Easy Work for Curlin at Churchill; Asmussen 'Very Pleased'

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Fresh off his nose victory over Derby winner Street Sense in the Preakness (gr. I) on May 19, Curlin tuned up for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 9 with an easy five-furlong work on Monday at Churchill Downs.

The chestnut son of Smart Strike covered the distance over "fast" footing in 1:03 1/5 under regular exercise rider Carmen Rosas. Trainer Steve Asmussen looked on as Curlin worked at around 6:30 a.m. The 3-year-old colt covered the distance in fractional times of :13 3/5, :26 4/5, :38 3/5 and :51 1/5. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:16 3/5.

"I was very pleased with him," said Asmussen. "I just try to be pretty rhythmic with where we're at with him. I feel that the familiarity for him with what we're doing keeps his state of mind where we want it to be -- nice and relaxed. With everything that's been asked of him over a short period of time, I want to keep everything as close to normal as I possibly can."

The Preakness victory by Curlin for owners Stonestreet Stables, Padua Stable, George Bolton and Midnight Cry Stable was his fourth win in five races. His third-place finish to Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) is the only setback in his young career. Although the demanding 1 1/2-mile distance in the third jewel of racing's Triple Crown looms as a significant challenge, Asmussen does not anticipate changing anything in Curlin's routine to get him ready for that test.

"With what we've seen in the Derby and in the Preakness, I think we we're on target for this," said Amussen. "Him being comfortable, relaxed and traveling the way that he is is what we're concerning ourselves with right now, and I can't tell you how fortunate we feel. For everything that he's done over a short period of time and for him to be carrying the weight that he is, and acting the way that he is, is the testament to his quality."

Asmussen said that Curlin would breeze again next Monday and is scheduled to fly to New York on June 5.

Street Sense stepped onto the track about a half-hour after Curlin's work. James Tafel's homebred son of Street Cry jogged six furlongs and galloped one mile under regular exercise rider Mark Cutler.

Trainer Carl Nafzger said a final decision on a possible Belmont Stakes bid for America's reigning 2-year-old champion would be made by Wednesday.

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