Saturday, September 27, 2008

Curlin's Final Prep?

Today all fans will be watching to see if Curlin can become America's first $10 million dollar horse. Unless he really regresses off of a Woodward performance that most feel was a regression it seems unlikely he'll be beaten. The field is mediocre to good, not great. Mambo in Seattle is the dark horse here. He is a 3 year-old on a rise that, in the eyes of many, has placed him near the top of his class. But, he's not a super horse, not yet anyway and the reigning champion should be able to dispose of a horse in this class. Wanderin Boy can be dangerous if he gets an uncontested lead. But Timber Reserve and Merchant Marine should be giving him a little company leaving Curlin in the garden spot - mid field, and saving ground - setting him up for a good finish on a track he enjoys. My entry yesterday revolved around Larry Jones, one of my favorite and most respected trainers but I think his charge, Stones River, is out of his league here. Of course the Jim Squires owned Stones River has already claimed some fame for himself as he was the first horse Jones had ever received an accusation of a medication overage on in his 25 year career; an accusation that had the smell of a rotten egg. I read that Asmussen was a bit concerned that Curlin's Woodward was a bit more taxing than he would have hoped for the champ. Perhaps that's something to be concerned about. And after considering that information my next statement may seem ridiculous. Far be it for me to question anything Asmussen does but every once in a while I would like to see him push a bit more in a work, especially considering the way Curlin finished up in the Woodward. I'd like to see something that gets a bit more to his bottom. Yet looking back he did that leading up to the Woodward when, on 8/18 he sent Curlin 7 in 1:24 &4/5! Maybe that took a little too much starch out of him. Every horse is different and he knows him best so that's that. But sometimes familiarity breeds boredom, probably even in horses.

But, if all goes well and Curlin does what Curlin does only Jess Jackson's okay to a Breeder's Cup Classic run stands between Curlin and Big Brown. I think he has to go. It's about racing and doing what's best for racing. That is what Jess Jackson gave as his reason for bringing Curlin back to run this season. So if he doesn't go I will be very disappointed for racing and in Jess Jackson. I have very little doubt that Jackson will do the right thing. The Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface looks very fair so far. I just can't see it being used as an excuse. Great horses do great things. I think Curlin is a 'Great' horse. I think he will win today and run and win at Santa Anita in the B.C. Classic and retire to that rarefied air where only a few horses can graze.

Big Brown's performance was scintillating. He beat some really good older horses with aplomb. One of those older horses, Proudinsky, is back today in The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (g.I). It will be interesting to see how he fares against Grand Couturier who ran in Curlin's Man O'War(g.I). Of course it's impossible to compare apples and oranges as both weather and race conditions make true comparison impossible but interesting nonetheless.

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