A Tribute to Diversy Harbor

A Tribute to Diversy Harbor

I’m not sure why I loved Diversy Harbor as much as I did. Perhaps it was because she was a daughter of Curlin, one of my all-time favorite racehorses. Perhaps it was because she liked to drop off the early pace in her races and come flying with a late rally in the homestretch, which made her races very exciting. Perhaps it was because she always tried her best, even when a given race didn’t suit her running style and she finished off the board.

Maybe it was a combination of all these reasons, or maybe there was no particular reason at all. But whatever the reason, the result was the same–I was a huge fan of Diversy Harbor, who passed away on May 19th as a result of injuries she suffered in the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. II) on April 18th.

Diversy Harbor showed promise from the very beginning of her racing career. On January 26th, 2014, she made her first start, impressively winning a maiden special weight on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita. She followed that up with a victory in the China Doll Stakes on March 8th, a day I remember fondly as the day that Game On Dude (another favorite of mine) won the last of his three Santa Anita Handicaps.

From then on, Diversy Harbor never ran in anything but graded stakes races, where she found the going a bit tougher. As a stretch-runner, she frequently found herself at disadvantage trying to rally into slow pace fractions, but you could usually expect to see her right in the mix at the finish. Diversy Harbor lost her next seven starts from April through December 2014, but finished second on four occasions, including a narrow defeat in the Robert J. Frankel Stakes (gr. III) in her final start of the season.

It was frustrating to see her try so hard and fail to win any races, but her consistency was finally rewarded in her first start of 2015, when Diversy Harbor rallied to win the Buena Vista Stakes (gr. II) on February 16th at Santa Anita. At long last, the tide seemed to be turning, and Diversy Harbor appeared to be sitting on the verge of a very successful season.

But it was not to be. In the penultimate start of her career, Diversy Harbor was compromised once again by a slow pace, and could only finish sixth in the March 15th Santa Ana Stakes (gr. II). And on April 18th, she headed to the starting gate for what should have been a routine run in the Santa Barbara Handicap, a race in which she was favored to win.

April 18th was not among the better days in recent racing history. The day got off on the wrong foot when Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) runner-up One Lucky Dane suffered a minor injury in a workout, and it got worse when champion Shared Belief was pulled up in the Charles Town Classic (gr. II) and was later found to have suffered a hip fracture.

At the time, I was more than slightly distracted by Shared Belief’s injury, and I neglected to watch the simulcast of the Santa Barbara Handicap. In retrospect, I’m glad I missed it. When the news came that Diversy Harbor had been pulled up on the final turn–apparently with a serious injury–I couldn’t bring myself to watch the replay.

In the aftermath of the race, Diversy Harbor was diagnosed with a pair of fractured sesamoid bones in her ankle, a serious injury from which it would be difficult to recover. Two days later, surgery was performed, and I closely followed her progress on Twitter. At first, the news seemed positive–her surgery had gone well, she was in good spirits, and there seemed to be a good chance that she would survive and become a broodmare.

But then Diversy Harbor took a turn for the worse, and there was nothing more that could be done.

For many, Diversy Harbor was just a reasonably good graded stakes winner that ran some nice races and suffered an unfortunate breakdown. Her final race was overshadowed by the injury of Shared Belief; her passing was overshadowed in the aftermath of the prestigious Preakness Stakes. Before long, the name Diversy Harbor will likely fade into the mists of time, and few will remember her thrilling late runs, consistency, and determination.

But in the minds of a few, Diversy Harbor will live on forever; remembered as she was at her peak, charging down the Santa Anita homestretch time and time again; sometimes winning, sometimes losing, always giving her best.

I will never forget Diversy Harbor.

Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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What a wonderful tribute. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories.