crossed the wire a neck in front of Denon with Sarafan another half length back in third. And this time, the gray gelding got to keep the victory.

Plotting a similar course to the previous year, With Anticipation returned to Saratoga in hopes of becoming only the third horse to win back-to-back editions of the Sword Dancer. Despite beating him at Monmouth, Denon was made a slight favorite over With Anticipation. When the gates sprung, the gelding was kept back a bit further off the pace than usual, settling into fourth in the early going while closely tracking Denon. 

With Denon sticking to the rail, With Anticipation lost ground to his rival around the turns, but jockey Pat Day made sure he remained glued to Denon’s flank. Rounding the turn, Denon kept to the rail and it paid off handsomely as the pacesetters drifted out approaching the top of the stretch. Shooting through the opening and spurting to the lead, Denon looked well on his way to victory as With Anticipation remained buried behind horses in fifth approaching the final furlong. But, miraculously, With Anticipation seemingly found another gear, bursting through horses and charging after his rival with a full head of steam. It still appeared to be fruitless with the wire fast approaching, but somehow, someway, With Anticipation managed to draw even with Denon as the wire passed overhead. The gray gelding had won by a desperate head. The victory established Pat Day as the highest earning jockey of all time.

Finally catching a break from Denon in the Man o’ War Stakes, With Anticipation settled behind the pace-setting Balto Star before catching his rival in the stretch to win by a comfortable length, securing his second consecutive Man o’ War and fifth overall Grade 1 victory.

In his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, With Anticipation turned in a dull showing in the G1 Turf Classic Invitational, checking in sixth while Denon charged to victory. Regardless, he continued on for another try at the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the old gelding headed west to Arlington Park for the world championships.

With European invaders High Chaparral and Golan getting much of the wagering play, Denon was a far away third choice at 7-1 while With Anticipation settled at 8-1. With a well-matched field of eight assembling for that year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, With Anticipation’s camp decided a change of tactics would be worth a shot. Dropping back to last early on, With Anticipation would uncork a run that carried him within contention by the top of the stretch, but High Chaparral unleashed a lethal turn of foot to burst away from the rest of the field and secure victory. With Anticipation checked in second, only 1 ¼ lengths behind.

By the time With Anticipation turned eight in 2003, his best days were behind him. He made three starts, all at the G1 level, but offered little and finished off the board in each attempt. He returned for one final start as a nine-year-old on February 5, 2004, checking in third in a Gulfstream Park allowance race, before George Strawbridge decided to officially retire his old gelding.

From eight years on the racetrack, With Anticipation entered the starting gate forty-eight times, winning fifteen races with nine seconds and eight thirds for career earnings of $2,660,543. Finally finding his home on grass in 2001, the gelding won seven of nineteen races on turf. He won eight stakes races and placed in nine others. He secured five Grade 1 victories at the ages of six and seven, including repeat wins in the Sword Dancer and Man o’ War.

The New York Racing Association created the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga in 2005. It’s still contested as a Grade 3 event for two-year-olds on the grass every summer. With Anticipation spent his retirement at George Strawbridge’s farm in Pennsylvania before peacefully passing away at the age of twenty-three in July 2018.

Hard Spun: The Front Running Phenom

Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable is forever etched into Pennsylvania breeding lore as the breeder of a record five Pennsylvania-bred millionaires. The very best of those five millionaires was fittingly sired by the breeding-shaping, Pennsylvania-bred stallion Danzig.

Betty’s son, Michael, began breeding, racing, and training racehorses of his own in the 1980s with moderate levels of success. In 1992, he purchased a Turkoman filly at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $39,000. Named Turkish Tryst, Moran campaigned the filly to four victories in fifteen races. Thriving in long-winded grass races, Turkish Tryst picked up a stakes victory in the 1 ½ mile April Run Stakes and placed third in the G2 Matchmaker. 

Turkish Tryst retired for broodmare duty at Brushwood Farm and produced a couple black-type foals for the Morans before they decided to send her to Danzig for her fifth foal. On May 10, 2004, Turkish Tryst delivered a bay colt bred in the name of Michael Moran and Brushwood Stable.

Spending his first year at Brushwood before heading to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Turkish Tryst’s colt was bid up to $485,000 but did not meet reserve. Upon his failure to sell, Delaware automobile dealer Rick Porter reached out to privately purchase the colt, and he was off to join Porter’s Fox Hill Farms under the tutelage of trainer Larry Jones.

Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms had been on the rise as a racing operation since he began owning racehorses in 1994. With most of his racing stock based in his home state of Pennsylvania, the colt, eventually named Hard Spun, made his new home at Delaware Park.

Hard Spun was ready for his first race by the fall of his two-year-old season, and he debuted at Delaware Park on October 22, 2006. Heading straight to the lead, Hard Spun never looked back and cruised to an 8 ¾ length victory. Stepping straight into stakes company, the colt took on the Port Penn Stakes as the heavy favorite. Dueling through quick early fractions, Hard Spun still managed to shake away from his rivals turning for home to draw away to a five length score. In his final start as a two-year-old, Hard Spun shipped to Philadelphia Park for the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes. It was much of the same as the colt romped to a 7 ¾ length win.

With the Kentucky Derby in mind, Hard Spun traveled south over the winter and began his march on the Derby Trail in the G3 LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds. He picked up right where he had left off, going straight to the front and never looking back for a 6 ½ length victory.

Now riding a four-race unbeaten streak, Hard Spun took his show on the road to Oaklawn Park for the Southwest Stakes. Having been a frontrunner up to that point, an attempt at a change in tactics was tried in the Southwest. Taken in hand early, Hard Spun settled into fifth place in the early going. After moving up to get within a length of the lead around the turn, he ended up flattening out and had to settle for fourth place, beaten three lengths.

With his first career defeat in the rearview mirror, Larry Jones brought Hard Spun to Kentucky for one final shot at making the Derby. The Grade 2 Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park, made of an all weather synthetic surface instead of dirt, would be his final prep race, and the colt faced off against eleven other rivals. While again not going to the lead, Hard Spun was allowed to settle closer to the pace this time around while pressing the leaders in third. Grabbing the lead around the turn, the colt looked much of old while pulling away to a comfortable 3 ¼ length score. The Kentucky Derby was on.

The 2007 Kentucky Derby featured one of the most wide open fields in recent memory. Eight horses from the field of twenty would end up going to the post with odds below 15-1. Among the favorites were champion two-year-old and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense, who was entering off a loss to longshot Dominican in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. The talk of the town was Curlin, a Steve Asmussen-trainee who had only debuted for the first time three months prior and had done nothing wrong in his three starts up to that point, with a 10 ½ length victory in the Arkansas Derby his most recent showing. The Todd Pletcher-trained Scat Daddy had reeled off impressive victories in the G2 Fountain of Youth and G1 Florida Derby prior to arriving in Kentucky. Hard Spun would end up the fourth betting choice at 10-1.

Drawing post eight, Hard Spun was in the perfect position to control things on his own after breaking cleanly, and regular rider Mario Pino allowed him to take control of the pace. Pressured early by longshots Stormello, Cowtown Cat, and Teuflesberg, the opening quarter was set down in a blazing 22.96 seconds. Shaking away from his rivals entering the second quarter, Hard Spun was able to open up a couple lengths on the field moving down the backstretch. While the pace had slowed a bit, the colt still posted swift fractions of 46.26 and 1:11.13 before rounding the final turn. 

Widening his lead to three lengths approaching the final quarter mile, Hard Spun almost looked as if he had possibly stolen the Kentucky Derby when Street Sense began to unleash a massive run from nineteenth place. Getting a miracle rail run, Street Sense flashed by horses before switching to the outside as the field banked into the stretch. With dead aim on Hard Spun, the two of them began to draw away from the rest of the field. But Street Sense’s turn of foot was too much for a tiring Hard Spun, who gave into his rival as he pulled away to a 2 ¼ length score. Hard Spun kept on in second place with a near six length gap back to Curlin in third.

Uniquely, the top three from the Kentucky Derby all converged on Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes two weeks later. Hard Spun was the 4-1 third choice behind Street Sense and Curlin. Initially sitting off the pace in third, Hard Spun rushed up to open a two length lead entering the final turn. But when Street Sense and Curlin came running, Hard Spun had little to offer, and his two foes went on to battle down the stretch with Curlin ultimately getting the advantage by a head. Hard Spun kept on bravely to maintain third, beaten four lengths.

While he did attempt the final leg of the Triple Crown, Hard Spun had to settle for fourth in the Belmont Stakes after a wide trip left him without much in the tank. The filly Rags to Riches made history when getting her head down in front of Curlin at the wire. Hard Spun was eleven lengths behind the leading pair.

Regrouping following the Triple Crown, Hard Spun reemerged two months later with hopes of securing his first Grade 1 victory. Attempting the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, Hard Spun was the third choice behind what was an expected battle between Curlin and up-and-coming Dwyer Stakes winner Any Given Saturday. It ended up just being the Any Given Saturday show as the colt rolled to a 4 ½ length victory over his chief rivals. Hard Spun and Curlin put on a battle of their own in second place, with Hard Spun getting the advantage by a head.

Instead of taking the traditional route in the Travers Stakes, trainer Larry Jones opted to try Hard Spun in the seven furlong G1 King’s Bishop on the undercard. Pushing longshot Spin Master through wicked fractions of 21.94 and 44.20, Hard Spun took command around the turn before being confronted by First Defence. First Defence actually put his neck in front of Hard Spun at the top of the stretch, but the colt battled on gamely to regain the lead and pull away to a 1 ½ length score for his first Grade 1 victory.

Aiming for one final prep race before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Hard Spun returned to Turfway Park for the G2 Kentucky Cup Classic. Surprisingly enough, the Kentucky Cup Classic was also on the agenda for Street Sense, who was fresh off a victory in the Travers. With the Kentucky Derby top two squaring off again, only three other horses were willing to enter the Kentucky Cup Classic, and one ended up scratching before post time. 

With a field of four contesting the Grade 2 event, Street Sense was installed a slight 4-5 favorite over 9-10 Hard Spun. With little competition, Hard Spun was able to go out to the lead and set the uncontested pace he wanted, and it ended up making the difference. Street Sense attempted to make a run around the final turn, getting as close a half length off of Hard Spun’s lead, but Hard Spun had too much left in the tank, and he turned on the afterburners to pull away to a 1 ¼ length score.

The 2007 Breeders’ Cup was hosted at Monmouth Park, and mother nature unfortunately did not seem to care. It poured monsoon level rains on Monmouth Park throughout the entire day, and the track was as sloppy as could be. In addition to Hard Spun, the Breeders’ Cup Classic featured Street Sense and Curlin, who was entering off a victory in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Gold Cup runner-up Lawyer Ron was considered the best of the older horses, and Any Given Saturday was still well respected coming off a win in the G2 Brooklyn Handicap.

Through dark skies and rain-drenched mud, Hard Spun set a quick pace in the October 27 Breeders’ Cup Classic in a trip reminiscent to his Kentucky Derby. He had a two length lead banking into the final turn when Curlin began to make his move from mid-pack. With much of his other competition floundering over the sloppy surface, Curlin presented the only threat to Hard Spun turning for home. Beginning to tire, Hard Spun didn’t have much left to offer his rival down the stretch run, and Curlin blew past while clearly no worse for wear over the off going. Curlin romped his way to a 4 ½ length victory that would earn him both champion three-year-old and Horse of the Year as Hard Spun was much the best in second, with nearly five lengths back to longshot Awesome Gem in third. Street Sense struggled over the going and settled for fourth.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic would end up being Hard Spun’s final race as he was relegated to stallion duties at Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley the following year. From his two seasons on the racetrack, Hard Spun raced thirteen times with seven wins, three seconds, and one third for earnings of $2,673,470. He only finished worse than second on three occasions and never finished worse than fourth. Arguably some of his best performances came in defeat among one of the deepest three-year-old crops of the century. He notched six stakes races with four coming at the graded level, and he secured Grade 1 glory in the King’s Bishop Stakes.

Retiring alongside rival Street Sense at Darley, both Hard Spun and his foe have made quite the mark so far at stud. Frequently among the leading money-earning stallions each year, Hard Spun currently sits eleventh on the North American general sires list. To date he has sired sixty-one stakes winners, including thirty at the graded level. He has thirteen individual Grade 1 winners and six millionaires. His daughter Questing was named champion three-year-old filly in 2012, and some of his other leading runners include three-time Australian G1 winner Le Romain and Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong.

Now sixteen-years-old and having never left Darley, Hard Spun is set to enter his fourteenth season at stud in 2021 for an advertised fee of $35,000.

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