Curlin son beats the elites in tony New York

Curlin son Southern Charm was plucked away from a path to racing as a Yearling. Now he's winning blue ribbons against Warmbloods in New York. Pictured with his owner Courtney Safadi.

Curlin son Southern Charm was plucked away from a path to racing as a Yearling. Now he’s winning blue ribbons against Warmbloods in New York. Pictured with his owner Courtney Safadi.

A son of Hall of Fame champion Curlin, whose racing future once appeared as bright as his own coppery coat, has found the limelight far from the racetrack, in a rarefied riding club in Westchester County, New York.

Four-year-old gelding Southern Charm, who was plucked from a Yearling sale meant to launch his race career, but was instead rushed into surgery to repair a facial tear, now finds himself the “face” of the Thoroughbreds among the Warmblood set.

Southern Charm
Barn name: Curly
Sire: Curlin
Dam: Renowned Cat, by Storm Cat
Foal date: April 23, 2011
And he is impressing everyone, from decorated horse show veteran and coach Jim Toon, who once remarked, “I wish I had 10 of him,” to one Warmblood owner who decided to look for her own Thoroughbred. But most of all, Southern Charm has won the heart of his owner/rider Courtney Safadi, a dyed-in the-wool Warmblood owner who is now “completely sold” on the Thoroughbred sport horse.

“I was competitive in the late 1990s on Warmbloods and when I decided to get back into riding … I figured I’d get a safe, bombproof horse like the Warmblood I used to have, she says. “But then this Thoroughbred popped up … and at first, I can’t tell you the kind of crap I got from people for getting a Thoroughbred. Then I started winning on him.”

But beyond the ribbons, is the sheer fun of the journey.

Instead of entering a show ring on a horse who will just pack her around, collecting her ribbons and growing bored, the sheer fun of riding a 4-year-old Thoroughbred has been unparalleled.

Courtney always figured she'd buy another Warmblood until she met the coppery Curlin son, Southern Charm.

Courtney always figured she’d buy another Warmblood until she met the coppery Curlin son, Southern Charm.

“Instead of going to the show, getting ribbons and going home, I find myself actually trying to keep up with him! He’s already learned his lead changes and I’m still trying to learn the aids to ask,” she says. There are times, she adds, when she’s certain her charming Kentucky bred is saying to her, “Don’t worry. I got it.”

She adds, “People see me making mistakes on him, and he’s great about it. I took him to a show after I’d been sick with a stomach bug and didn’t ride that well, and we still got a 4th!”

Thoroughbred ownership never got onto her radar until, by chance, the Curlin son crossed her path. A friend was leasing the 16-hand chestnut for the summer and happened to show off the animal to Safadi’s coach. Jim Toon, owner of JT Farm of South Salem, N.Y., was in Kentucky judging the Pony Finals, when he agreed to check out the horse for her.

“I was expecting him to tell me that a young project was not the right route for an out-of-practice adult rider, but he saw what I saw: a super sweet, very fancy horse that likes to jump,” she says. “So we brought him home. In hindsight, he was the perfect match for me.”

Training a green horse made her a better rider, improving her basic foundation, and rekindling her joy of riding.

And though Southern Charm never made it to the starting gate—he tore his nostril as a Yearling and required reconstructive surgery—he has become the ideal sport horse in suburbs of Manhattan. Riding in the modified adult hunter/jumpers, he is already winning blue ribbons in classes 20-horses deep.

“I tell everyone to get a Thoroughbred,” she says. “I feel like the stars aligned for me to get this horse. And when people meet him and realize he’s only 4, and he’s trotting around an adult rider, they fall in love with him. It’s like he has his own fan club.”

7 responses to “Curlin son beats the elites in tony New York”

  1. Courtney Safadi

    Many have asked who is the encouraging voice in the video. Thats Skylar Charry, assistant coach at JT Farm. She’s been an intrical part of Curlys training over the winter.

  2. lexi63

    want to WIN , get a THOROUGHBRED . and don’t spend over $1000 for one, not necessary – they are a dime a dozen , find your next champion at your local kill pen or auction. one thoroughbred goes just like another , they are THE BEST.

  3. Tammy Keyes

    Love this story! Curlin was such an awesome racehorse. Intelligent, classy & full of heart & tough as nails.
    Hoping for continued success in the future!

  4. Mary Richter

    Curlin passes soundness, brains and guts as well as racehorse speed. Go Curlin !!!!!

  5. Dory Munder

    Another great TB athlete with TB brains and TB heart! Courtney, sounds as if you have “felt the joy” that TBs give us! Best of everything to you and Curly!

  6. Serena Walker

    Wow Curlin! What a great TB story.
    Curlin certainly passed on his talent and class to his son “Curly” – and he’s as handsome as his father too. Looking forward to following a Curlin baby’s career as a show horse.
    The best of luck to Courtney and “Southern Charm”!

  7. Serena C

    Wow! What a great story. Will be exciting to follow ‘Curly’ or (Southern Charm) as he begins his show career. Curlin’s class and talent will certainly continue through his son.
    Good luck to Courtney and her adorable
    4yr old ‘Curly’!

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