Santa Anita prep for Spirit One before Classic
FRANCE'S Arlington Million winner Spirit One will go on trial for the Breeders' Cup Classic in a Grade 1 event at host venue Santa Anita on Saturday week.
The four-year-old will visit the Los Angeles track for the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes over 1m1f, a race that will provide a dress rehearsal for the Classic over a furlong further on the new Pro-Ride all-weather surface.
Spirit One held off Archipenko when recording an all-the-way victory in last month's Arlington Million over 1m2f on the turf in Chicago.
Trainer Philippe Demercastel has opted for the Goodwood ahead of a couple of options at Belmont Park the same day, among them the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
"We decided not to go for the Jockey Club as we will come up against Curlin," said Demercastel. "And I don't want to run him over a mile and a half in the Turf Classic so we have decided to go to Santa Anita."
Although Curlin is vying for Classic favouritism with British bookmakers,his participation remains far from certain given his connections' antipathy towards synthetic surfaces.
The reigning US horse of the year continues in great form since his victory in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, producing a workout on Monday morning described as "awesome" by Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.
According to the Blood-Horse, the Dubai World Cup winner worked 5f in 1m01.8s in preparation for the $750,000 Jockey Club, which he won in 2007.
A repeat victory would make Curlin the leading prize-money earner in North American racing history, taking over from Cigar.
"That would be an outstanding achievement," said Blasi. "Cigar was an unbelievable horse."
Big Brown, who came through his Classic prep unscathed at theweekend on the turf at Monmouth Park, has also never raced on an all-weather track.
Nevertheless, trainer Rick Dutrow intends to keep the Kentucky Derby winner at his base at Aqueduct in New York for his Classic preparations rather than shipping him across country for an early feel of the Santa Anita surface.
"I know what's happening right here, so I want my horses to go to the race the right way and I'll know right here," Dutrow told the Daily Racing Form.
"I don't want to send them out there getting accustomed to the track; it doesn't make no sense to me. They're either going to like it or they're not. I don't care how much they train over it."
Nevertheless, Dutrow is under no illusions about the magnitude of the task in the Classic, regardless of whether Curlin shows up.
"That race is going to be tough," he said. "There's speed in the race, you got to deal with that track, shipping to California."