Curlin, last year's Horse of the Year, must stand in a dark corner of his stall in Saratoga and wonder what tomorrow brings. You would like to think that a colt of Curlin's magnitude would be on Easy Street as he canters towards the "Golden Fleece" of thoroughbred racing—the all-time earnings record, currently in the possession of that old warrior, Cigar.
By year's end, Curlin, majority owner Jess Jackson, trainer Steve Asmussen, and jockey Robbie Alborado will reach a place in earnings that might just stand the test of time. Easily, $11,000,000.00 is possible...no, probable, IF this good natured, easy going colt can have things his own way.
Do you remember the blockbuster movie "Independence Day" that thrust Will Smith into stardom in the 1990's? Towards the end of that flick, Smith uttered a one-word line to his sidekick, Jeff Goldberg—"OOPPS!"
In that aforementioned stall where Curlin now resides, "OPPS" is a perfect word concerning the horse's immediate future and, eventually, his legacy. Let me put it this way, "What in the HEY are Curlin's people thinking about?"
Looking back, this athlete won the 2007 Preakness, the 2007 Breeder's Cup Classic, and in March of this year, rolled in the Dubai Cup. More recently, add the Stephen Foster handicap to his resume. Stay with me here...WHAT similarity do all of these victories have in common? Dirt, soil, clay, and sand.
On dirt, we have an animal who has earned $9,700,000.00. This animal is happy and loves his work. He is well cared for and his connections have shown brilliant intuition for the love of the sport.
OPPS! Did the plunging stock market or the rocketing gas prices get the best of Jackson and Asmussen? TURF...why? Curlin running on turf? That's crazy! Only twice in the history of thoroughbred racing has a horse taken such a drastic diversion from success and preference to an unknown course of circumstance. Both times, these champion racers succumbed, with Secretariat being one who carried his class to turf succes in his final two starts in 1973.
Curlin ran second to turf specialist Red Rocks last weekend at Belmont...on the turf. As a summary, Curlin was always in striking distance and was running easy. When the time to "GO" came, jockey Alborado went six wide and could not catch the winner.
Post-race talk includes running this colt in another stateside turf race before a trans-Atlantic trip to Paris. Why there? Well, to run this accomplished four-year-old in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which is going to be clockwise for the first time, on turf.
The strange story does not stop in France. Upon returning to the States, Curlin must get ready for the 2008 Breeder's Cup Classic in California. WHEW, finally home and running in familiar surroundings. Hold on...as much as this horse needs a nice, old fashioned dirt track to run on...nah!
Synthetic surface is the next hurdle to jump over. Hey, Jess and Steve!? After the Breeder's Cup, why not try—THE MOON!?
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