Raven’s Pass takes Breeders’ Cup Classic
Majority owner, Jess Jackson, and trainer, Steve Asmussen, had not been eager to enter Curlin into the Breeders’ Cup Classic, purely based on the fact that the Breeders’ Cup was being run on an artificial surface, ProRide, for the first time. Curlin is known to be comfortable on dirt, and never runs on turf, as he is not comfortable on it. On Saturday, 25 October 2008, the surface got the better of Curlin, allowing Raven’s Pass to take the victory, and the beloved champion finishing out of the money for the first time in his horse racing career.
A record number of European competitors entered into the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year, as they are all spectacular turf horses and it is easier for turf horses to adjust to a synthetic surface that it is for them to adjust to running on dirt. As the Santa Anita Park Racecourse changed from dirt to the ProRide surface, the Breeders’ Cup Classic became very tempting and saw big names such as Henrythenavigator, Duke of Marmalade and Raven’s Pass entering this prestigious event.
Over fifty thousand spectators filled the grandstand on Saturday, supporting their favorite horses and enjoying the sunny day in California. As the twelve horse field walked out of the receiving barn towards the track, fans were screaming, applauding and taking photos, in anticipation of this massive event. Although Curlin gave it all he had, and at times it seemed that he might be able to rise to the occasion, it was to be a moment of victory for Ravens’ Pass and his jockey, Frankie Dettori. Raven’s Pass seemed to have an abundance of energy and strength as he thundered towards the finish line, followed by Henrythenavigator, Tiago, Curlin, Go Between, Colonel John, Smooth Air, Champs Elysees, Duke of Marmalade, Fairbanks, Student Council and Casino Drive.
Even though many were hoping that Curlin could overcome his discomfort of the synthetic surface, if the crowds’ response was anything to go by few would have believed that he was fourth. As Curlin was turned around after galloping out and returned to the finish line by jockey Robby Albarado, the crowd rose to the feet and applauded him. He might not have won the race, but he still remains the love of many horse racing enthusiasts. No plans were discussed in regard to future events for Curlin after the race. But the joy and elation from the Raven’s Pass camp was unmistakable and well deserved.