Curlin, shown winning his most recent start, the Woodward (gr. I), continues to prep for his next scheduled start in the Sept. 27 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Curlin, shown winning his most recent start, the Woodward (gr. I), continues to prep for his next scheduled start in the Sept. 27 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Skip Dickstein

Curlin Turns in Work for JC Gold Cup

Curlin works five furlongs in 1:01.80 on Sept. 15

Defending Horse of the Year Curlin turned in an effortless five-furlong breeze the morning of Sept. 15 over the fast Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course, covering the distance in 1:01.80 under regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas.

Clockers caught Curlin, who worked in company inside stablemate Hawaii Calls, covering the first three furlongs in :37 4/5 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 4/5, according to a news release from the New York Racing Association. The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike, owned in majority by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables, will have one more move before he attempts to break Cigar’s all-time money-winning record and become racing’s first $10 million horse in the 90th running of the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park Sept. 27.

“Awesome,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi. “He’s had a race (a victory in the Aug. 30 grade I Woodward) and with four weeks in between races, we’re pretty much just trying to keep him happy.”

The move was the fifth fastest of 14 at the distance, with Hawaii Calls, under Shaun Bridgmohan, finishing a little more than a neck behind in 1:02.00.

"He went beautiful," said Rosas of Curlin." Nice and smooth, and he galloped out decent.”

Usually completed by 6 a.m., Curlin’s work was pushed back until after the first renovation break in order to allow NYRA maintenance crews to work on the track, which received a significant amount of rain Sept. 14.

"I told them what I wanted to do, and they made it happen," Blasi said of the NYRA maintenance staff, which was able to squeeze most of the moisture out and have the track harrowed by the time Curlin walked on at 7:46 a.m. "They get the star of the day."

Blasi said Curlin’s final work will take place Sept. 22, and that he will ship to Belmont Park the following day for his engagement in the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup, a victory in which would move him past Cigar as racing’s all-time money earner. Currently, Curlin has $9,796,800, and Cigar $9,999,815.

“That would be an outstanding achievement,” said Blasi. “Cigar was an unbelievable horse.”

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is one of five grade-I events at Belmont Park on Sept. 27, which also features the $600,000 Beldame for fillies and mares going nine furlongs, the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at 1 1/2-miles, the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational for fillies and mares going 1 1/4-miles on the turf, and the $400,000 Vosburgh at six furlongs.

Curlin won last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup at age 3 and went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic en route to year-end honors as top 3-year-old colt and Horse of the Year. His 2008 campaign highlights include grade-I victories in the Woodward, the Dubai World Cup, and Stephen Foster Handicap, and a solid second in the Man o’ War (gr. I) on the turf at Belmont Park to former Breeders’ Cup Turf champion Red Rocks.

Curlin topped the list of 14 horses invited to the Jockey Club Gold Cup, including 2002 winner Evening Attire, 2008 Whitney (gr. I) winner Commentator, 2008 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Da’ Tara, and 2008 Travers (gr. I) runner-up Mambo in Seattle. An alternate list will be sent out on Sept. 21.