With trainer Steve Asmussen looking on, Curlin worked over the Pro-Ride synthetic surface at Santa Anita early the morning of Oct. 6. Fresh off his victory in the Sept. 27 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park in New York, Curlin went an easy half-mile in :52.80.
“We just breezed him back in a maintenance move,” said Asmussen. “We’re going to show Curlin the patience that I think he deserves.”
Santa Anita clockers caught Curlin’s fractions as :13 4/5, :26 4/5, and :39 4/5. Several people came out to Santa Anita’s Clocker’s Corner at about 6:30 a.m. just to get a glimpse of the chestnut champion at work. The onlookers included Oak Tree Racing Association executive vice president Sherwood Chillingworth and Santa Anita president Ron Charles.
Asmussen said that he would be discussing “everything that Curlin is communicating to us” with majority owner Jess Jackson. The Curlin team is in no hurry to decide whether the colt will indeed run next in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) Oct. 25 at Oak Tree.
“He’s not going to be pressed for time,” Asmussen said. “We’re just going to do what we think is right for him.”
The trainer, who has made no secret of the fact that he prefers dirt over synthetic surfaces, said that he could not make any decision about Santa Anita’s new surface on the basis of just one work.
“We’re not telling Curlin that he’s going to like it,” Asmussen said with a smile. “We’re listening to him. I only care if Curlin likes it.”
About 45 minutes after Curlin worked, another Asmussen Breeders’ Cup candidate, 2007 Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Student Council , worked six furlongs in 1:15.60. Asmussen said he was pleased with the 6-year-old horse’s work.
“I thought it went really well,” the trainer said. “It was a nice move for him.”
Asmussen is eager to give Curlin and Student Council time to acclimate to both the Pro-Ride surface and the warmer weather. He said he recalled the extreme temperatures and air from nearby fires that occurred in 2003, when Oak Tree last hosted the Breeders’ Cup.
The trainer noted that Curlin’s coat looks good and that he didn’t “hair up” too much during his time in New York.
“He is a thorough professional, but he loves his routine,” Asmussen said. “He acts right as long as you do right by him.”
Asmussen said he plans to work Curlin in company in a week.
Another horse from the Asmussen barn, Kentucky Cup Classic winner Zanjero, will not be making the trip to Oak Tree for the Breeders’ Cup. Originally scheduled to arrive Sept. 29 following his victory at Turfway Park Sept. 27, Zanjero came out of the race with an injury to his right front. Asmussen termed it “pre-condylar” and said that it will not require surgery.
“He’ll just get some time,” Asmussen said.