(edited press release)
Steve Asmussen trainee Curlin, who finished third in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), tuned up for the May 19 running of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with an easy half-mile work May 14 at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Stonecrest Farm, Padua Stable, George Bolton and Midnight Cry Stable, the chestnut son of Smart Strike covered the distance in :51 over a fast track. Exercise rider Carmen Rosas was in the saddle for the work, which ranked 51st among 54 at the distance. Trainer Steve Asmussen said he was not looking for speed in the move.
“He looked nice, smooth and relaxed,” said Asmussen. “He's still Curlin - a great big, old horse that covers a lot of ground. He galloped out real loose and seemed to come back very easy.”
Asmussen's trainee covered the distance in fractions of :13.20, :26.20 and :38.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:05.
Curlin is scheduled to ship to Baltimore on Wednesday to run in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness at Pimlico Race Course. He will enter that race off of his lone defeat in four starts, but Asmussen said the colt has done well in the days since the Kentucky Derby.
“He came out of the race really well,” he said. “You want another shot at it and you’re extremely optimistic, and he gave us no signs that he wouldn't have come out of it well. I was curious to see, with him never being beat before, how he would go back to the track. But he was very patient, and that was the one thing I was really wanting to see - that he didn't tighten up or get nervous, or be somebody that he hasn't always been.”
Asmussen said he is focused on the Preakness with Curlin and his attention would remain on winning that classic race rather than getting another shot at the victorious Street Sense and Hard Spun, the horses that finished in front of him in the 20-horse field on Derby Day.
“We're trying to win the Preakness - we're not taking a shot at anybody,” said Asmussen. “He finished third in the Kentucky Derby in his fourth race. I expected him to win, but give credit to horses that beat him. He beat 17 of the best 3-year-olds at one time in his fourth race, and now we've got to figure out how to beat the other two.”
Curlin will travel to Baltimore on the first of two equine flights scheduled to depart from Louisville on Wednesday.
Asmussen also sent Winchell Thoroughbreds' Zanjero, 12th in the Kentucky Derby, for a half-mile breeze in :52.40.
Meanwhile, James Tafel's homebred Street Sense, winner of the Kentucky Derby, galloped 1 ½-miles under exercise rider Mark Cutler. The Carl Nafzger-trained son of Street Cry is scheduled to breeze May 15, and will travel to Pimlico on Wednesday on the second of two flights bound from Louisville to Baltimore.
Also scheduled for a May 15 work is Ellwood Johnston's Flying First Class, the only other Preakness hopeful in training at Churchill Downs. Flying First Class won the Derby Trial on April 28 for five-time Preakness-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The California-bred son of Perfect Mandate is expected to work shortly after the track opens at 6 a.m.