from Churchill Downs
Following Curlin's dominant win in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 14, trainer Steve Asmussen says he's planning to work the reigning Horse of the Year over the Churchill Downs grass course while considering a bid in France's Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), Europe’s greatest race for older horses.
Asmussen said that the possibility of racing in the Arc, which is contested at 1 1/2 miles on Oct. 5 at Longchamp, has been discussed with Jess Jackson, the owner of Stonestreet Stables who owns majority interest in Curlin. Jackson is partner in Curlin with Midnight Cry Stables.
“We’ve talked about it since last year, since the Classic and he put him back in training,” said Asmussen.
Asmussen said he would work Curlin on the turf and find a grass race for him in North America on the weekend of July 12-13. He did not say if he had a particular race in mind. He would prefer a race over an international style course, such as those at Arlington Park, Belmont Park or Woodbine. Major turf races for older horses scheduled that weekend include the $500,000 Man O’ War (gr. IT) at 1 3/8 miles at Belmont Park and the Arlington Handicap (gr. III) at 1 1/4 miles at Arlington Park.
Were the champion turned in a “Curlin-esque” performance in that race, he said the 4-year-old son of Strike Smart would ship to France to train at Chantilly. Curlin would probably have one race prior to the Arc in France, most likely a traditional Arc prep like Longchamp’s Prix Foy (Fr-II).
“If we don’t like how he works on the turf, then we’ll change plans and that will have to be discussed,” Asmussen said. “But right now we’re going to plan on working him on the turf, with the possibility of running him on the turf the weekend of the 12th.”
Asmussen said Curlin checked out well following his 4 1/4-length triumph in the $1-million Stephen Foster. With Robby Albarado aboard, Curlin, carrying 128 pounds, stalked the pace and won with a hand ride through the home stretch.
The victory improved Curlin’s record to 9-1-2 in 12 races and extended his winning streak to five races – a string that includes wins in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) and the $6-million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
The winner’s prize of $589,000 from the Foster mproved his career earnings to $9,396,800. The Kentucky-bred Curlin moved closer to second-place Skip Away on American racing’s all-time earnings list. Skip Away earned $9,616,360 in his career, while Cigar remains atop the career earnings list with $9,999,815.