Owner Jerry Crawford had this to say:
- People are going to insist that this is a synthetic horse because he has won three Grade Is on synthetic. But there’s no one else in the country that has won three Grade Is on any surface and placed in graded stakes on the turf and finished third in the Kentucky Derby. “I would respectfully submit that the question with Dullahan is not what surface can he run on, but what surface can’t he run on?
Today careers are abbreviated and a horse cannot complete a body of work. If a horse fails at 10f once, he may be labelled distance challenged, and will never try it again, because he's off to stud four months later. If he wins a poly race in a Beyer slower than what he wins on dirt he can be labelled "not good on the fake stuff". It even happens to the best of them. Curlin, who I think everyone agreed was tailing off, lost on turf and that experiment was labelled a flop. Maybe he had a bad day, or maybe he is not very good on turf. Who knows with a data point of "one".
This labelling based on limited starts can befall even great horses, and a lot of the times it would be completely false. What if Frankel pulled a muscle before his last and never put on the 10.5f show that he did last week? He'd be labelled as a "brilliant miler." Zenyatta was constantly labeled as a poly specialist who didn't like the dirt much, because she only carded a 94 Beyer in the Apple Blossom. Thank goodness they tried the Classic at Churchill where she ran a good number in a gallant loss, proving she could excel on either surface against the best around.
Dullahan is a little different because a trend has developed. He surely looks better on turf and poly, however, his Derby was fine, and his Juvenile was not bad either. At the Belmont he seemed to struggle badly around the 3/4 pole, looking totally off his game. The surface was blamed by some, but how does a horse work like a flash on that same surface a week earlier and not like it? He may have been up too close in the Haskell as well, and that might have compromised him. Regardless, he may have been simply not up to the task in those two instances.
Fortunately, Dullahan, will not retire after this season, so he will complete a body of work. We may see him try dirt in the BC Classic and I hope he does. If he fails again, then so be it. But, in my opinion, pigeon-holing talented horses like that without letting them try and build a body of work shows them disrespect.