The Acid Test

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 10, 2008 in Breeders Cup, General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin will get serious at Santa Anita Park this Monday, when he works five furlongs over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic main track between races. The work, which will be performed in company with another Steve Asmussen trainee, has been scheduled between races four and five (approx. 2:45 p.m. PT).  It is expected that if all goes well with the work, he will be pre-entered on Tuesday for a defense of his $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic title and a showdown with Big Brown at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

“Our biggest concern with Curlin is the difference in the way the track plays between morning and afternoon,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi. “This is going to be a smooth 5/8 [of a mile] in company. We’ll come on the track up in the quarter-mile chute and just jog-off from there and break-off at the 5/8 pole. He’ll be working with another horse of ours named Hawaii Calls.”

Curlin arrived at Santa Anita the day after winning the Grade I, 1 ¼-miles Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 27, and he had his first workout since the race this past Monday, breezing a half mile in :52.80.

“His serious work here at Santa Anita will be on Monday,” said Blasi. “It’ll be a normal 5/8 work. We’re not looking for anything real fast, but it’ll be done the way we do things in company.”

Beyond Monday’s drill, Blasi said, “Everything else with his training will be routine. That’s what we’re looking for right now.”

Should Curlin start in the Classic on Oct. 25, a much-anticipated showdown for 2008 Horse of the Year honors would be finalized with this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown.

As was the case this past Monday, Asmussen is expected to fly in from his Texas base to oversee Curlin’s work. Among those scheduled to work Monday morning for Asmussen in addition to Curlin are 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Pyro and multiple Grade I winner Student Council.