When Jess Jackson announced Aug. 5 that Curlin’s next racing engagement would be in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 30, some believed it would be the perfect venue for the reigning Horse of the Year to meet dual classic winner Big Brown.
Those hopes can be put to rest. It’s not happening. Paul Pompa Jr. confirmed as much Aug. 6.
“The Woodward isn’t in our thinking right now," said Pompa, a 25% owner of Big Brown. "The timing isn’t right for the horse. Mike Iavarone (of co-owner IEAH Stables) and I discussed it, and we’re not going to Saratoga. There is no reason to rush him back. He’s coming off a tough race.”
Had Big Brown been sent to the Woodward, it would be 27 days since he captured the Aug. 3 Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. Big Brown was all out in the stretch to catch front-running Coal Play in the Haskell, but the son of Boundary eventually won by 1 3/4 lengths under heavy urging from Kent Desormeaux.
Pompa also indicated that Big Brown would likely not be pointed toward the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Belmont Park. Curlin could possibly show up for that event. Pompa confirmed what Iavarone said earlier--the connections would look toward the turf for Big Brown’s next race.
“The turf has been discussed,” Pompa said. “He has won four grade I races on the dirt, and has probably already solidified himself as the 3-year-old of the year. If he wins the (gr. I) Breeders’ Cup (Classic) later this year, it would give him a grade I on synthetic (surfaces). And, if we find a turf event where he can win a grade I, he’ll have won grade I races on three different surfaces.”
Pompa would not elaborate on which turf races are being considered. When asked about a possible meeting with Curlin, Pompa said: “We hope to see him at the Breeders’ Cup this fall. We’ll be there.”