BC Classic Update

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 7, 2008 in Breeders Cup, News | No Comments >>

CURLIN worked for the first time over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface Monday morning. The reigning Horse of the Year covered a half-mile in a leisurely :52.80, in preparation for a possible showdown with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, BIG BROWN, in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Oct. 25.

It was Curlin’s first work since winning the grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup, a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, at Belmont Park on Sept. 27. He won the Gold Cup last year.

Curlin’s trainer, Steve Asmussen, who was at Santa to witness the work, said he was in no hurry to decide if Curlin would run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He will work the 4-year-old son of Smart Strike next week in company, according to The Blood-Horse. Asmussen wishes to make sure that Curlin handles the Pro-Ride surface, and will discuss his observations with the colt’s majority owner, Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable. Should he run in the Classic, it would be the colt’s first race on a synthetic surface.

“He looked around quite a bit,” said Asmussen. “It’ll be interesting the next time he gets on the track. We just wanted to put his mind at ease and let him do all the acclimating.”

Curlin, who was shipped to Santa Anita on Sept. 28, is being considered for a defense of his title in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita; the finale of the two-day, $25.5 million Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

“I don’t think there was any decision to be made today,” said Asmussen. “We’re going to show Curlin the patience he deserves and we’re going to do what we think is right.”

This year marks the fourth time the Breeders’ Cup World Championships have been hosted by the Oak Tree Racing Association, and it will be the first time they will be run on a synthetic surface.

It would also be Curlin’s first race-day experience on a synthetic track.

Curlin looked tremendous last year when winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park in the slop. He was only defeated once this year, in the Grade-1 Man O’ War, when he finished second in his turf debut to Red Rocks (the winner of the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Turf). In March, Curlin wowed the world with a facile win in the Dubai World Cup.

Curlin shipped to Santa Anita the morning following his victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. In that race, Curlin become the richest North American-based Thoroughbred in history. His earnings stand at $10,246,800.

The Asmussen-trained STUDENT COUNCIL worked for the Classic on Monday at Santa Anita. He was clocked in 1:15.60 for six furlongs.

BIG BROWN, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., will continue to train at his Aqueduct home base until the week of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His last work was Sept. 30. The 3-year-old was expected to breeze again early this week. His last work was on the dirt, but Dutrow said he would prefer to prepare the colt on the turf in his next few breezes for the Classic. Prior to last week’s five-furlong work in 1:04.21, Big Brown had worked several times on the turf in preparation for his win in the Monmouth Stakes on the grass on Sept. 13.

Japanese invader CASINO DRIVE is in California to run in the Classic. The colt is training at Hollywood Park, and might not have a prep race for the Classic, according to Nobutaka Tada, the racing manager for Casino Drive’s connections.

Casino Drive, the winner of the Peter Pan Stakes in May at Belmont Park, was scratched the morning of the Belmont Stakes with a foot bruise. The half-brother to Belmont Stakes winners, Jazil and Rags to Riches, has not raced since the Peter Pan. A few days after the Belmont Stakes, he was returned to Japan, and then was flown back to the United States recently for a run at the Classic.