It was a mellow Sunday morning at trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn at Saratoga Race Course following champion Curlin’s 1 1/4-length victory over Past the Point in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) on Aug. 31.
Barbara Banke, wife of majority owner Jess Jackson, son Chris Jackson, and winning rider Robby Albarado all paid visits to the reigning Horse of the Year, who came back from the nine-furlong race “very well,” according to Asmussen.
“He seemed very comfortable this morning, ate up, did all the things you want to see happen,” said Asmussen, who said he and his wife, Julie, celebrated by eating leftovers and watching “Jaws 2” with sons Keith, Darren and Eric.
Asmussen said that there would be no discussion of Curlin’s next start until after he breezes at Saratoga Sept 8. The $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Sept. 27 is one of the targets mentioned by Jackson after the Woodward win. Curlin won the Jockey Club Gold Cup last year as part of his Horse of the Year campaign. Curlin will remain in Saratoga for the time being, the trainer said.
“He’ll train back here right now,” said Asmussen. “I spoke with Mr. Jackson, and we really like the circumstances for him right now. We talked last night. We’re very pleased with how he cooled out. We’ll let him go back to the track in a couple of days, kind of enjoy what happened yesterday and admire him for a little bit and then try to make a decision on where he’s at and what’s best for him.”
From the time Jackson announced the son of Smart Strike would be running in the Woodward until race time, said Asmussen, the support given Curlin has been “unbelievable.”
“It felt like it built up, every time we went anywhere, someone would say how they couldn’t wait for the race to happen or thanked Mr. Jackson for running him here,” he said. “Curlin has made everyone who supports him very proud. He puts forth a lot of effort and represents himself very well. The horses that have won the Woodward, what great company.”
Forego won the Woodward four times (1974-77) and Kelso (1961-63) was a three-time winner. Others that have won the Woodward include Sword Dancer, Roman Brother, Damascus, Buckpasser, Key to the Mint, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Slew o’Gold, Alysheba, Easy Goer, Cigar, Lemon Drop Kid, Lido Palace, Mineshaft and Ghostzapper.