Jess Jackson

Jess Jackson

Anne M. Eberhardt

Jackson: Meet Us in the Gold Cup Instead

Jess Jackson, majority owner of Curlin, responded to the connections of Big Brown Aug. 13 after they declined an invitation to race the reigning Horse of the Year in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I), challenging them instead to meet in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Belmont Park. Jackson also stated the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita “is not part of my current plan for Curlin.”  

Here is the full press release that Jackson issued late in the day Aug. 13:

“I am delighted that we are talking about Curlin on the day that Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian ever,” Jackson said. “Great athletes deserve great company. This is what sports is about -- the thrill of competition. And it is my belief that Thoroughbred racing is indeed the greatest sport of all time.

“I made a sportsman’s proposal to Big Brown’s connections this morning to race at Saratoga Race Course in the grade I Woodward on August 30, and they declined the invitation. I am disappointed by the news. I read this morning that Big Brown might be looking for a turf race at Belmont Park, so apparently, his connections are looking at other options this fall.

“I would ask Big Brown’s camp to consider the prestigious $750,000 Jockey Gold Cup Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park on September 27 as an option. It’s a prestigious, prized race on a natural dirt surface at one of the great tracks in the world. Big Brown is a champion Thoroughbred and, most certainly, would be prepared to race at the end of September. Perhaps we could work together to get the Breeder’s Cup to add an incentive to the purse so that a specific charity would get a bigger slice of the pie.

“This has long been a part of my platform for this industry - bigger purses.

“Another part of my personal platform is to make charitable contributions. When Barbara and I bought Curlin, we immediately established the Jackson Curlin for Kids Fund whose purpose is to make a difference in the lives of children where Curlin runs or trains. In February of this year, we donated $1 million to The Woods Laboratory for equine and human cancer and infertility research. Plus we give millions to more than 600 charities ever year because we believe it is the right thing to do.

“We also are aware of IEAH’s involvement with charitable causes, including the current construction of the Ruffian Equine Medical Center across from Belmont Park. We have two great horses and a common purpose. Why not get them together?

“As to the Breeders' Cup, it is not part of my current plan for Curlin. I felt it was the sporting thing to do to announce Curlin’s schedule to give fair notice to anyone looking to compete against the reigning horse of the year this fall.

“Our plan is to focus on the Woodward, look to the Jockey Gold Cup, hopefully with Big Brown in the field, and review our plans after that.

“Ultimately, all of us have to do what is in the best interest of our horse. I wish Big Brown well and hope Curlin has the opportunity to compete against him.  It certainly would help the industry and please the fans of both of these majestic horses.”