Curlin Still in Top Form
On Saturday, Curlin once again proved that he deserves his Horse of the Year title. He has not raced on United States soil for a few months now, and after a successful international campaign everyone thought that Curlin might need good rest before taking on his first race on his return. But Curlin was not deterred by facing a full field of contenders at Churchill Downs. He dug deep, found his gap and steamed ahead to the finish line.
In his illustrious racing career, Curlin has never finished a race in less than third position, winning nine of his twelve career starts. His victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs has given him his fifth consecutive win this year and has pushed his earnings up to $9.4 million. He is also only the second horse, after Street Cry, to have won the Dubai World Cup followed by the Stephen Foster Handicap in one year.
When the starting gates opened on Saturday, Barcola took the lead and held onto the position for most of the way. Waiting patiently, jockey Robby Albarado chose the second turn to ask Curlin for his powerful home run, after which the magnificent horse started to open up a four length gap between him and the rest of the field to cross the finish line victorious, followed by Einstein and Barcola. Even though his trainer, Steve Asmussen, was up in arms with officials in regard to the handicap system that caused his horse to carry ten pounds more in weight than the other contenders, it seems to have worried Asmussen more than it did Curlin.
Curlin’s stablemate, Pyro, also found himself up against formidable competitors such as Recapturetheglory, Visionaire and My Pal Charlie in the Grade III Nothern Dancer Stakes. Pyro also managed to pull some magic out of the bag for his trainer, by having My Pal Charlie and Visionaire follow him home on his road to victory.
Even though no future racing events have been cast in stone for Curlin by Asmussen and principal owner Jess Jackson, it seems that Curlin might be heading for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which takes place in France in October. Warm up races and turf workouts will be on the cards if all goes according to plan. One of the races that might be considered for Curlin, if owner and trainer are not happy with his performance on the turf, is the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be quite an exhilarating race. Trainers for Big Brown have mentioned the Breeder’s Cup Classic as one of the two races they would like Big Brown to partake in before retiring to stud. Watching Curlin and Big Brown go head to head would be quite a showdown. But fans and spectators will just have to wait and see.