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Breeders' Cup hopes increase for Curlin

THE likelihood of Curlin defending his Breeders' Cup Classic title has increased with news that his connections are mulling overa preparatory outing on Santa Anita's synthetic surface.

Although the world's top-rated dirt performer is ante-post favourite with many British bookmakers for America's richest race, which he won last year at Monmouth Park, trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Jess Jackson are wary of running the four-year-old on an all-weather surface.

This year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita will be the first at which all the main track events will be run on an artificialsurface - in this case, the revamped Pro-Ride strip - rather than the traditional dirt.

Now though, the Goodwood Stakes at the Breeders' Cup host venue on September 27 has been identified as a possible target for Curlin instead of the Jockey Club Gold Cup on dirt at Belmont Park the same day.

The Goodwood is a $500,000 Grade 1 event over 1m1f, while the Jockey Club, run over 1m2f, is worth $750,000. Victory in either race would enable Curlin to surpass Cigar's mark of $9.79million as North America's all-time leading money earner.                            

Jackson has horses stabled at Santa Anita, where the Pro-Ride surface has been relaid after numerous problems with the track over the winter.

Asmussen commented: "I don't wantto be a guinea pig with him and be the first one on the racetrack."

Quoted in the Daily Racing Form, the trainer added: "Speaking with Mr. Jackson, he has horses that are going to move in there I believe as early as Tuesday, and the feedback will start then as far as the surface. I think everybody right now is extremely curious of that for a multitude of horses."

A turf experiment having been aborted after Curlin was defeated by Red Rocks, the colt got back to winning ways at Saratoga on Saturday in the Woodward Stakes, fostering hopes of a meeting with the year-younger Big Brown at the Breeders' Cup on October 25. "It's something that everybody would like to see," added Asmussen.


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