Smart Strike Does It Again With Curlin, English Channel

Smart Strike's stallion stock took another leap in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with wins by Curlin in the $5 million Classic -Powered by Dodge (gr. I) and English Channel in the $3 million John Deere Turf (gr. IT).

About two weeks after Smart Strikewas represented by an unprecedented three grade I winners on the Sept. 30 race card at Belmont Park, Lane’s End Farm announced the stallion’s stud fee was being doubled from $75,000 to $150,000 for 2008.

That figure looks like a bargain now after the 15-year-old stallion nearly duplicated his previous feat by having two winners on the Oct. 27 Breeders’ Cup World Championships card at Monmouth Park with Curlin in the $5 million Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) and English Channel in the $3 million John Deere Turf (gr. IT).

Both horses had figured prominently in Smart Strike’s Sept. 30 successes, with Curlin taking the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and English Channel the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT).

“We think he has been a top stallion for years, but it has taken him a little longer in getting into the top echelon,” said Lane’s End Farm’s Bill Farish right after the three grade I winners at Belmont Park. At the time, Farish noted that everyone at the farm was looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup.

Rightfully so, with Curlin’s Classic win clearly indicating that Smart Strike has indeed arrived at the upper echelon of North American sires in a short period.

When Curlin was conceived from the mating of Smart Strike with the Deputy Minister mare Sherriff’s Deputy in 2003, the stud fee was $20,000. Shannon White, who manages the Fares Farm of breeder Isaam M. Fares, said of the breeding decision, “We didn’t know if we were going to race the resulting foal or sell. Smart Strike at the time had a high percentage of stakes winners, and for a stud fee of $20,000 we thought that represented a great value.”

Fares, the former deputy prime minister of Lebanon, owns the 760-acre farm near Lexington that bears his name. He dispersed most of his horse interests in 1998 so he could devote more time to his official duties in Lebanon, but he retained the farm and some broodmares.

Among the horses raced by Fares have been champion Miss Alleged, the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner, and stakes winners Highest Honor, and Le l'Argent. Among the other top horses bred by Fares is Da Hoss, a two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner.

The dam of Curlin, Sheriff’s Deputy, was also bred by Fares and is out of the multiple graded stakes winning Bates Motel mare Barbarika.

With Eaton Sales as agent, Curlin was consigned by Fares to the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale, where he was purchased by trainer Ken McPeek for $57,000.