When majority owner Jess Jackson released a statement earlier this week announcing Curlin would be retired after this year, he also left the door open that the reigning Horse of the Year would make one final start before his racing career comes to an end.
On Nov. 18, trainer Steve Asmussen ruled out the possibility that Curlin would make that final appearance in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.
“It’s not happening,” Asmussen said. “With the pot dropping (from $500,000 to $400,000) and the weather being bad, it’s not going to happen. The track was closed today too, so it’s just not working out.”
Curlin, who earlier this season became the richest North American racehorse when he went over the $10 million earnings mark, will begin his stud career in 2009 at an undetermined Kentucky farm. Many fans are still holding out hope that the son of Smart Strike will see the racetrack one last time, but Asmussen said, “the opportunities are not falling into place right now.”
Although the Clark has the highest remaining purse of any graded race for older horses in North America this season, there is always the possibility that a stakes event with a large purse could be created for Curlin, perhaps at a warm weather racetrack like Fair Grounds. That would be seem to be the final opportunity for the chestnut colt to race.
If Curlin does not race again, he will retire with a record of 11-2-2 from 16 starts and earnings of $10,501,800. Seven of his 11 victories have come in grade or group I company. In Curlin’s most recent race, he finished fourth to Raven’s Pass in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Oct. 25.