Curlin Go Bragh

Jess Jackson is to be commended for his pioneer spirit by venturing into uncharted lands in order to expand the horizons of his superstar Curlin, as well as the sport.

His trainer, Steve Asmussen, has mapped out an early course for Curlin’s assault on the history books. With his first workout over the turf a success, he now turns his attention to either the Man o’War Stakes at Belmont or the Arlington Handicap, both run on July 12. As of now, it looks as if the Man o’ War is the target, as long as the Curlin’s licensing issues get resolved by then.

Although some were not enamored with his work, based mostly on time, I thought he looked terrific. His stride was long and fluid, and he seemed to be bouncing off the turf as if he were relishing it. With even the slightest amount of encouragement he would have buried his workmate.

With an ambitious voyage to Europe his ultimate goal, it would seem that Belmont’s wide, sweeping turns would prepare him better for European-style racing. Arlington can boast of an excellent turf course, and probably would provide a more festive atmosphere, but the grade I Man o’War would give Curlin a stiffer test, with the venerable old warrior Better Talk Now heading there, as well as European invader Red Rocks, which means Curlin will have to face two Breeders’ Cup Turf winners in his grass debut. This at least will give Asmussen and Jackson an idea how Curlin stands up against grade/group I turf horses in the U.S. and Europe.

It is what comes after July 12 that is of greater interest. It has been stated all along that the main target is Europe’s most coveted prize, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Oct. 5. This race is often run on testing ground over an equally testing mile and a half undulating course, with a long uphill run leading to the descent around a huge sweeping turn. Then comes the tricky little false stretch that has caused many a jockey blunder over the years. It can appear to someone unfamiliar with the course to be the actual stretch, but in reality it is a short straightaway leading into the main stretch. It is easy to move prematurely at that point and lose your position. Even a three-wide move on the false stretch will often result in a horse getting fanned extremely wide turning for home. Bill Shoemaker made a big outside move with Tom Rolfe on the false stretch in the 1965 Arc, and although he seemed to be in good striking position heading into the main stretch, he got hung out in no man’s land and quickly retreated to finish a well-beaten sixth behind the great Sea Bird.

For that reason, it might be a good idea to consider a switch to a top European jockey or at least make sure Albarado has several, and I mean several, mounts prior to the Arc. No matter how talented an American jockey is, riding in the Arc is a totally different ballgame. Steve Cauthen, who rode in Europe for years and won every major Derby, never won the Arc. Cash Asmussen, who was based in France and rode for most of the major stables, managed to win the Arc once with the top-class Suave Dancer. So, it’s a difficult task, especially for a jockey who is not familiar with the course.

But Asmussen no doubt will stay with Albarado, and he will have one thing going for him, and that is familiarity with the horse. When Jack Price sent Carry Back to the Arc in 1962, he used British jockey Scobie Breasley, who did not like the horse and had no confidence in him. As a result, he rode him terribly.

There is no way to prepare an American horse for Longchamp other than a prep in the Prix Foy, which often results in a phony race, run at a snail’s pace, as does its 3-year-old counterpart the Prix Niel. The fields normally are small and Arc hopefuls on most occasions will just sit and sit and run only the final furlong or so. Other times, horses will go so slow up front they keep going and are difficult to catch. No one with a serious Arc contender pushes their horse too hard trying to win the Foy with the big race looming in three weeks.

When Ogden Phipps sent Intrepid Hero to the Arc in 1975, he had him train out on Long Island, going up and down hill around right-handed bends. But Intrepid Hero simply was not world-class caliber and could finish no better than ninth.

So, what is the best plan of attack for Curlin? The answer actually may be simple. There is another race run in Europe on Sept. 6 that is a perfect fit for Curlin, and that is the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardsown, which served as an excellent prep for last year’s Arc winner Dylan Thomas. What makes the Irish Champion even more appealing is its record as a Breeders’ Cup prep, with past winners including High Chaparral, Fantastic Light, Daylami, Giant’s Causeway, and Swain.

In Curlin’s case, the Irish Champion is much closer to American-style racing with its left-handed turns and run over a course configured more like an American track. The ground, although not flat by any means, is more level than Longchamp, and it is a mile and a quarter instead of a mile and a half. But the most important factor in its favor is that the Irish Champion has become such a prestigious race in its own right that winning it would vault Curlin into the stratosphere of racing superstardom before he even has to run in the Arc. And a victory probably would be make him more coveted as a stallion prospect in America than winning the Arc. A victory at Leopardstown also would give Jackson and Asmussen the option of going for broke and continuing on to the Arc – with plenty of time to prep for it at Chantilly -- or coming home a hero with an Irish Champion victory added to Curlin’s already jewel-studded belt.

By returning from Europe a victor in a great race like the Irish Champion, Curlin could then take a little break and point for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. A victory there would make him the first Classic-Turf winner ever, a feat that may never be duplicated. Just imagine a horse winning an American classic (Preakness), the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup, Irish Champion Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Turf. He would set new standards of greatness and versatility on an international scale never before seen. Even if he loses the Irish Champion, but runs big, he’d still have an opportunity make amends in the Arc if his connections are determined to try to come away with a European group I victory.

Whatever they wind up doing, they’ve pushed all the right buttons so far, including the bold move of sending Curlin to Dubai for a prep race and an extended stay in order to acclimate. Despite the risk of a reverse Euro bounce or possibly running too big a race in his prep, Curlin managed to cruise home in the prep, the Jaguar Trophy under 132 pounds, and in the Dubai World Cup, writing a new chapter in preparing an American horse for the richest race in the world.

Now he faces bigger challenges in Europe. Can he beat the Europeans by simply out-pacing them for speed in much the same way Braulio Baeza knocked off the previously unbeaten Brigadier Gerard with Roberto in the inaugural Benson & Hedges Cold Cup at York in 1972? Or does he try to use those humongous strides of his to out-grind them? One-paced horses often are successful in the Arc, as they can be at Leopardstown. Or does he try to out-close them? That is extremely difficult for an American to do, especially on the Euros’ home turf. No matter how fast an American horse closes, there are usually at least one or two Europeans who will close faster.

So far, there has been nothing in Europe to strike fear in the hearts of Curlin’s connections, with the year being totally dominated by Aidan O’Brien, who followed up his English and Irish 2,000 Guineas victories with Henrythenavigator and his four group I victories at Royal Ascot with wins in the Group I Irish Derby and Eclipse Stakes.

The early favorite for the Arc with the British bookmakers, however, is a French filly, the Aga Khan’s unbeaten French Oaks and French 1,000 Guineas winner Zarkava (yes, we’re all aware Curlin is 0-for-1 against fillies going a mile and a half). With English Derby winner New Approach scratched from the Irish Derby with a late injury, we won’t know much about him until he shows up again, likely against older horses in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The Irish Derby, won by the O’Brien-trained longshot Frozen Fire, did not turn out to be a strong race, with O’Brien’s main hope, Alessandro Volta, wiping out two contenders, including English Derby runner-up and favorite Tartan Bearer.

O’Brien has the leading older horse in Duke of Marmalade, who has been re-born this year, winning three group I’s after playing the perennial bridesmaid role last year. Although he looks to be a 10-furlong horse and is unproven over a mile and a half, O’Brien said he’s being pointed for the King George, along with Hardwicke Stakes winner Macarthur. The Duke would look to be perfectly suited for the Breeders’ Cup Classic over a synthetic surface. Soldier of Fortune, another O’Brien star, and Youmzain are beginning a nice little rivalry, exchanging victories in the Coronation Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, but Soldier of Fortune will skip the King George for whatever reasons and aim for a fall campaign. Youmzain came within a head of springing an 80-1 shocker in last year’s Arc against Dylan Thomas, despite having run second to the O’Brien star in the King George. For now, that is basically it, with Saturday’s Eclipse Stakes won in a close finish by O’Brien’s Mount Nelson. So, we’re not dealing with a Montjeu or a Peintre Celebre this year, or even a Hurricane Run, a Sakhee or a Dylan Thomas. That may change, but at this point there is no one horse that should scare Curlin away.

Wherever Curlin winds up running, it should be an interesting second half of the season.


Leave a Comment:


Wow... Steve.... How awesome it is to have your knowledge and insight on the blogs.  I have been gone for a couple weeks and came back to this nice surprise. I will be sure to follow your blog stable. You know who I am.... I am the girl wayyyyyyyyyyy up North!!! I am looking forward to seeing what Curlin will do next.

06 Jul 2008 7:53 PM

Have been visiting this site for years and never really look at your Blogs. Glad I started reading them great Info.

06 Jul 2008 8:06 PM

Jess Jackson deserves a standing ovation from race fans for 1. racing Curlin and 2. taking him around the world.  Can't think of a more visionary owner.  Look at IEAH, etc.

06 Jul 2008 8:45 PM

"But the most important factor in its favor is that the Irish Champion has become such a prestigious race in its own right that winning it would vault Curlin into the stratosphere of racing superstardom before he even has to run in the Arc."

Steve, I'm not sure what you mean here - are you talking all time? I'm not that familiar with racing in Europe, but I can't imagine with his win in Dubai that Curlin isn't already an international superstar. As for Zarkava, I don't see any 3-year-old outside of a healthy Big Brown seriously challenging Curlin no matter where the race is.

06 Jul 2008 9:08 PM
cybertron log

Ha ha, this is a fun and very insightful blog entry. I was always big on the European races, and a very nice discussion on some of the big Euro races really opened my eyes up.

It would be absolutely lovely to see Curlin perform on the grass both here and overseas.

06 Jul 2008 9:29 PM

The Champion would be a good race, but Asmussen usually gives Curlin a race over a course and their is no real 'prep' for the Champion of which I can think.

One European that Mr. Haskin didn't mention who intrigues me for the Arc is Peeping Fawn.  I'm still of the belief that she wasn't run in the Arc last year because Ballydoyle wanted Dylan Thomas to win (stud-wise) and a win by her would have actually been a long term loss to the overall operation.

What scares me is that Peeping Fawn has yet to run this year. It's freakishly like what happened with Alexandrova last season.  Peeping Fawn ran almost every other week it seemed like last year, so her not racing yet puts her participation  in the Arc in question.

06 Jul 2008 9:40 PM

Congrats for fielding the best Blog on the web. I depend on you for great insight. Hope Mr. Jackson is aware of you and listens. The Irish Champion is a fine idea. Thanks NancyBen

06 Jul 2008 10:09 PM
Bill Mac

Their should be so many more owners in horse racing with the guts of Jess Jackson.This sport needs a hero in a big way and between Curlin and Jackson and the fine turf writer Haskin, there is hope the for this great game indeed.

07 Jul 2008 3:10 AM
Pat in Canada

Hi Steve: Thanks for a great history lesson. Another article for the binder.

Your insight on Curlin's direction is so intriguing. I've read this blog twice and need to read it again. Your description of the Arc means a search on YouTube so that I can see the exact path the horses have to navigate. The hill and the false stretch are the parts I really want to see. We agree with Bill Mac - with a trio like Curlin, Jackson and Haskin, there is hope!

07 Jul 2008 7:00 AM
Jane Marston

Many thanks for this interesting, engaging piece.  As always, your writing makes me feel I'm "right there" at the events you describe.

07 Jul 2008 8:05 AM

Great analysis - thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight.  Curlin is such an exciting horse.

07 Jul 2008 10:20 AM
Brian A.

 Wow!  Thank you so much for the great entries you write.  You don't just cover the subject material, you disect it and take it from every angle.  

 I'm very excited to see what Curlin can do with what's thrown at him the rest of the year, and thrilled that you wrote an entire entry on him.  

 I also agree with Bill Mac-the trio of Curlin, Jackson and Haskin, there is hope!!

07 Jul 2008 10:23 AM

How many horses will O'Brien be running in the Irish Champion and the Arc?  Will his jockeys use tean tactics to assist one of their own in winning as they appeared to in the Irish Derby(i.e. Hindu Kush's move off the rail to make way for Alessandro Volta and then Alessandro Volta's veering across in front of the contenders)? Will Curlin be blocked? Jess Jackson, Steve Asmussen and Robbie Albarado are brave indeed to tackle the Coolmore folks on their home turf.

07 Jul 2008 10:29 AM

I love reading about Curlin and what he's up to. I agree with what you said about him prepping in the Irish champion stakes and even at that he'd put new standards on what US horses can do. Thanks for blogging.

07 Jul 2008 10:31 AM
Bob Benjamin

Thanks for the article. I like your approach with the Irish Champion Stakes. That race has become a cracker in recent years. The winner spurs big interest under the shed row. I hope that Curlin goes to Belmont for the reasons you mentioned, and then, we'll know more.

07 Jul 2008 10:47 AM
Monica V

Thanks, Steve, for all the information regarding Curlin. I was quite surprised to hear that his connections were considering the ARC for Curlin.  After thinking about it,  I think it's a brilliant idea.  I guess they will really decide after he runs this weekend on the grass.  I have no idea if he will run as well on grass as on dirt but he probably will.  I can only think of one other horse that was equally as good on dirt and grass and now we will see if there is another.  I think a win in the ARC would be yet another feather in his cap making him more of an interntional horse than any other.  

Curlin just keeps getting better.  Watching him run makes me feel he is unbeatable because he exudes class and power with every stride.  He is a real treat to watch.  I would really rather see him run in the classic again as everyone would love to see him run against Big Brown.  There are those that say Curlin's connections won't run him against Big Brown because he would be beaten but my feeling is that would not be the case.  Big Brown is really no threat to Curlin and I hope that show down does happen.

07 Jul 2008 11:12 AM

Jess Jackson is doing a great thing by letting Curlin run? What would you do if you were pushing 80 and worth a billion dollars?  What does selling Curlin for stud fees do for him?

I wish more owners would run their stars at 4 and they should if they really cared about the sport but some just can't resist the big money.

I am a big Curlin fan but I don't want Curlin to run in the Arc.  What for?  American racing is at a breaking point and we want our biggest star in France?  The race is often run on soft turf and soft turf would be the end of that giant horse.  Let him stay in the USA and climax a tough year in racing in this country.  Let us talk about the Big Brown vs. Curlin matchup until October.... Curlin off to France... I say no way.  We need him here in the USA.

07 Jul 2008 11:21 AM

Curlin is my favorite race horse in training.  I think he is simply the best.  However,  I do not think running him in the Arc is a good idea,  I think it is a very bad idea. To me,  Curlin just is not an Arc type horse.  I'll keep quiet for now until after the Arc,  it will not be a good outcome,  you will see.  I love this horse but his owner's goal of winning the Arc with him is pure insanity. I don't care and call me stupid now,  but he's not going to win it.

07 Jul 2008 11:24 AM
Steve Haskin

I can't disagree with those who do not like the idea of running in the Arc for the reasons they stated. But with racing so international these days -- ie Europe, Dubai, Japan, and Hong Kong -- I'm not about to disagree with their decision either. Overall, it will be good for racing wherever he runs. I'm all for trying to conquer new worlds, such as the decisions to run Giant's Causeway, Sakhee, Galileo and other European champions in the Classic and even running Dylan Thomas in the JC Gold Cup. It also would show the foreigners that our stars are more than just a bunch of drugged-up horses.

07 Jul 2008 12:03 PM

Mr. Haskins I like your analysis of the Man O'War Stakes as a good test for Curlin's prowess on the turf.  Assuming that he comes good, I think that he should bypass the Irish Champion Stakes as that may be good for established european grass runners but not for Curlin, aiming at mastering the right-handed turns of Longchamp.  Anyway it is just fantastic that we can be having this discussion on the real possibility of a racing fans dream coming true.  The greatest of respect is due to the enterprising  Jess Jackson et al, owners of the mighty Cuirlin (wonderful horse and legend in the making).  

Many people have frowned at the supposedly lack of quality of this years crop of three year olds and older horses but I would argue that it may yet turn out to be one of the most exciting racing seasons in recent times especially if Big Brown returns with a bang in the Haskell.  Then we'll all be licking our chops at the prospect of the match-up of this century in the Breeders Cup.  One would hope that neither the connections of Curlin or Big Brown seek to avoid the clash through one-up-manship "chess moves" for the coveted Horse-of-the-year title.  Sometimes this happens when a championship season boils done to one "big" race at the end of a gruelling season.  We remember the connections of Holy Bull and Mineshaft respectively not risking their claim to Horse-of-the-year by avoiding the Breeders Cup.  Both those horses were deserving of their titles but their absence from the championship while they were not injured took away some of the lustre from the Breeder's Cup and should carry some loss of points in the final analysis.  What do you think Steve?

07 Jul 2008 12:16 PM

I am wondering how well does Curlin have to run in say the Man o War?  Does he have to win or just place?  If he runs well but doesn't win will they still send him to France? I am hoping they televise the race and the Arc if he goes.

07 Jul 2008 12:43 PM

Curlin has his hands full this weekend if he gets to run in NY. If he handles it, watch out! I do think questioning Curlin's turn of foot is foolish. His trouble changing leads has made his turn of foot seem less than what it actually is. Asmussen seems to have gotten him to switch with no trouble now, and his cruising speed is second to noone. I believe this is the best horse I've seen in my 15 years of handicapping, I hope he can bring that dirt form to the turf.

07 Jul 2008 1:11 PM
Kevin M

Great stuff Steve!  That is the first I heard the possibility of Curlin going in the BC Turf.  That would be awesome.  My selfish, narrow minded American world view would prefer that to an Arc win.  

07 Jul 2008 1:23 PM
Jim Allen

This is quite an ambitious task.  While the Arc is a nice race, it dseems to me the BC Classic would be a much easier assignment.

07 Jul 2008 1:46 PM

Thanks, Steve, for the commentary and historic "Arc" of your writing.  The world is getting smaller and while Curlin at Saratoga would have been nice, my thanks to Jess Jackson for keeping Curlin on the track.

07 Jul 2008 1:54 PM

I hope Curlin runs in the Breeders Cup Classic this fall.  A showdown between him and BB would give our American sport a BIG boost.  It would be possible to run him in the Arc and the Classic, but I don't honestly think his connections are that daring.  Winning the biggest European race would be an amazing international acheivement, but I think our country should be able to enjoy having the number one horse in the world race at home.  I for one will be very dissapointed if he is retired from racing after the Arc, and we don't get to see him run in America agian.

 I like the idea of him running in the Irish Champion.  He could win that, then come back home and strut his stuff. Go Curlin!!

 Thanks for your (as always) GREAT insight Steve!!

07 Jul 2008 2:22 PM

Kudos to you Steve!  Your analysis against Curlin going to the Arc was compelling,concise and easy to understand.  My concern is the soft turf you always hear about in Europe and horses specializing in soft turf racing. I think the soft turf would be a definite advantage for the Europeans. Is there a soft turf course here in the US Curlin could race or train on? I want Curlin to have a fair chance to prove how good he is--so would the Arc really be the best race for him?

07 Jul 2008 2:26 PM

I would love for the Curlin folks to prove me wrong, but I don't see Curlin excelling on the turf, even in these past 2 workouts.  Workouts are different than racing, and this is a new surface.

Also, what is the legal status of Curlin's minority interest.  Despite Judge Crittenden assigning this 20% minority interest to a receiver, it looks as though Tandy LLC's attorney is trying to hold up this assignment of the company's assets to a receiver, so the licensing issue may continue to be a problem this week.

Of course, it's all going to come down to politics and if Jess J throws around enough money, I'm sure he can find "justice" and a racing jurisdiction to achieve his goals.

07 Jul 2008 2:40 PM
Kelly S

No matter what happens after this weekend, this has definitely been a very exciting time since I first heard talk of running him in the Arc.  These last few weeks I have been practically twitching with anticipation just to see him run on the grass!  The run to the TC wasn't this exciting for me.  The Derby happens every year; someone seems to be going into the Belmont every other year with a chance to win the Crown; I have seen a number of turf horses run in big dirt races; but this is the first time in my life that I have seen an American superstar considering taking on turf superstars on their surface.  How can you deny that excitement?

Why should Curlin run in the Arc when American racing is in trouble?  It is because American racing is in trouble that I think this would be huge for the industry.  If Curlin wins his turf race here, his trek to Europe would be worthy news for all media outlets, not just racing media.  Think of it:  1) He's a 4-year-old in a time we are complaining of horses not racing enough.  2) Okay, not the best public image trainer on the drugging issue, but he would be going into a drug-free atmosphere, so if he does well, people can't say, well it's just because his trainer's a cheat.  3) What is the best way to get the general public excited about a racehorse?  How about a rooting interest?  What better way to get Americans interested in horseracing than to have an American horse going into another country to take on their superstars?  If we could get the right media coverage, I bet people who never watched a Derby will get behind Curlin.  In case you haven't noticed, a lot of Americans are threatened right now by the perception that everything is being taken away by foreign businesses and interests.  Yes, it's a crass selling point, but America vs. Europe will get the attention of the general public.  This is exactly the kind of drama racing needs.

Go Curlin!!

07 Jul 2008 2:49 PM

Please if Big Brown was to run against Curlin we would all just be disappointed when BB is eased up at the stretch after Curlin tears him a new one.

Go Curlin!!

07 Jul 2008 3:00 PM

We should all hope that Curlin races in the Arc and turns in a historic performance. Besides, what could the horse possibly prove by running in any of the BC races? He's already proven to be the best horse in the world on dirt, while the BC Turf doesn't nearly have the prestige of the Arc. Can you imagine if Curlin actually pulled it off and won the Arc? He would go down in history, which is the entire point.

07 Jul 2008 3:02 PM

What a fabulous read!  Is there any way you can forward your thoughts herein to Aidan O'Brien and either Jackson or Asmussen to incorporate their thoughts and reactions too?  Thank you for this valuable info.

07 Jul 2008 3:14 PM
the wiz

It's a gutsy move to run Curlin on the Turf to test his class there. The Man-O-War is a huge test much less the Arc. Give the connections credit for going out on a limb and seeking the best competition in the world to measure up against. What a story if they pull it off. In my opinion winning the Dubai World Cup and the Arc in the same year surpasses a Triple Crown in prestige. It's one thing to beat your own generation (not to mention this years sorry class)but completely another to beat the world's best of all ages on different surfaces. The wear and tear of shipping all over the world and having to be in top form for a much longer period of time makes this a huge challenge. Throw in the Japan Cup or the Breeders Cup Classic already won and you got a bigger better Triple Crown out there. On it's own this "Dynamic Double" would truly be an alltime accomplishment.

07 Jul 2008 3:53 PM
Monica V


Great post!  Excellent thoughts.

07 Jul 2008 4:38 PM

I like most of you think Jess Jackson should be congratulated for bringing Curlin back to race at 4. But unlike most of you I don't like Curlin traveling the world because he can end up like War Emblem, Sunday Silence, Silver Charm or Roses in May and end up standing stud in Asia or Europe and we'll never feel his effect on American racing.

07 Jul 2008 4:47 PM

very pleased to see mr jackson and steve asmussen viewing the whole world as curlins stage as europes top horses have for years!! The value of an arc win or even a placing is inestimable to his value as he has nothing else to prove on dirt no matter what IEAH  may think!!This at last breaks the mould of parochial thinking american trainers and owners who for years operated in a 50 state comfort zone, till the world cup came along! Personally i think he will find one or two too good at longchamps but what a treat it is going to be for the global game

07 Jul 2008 5:24 PM

Steve, I once read a trainer say the Euro races are a whole other ball game and wouldn't go into the arena without the Euro connections like Magnier or Coolmore. What's your take on that.


Do you think D man is for real? Saw you'd been gone for a while, read the Q&A his shot at our old bud ATTB.

07 Jul 2008 6:10 PM

Hi there

good blog but i'll give u a euro point

of view.Can i just say that curlin is a great horse a true champion.If the onwer of curlin wanted any chance of winning the arc then the horse should have been past onto a european trainer such as andre fabre for instance.Also curlin should of been sent to france or ireland straight after the dubai world cup.Tradionally horses do well in the arc when they have mid-summer break and are brought back for the prep races late august early sep.I could go on all day about what makes a potental arc winner but i wont.I personaly think that if new approach(derby winner) comes back that he will win the arc but best of luck to curlin and connections.

07 Jul 2008 6:30 PM
Monica V


I don't think that Curlin will stane outside the US.  The reason those other horses stood in outside the US was the money.  I believe Sunday Silence was sold for 25 million and I was broken hearted he went to Japan but they money was too good for one of the partners to pass on, maybe all 3.

Jess Jackson has tons of money.  He doesn't need it.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if he ran Curlin at 5?

I'm sure it won't happen but fun to think about.  All I know is they are going for the earnings record.  I suppose when he makes number one, which should be quickly, he will be retired.

07 Jul 2008 8:17 PM

Thanks Mr. Haskin for laying out the excitement for Curlin's summer so well!

As disappointed as I am that Curlin won't be matching up with horses in the Breeder's Cup this fall, I think that it will be interesting to be able to watch what it takes to prepare one of our horses to run in Europe.  I really enjoyed reading about the strategy that it will take to make the adjustment and make a real run for the Arc.  I think that it adds an interesting twist to watching Curlin's races this year.  While the match up in the BC Classic would be a great draw for the non-racing public, the race in the Arc and the prep leading up to it will be a good treat for those of us who are already racing fans.

07 Jul 2008 8:58 PM


What are the Turf conditions like in Europe? I remember hearing that they are different but I can't recall if it is more giving or firmer. Thank you.

07 Jul 2008 9:25 PM
Steve Haskin

For Ranagulzion: Actually, they claimed Mineshaft indeed did have an injury and produced the X-rays toi prove it. While I agree that a showdown between Curlin and Big Brown for HOY would be fantastic, having that showdown on a synthetic surface takes away from the drama and its importance. does anyone want to see these two meet and have Go Between win the Classic; a horse who couldnt warm either of them up on a dirt track? A championship in my opinion should not be determined on a synthetic surface, so I feel the Classic this year will prove absolutely nothing unless Big Brown can beat all those synthetic/turf horses. I wouldnt not count on Curlin running. His connections have higher mountains to conquer than winning a phony Classic over a track that hasnt even been installed yet and wont even be tested until 5 weeks before the BC.

07 Jul 2008 10:29 PM

Winning the Arc will be hard.  The HARD is what would make it great.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  

Enough of this provincial thinking.  There is an entire world out there that is doing this better than we are and it is time to join them.  This would be a huge first step. Whether he wins or not is irrelevant.  

The attempt is to be applauded.

How could Robby get himself some races at Longchamp? Who would ride him?

07 Jul 2008 10:33 PM


I have heard that the going in Europe is softer. I do not know if this applies to the entire of the countries with racetracks, to just some of them, or to none at all - but I've heard it's softer.


Curlin will have an even better chance at winning the arc if Asmussen can get the same gate starter for Curlin as he had at Churchill ;) and bravo for the more recent post; The classic this year will not be a championship race because it will be on synthetic.

07 Jul 2008 11:31 PM
Steve Haskin

Katsan, although the turf in Europe can be firm (called good over there) at times, they have so much more rain than we do that there is usually a lot more give in the ground, and they run on soft turf much more than we do. When they get a lot of rain, which is always possible in the fall, the courses can get extremely soft. In the U.S. they'd take the races off the turf, but obviously you cant do that in Europe, so you better like soft turf or you're going tp be extremely compromised.

08 Jul 2008 1:30 AM
Steve Haskin

Ross D, I agree with what you say about preparing for the Arc after a summer break. Obviously, thats not going to be the case here, so they'll have to make the best of it. It's their choice, and they're probably not aware of how its done. Asmussen is not exactly known as a turf trainer, so all we can do is wait to see what happens Saturday and go from there. Jackson is calling the shots, and hopefully he knows what he's doing.

08 Jul 2008 1:37 AM

yes, the attempt must be aplauded, although the chances to win the Arc are minimal in my opinion. apart from the lack of experience, the Arc is  1 1/2 real miles on turf that is always on the good/soft side early october. Curlin is simply not bred for this kind of race. the Irish Champion looks more suited, but coolmore will certainly employ half a dozen runners to ensure an outcome to their liking.

08 Jul 2008 1:53 AM

Nice article, Steve, which is definitely the norm for you.

However, I am not in full agreement with all the points you make.

As an American, now living in Calif., who grew up in Ireland and lived within walking distance of Leopardstown, a trip to the Irish Champion by Curlin would be welcomed with open arms there.

It would be a fine test of his abilities and, most likely, a better field than he might line up against in a French trial.

Where I can't agree with you, though, concerns the layout of the tracks. The final quarter mile at Leopardstown is a stiff uphill finish. It is a good test of stamina, and is more of an incline than he would face in Paris.

Running left-handed is nothing new for Curlin. The switch to having a rail on the other side of him while running can be quite a problem for some horses.

I feel it would be best if they got a race into him going right-handed. If it were my decision, a race at Longchamps would set them up better for the Arc.

That being said, I applaud the connections for contemplating such a bold journey. In this day and age of retiring colts before they fully mature as racehorses, their approach is refreshing. Wherever they wind up along the way, we will all be rooting for Curlin on the first Sunday in October, should he make it to Paris to take his chance.

08 Jul 2008 2:37 AM
dr marv

great article steve! I CAN'T WAIT!

been hoping a great american horse would conquer europe since arazi (wished for a kentucky-epsom derby double). as soon as barbaro won in 2006 I was praying he'd try the arc.

curlin  has a great advantage in this historic quest in steve asmussen's brother giving him all the inside information.

if curlin actually won the arc he would leap into the top 10 greatest american thoroughbreds. if he follows up with a win in the japan cup and possibly a career-ender back in the states, he

would absolutely challenge man o'war, secretariat and citation as greatest american TB, but more importantly he would be the best horse in WORLD thoroughbred history. THANKS JESSE JACKSON AND STEVE ASMUSSEN!

08 Jul 2008 3:02 AM

For all those who are so anxious to see Curlin stay home and run in the BC Classic, I'd say that whether he can run on polycrap is just as big a question as whether he can run on turf at this point.

08 Jul 2008 8:03 AM
Steve Haskin

Nijinsky, I agree with what you say about Leopardstown, but it's still closer to an American track and the initial uphill run at Longchamp makes it a test right from the start, and sometimes downhill can be just as tough on a horse who is not used to it and Longchamp has a steeper downhill run. Also, I agree with you that prepping at Longchamp would be more ideal, but my suggestion of the Irish Champion was more as a substitute for the Arc than a prep. I just said if they could win that race they wouldnt need to go to the Arc, but still could if they so desired.

08 Jul 2008 9:43 AM

I think people need to put things into perspective:

Yes, Jess Jackson is racing Curlin at 4 to "give something back," but also, Jess Jackson is basically prohibited via the court and legal entanglements from doing much else with Curlin - and the recent assignment of Curlin's 20% minority share to the receiver says as much.  Licensing issues are problematic for the horse in partnership now and could jeopardize the run at either Belmont or Arlington this weekend, thereby not leaving much time to prep.

I guess, if Jess wanted to do something for AMERICAN RACING he would stop charactarizing it as a disaster (because all of it is not) and move his horse from the barn of a trainer who has had multiple and RECENT drug infractions.

Jess can't go up to Capitol Hill and talk like all is squeaky clean when he keeps his horses with one of the trainers who is the target of such discussions on drugs in racing. 

Also, remember, when you go to Europe, you have to play by Euro rules, and if you recall the ARC last year, Dylan Thomas was "vindicated" after a 45 minute inquiry. 

So, Jess, if you want to do something for American racing, let Curlin make a run at a second BC Classic.... he does have something to prove there - that he can beat the best youngsters trying to dethrone him.... (and I believe he can.)

08 Jul 2008 10:20 AM

Steve, thanks for this great article on my favorite horse. It seems that anytalk on Curlins progress to greatness always brings out the most opinions in the blog department. For all those who think Curlin can't get 1 1/2 miles is mistaken. In the Belmont last year he DID NOT back up to Rags, he fought gamely all the way to the wire against a fresh, bred to go the distance, filly freak. Curlin can go the distance or the connections would never have considered the Arc. If he can handle the turf this weekend and win I believe he should be considered the favorite to win the Arc. My last opinion today has to do with BC run on synthetic. I hate this, I hate it because we are giving in to political correctness. This mentality is ruining our country and now threatens the industry we love. Now, New York tracks are considering the switch all because of the pressure that the animal rights activists are delivering. We are no longer going to have dirt tracks in this country. Our traditional triple crown races are being threatened, and our dirt sires will become obsolete. Sorry to be so pessimistic but I don't like the direction our industry is going.

08 Jul 2008 11:29 AM


I'm a long time fan of your writing and this is my first visit to your blog.  Great job.  Keep up the good work.

08 Jul 2008 11:32 AM
Ruffian IL

Does anyone know where Curlin will be making his turf debut this weekend? Saratoga or Arlington?? As much as I would love to see him run against bigger competition, I would love to see him live in "windy city" :-))

08 Jul 2008 11:52 AM

As an American racing fan who makes the trip to the Arc every year, I am thrilled to finally see a good US based horse trying the Arc.  However, I won't let myself get my hopes too high that Curlin will win at Longchamp as it is a very testing course with the usually soft going.

That said, does anyone remember a horse named Deep Impact?  He ran in the Arc a few years ago and was the Japanese super horse -- a triple crown winner who skipped most of his 4 year old season at home to run in the Arc.  Every step of his preparation was detailed in the racing press overseas and over 6000 Japanese fans made the trip to Longchamp to cheer him on.  It was a great day and the feeling in the crowd was electric.  Forget the disappointment of his third place finish and the subsequent drug positive -- I don't see 6000 American fans following Curlin to Longchamp, but it will be a great day if he makes it that far.  

One of the biggest criticisms of Deep Impact's Arc preparation was the lack of a prep race.  Looks like the Curlin camp is doing that part right, at least...

08 Jul 2008 12:22 PM

Ruffian Il,

Either Belmont or Arlington, depends on the licensing issue, article in BH. Also Saratoga doesn't open until 7/23/2008 and I can't wait for the meet at one of the last great old tracks!!!

08 Jul 2008 12:46 PM

I agree that the rush to judgement on synthetic surfaces is all about being politically correct; however, there are even more dangerous issues with the synthetics surface components as to what levels of lead are in the composite of the fibers and recycled materials, and how do these recycled materials affect both horse AND rider?

I hope NYRA and NY Racing doesn't adopt synthetics - I will forego not only running at Saratoga, but ever visiting that once beautiful racetrack if they are stupid enough to cave into the pressure.

08 Jul 2008 1:03 PM

"polycrap"... I hadn't heard that nickname yet and that is too funny!  

I agree that it is pretty worrisome that we are jumping into new technology before it's been around the US long enough to understand the long term impact.  Has there been a lot of research done over the course of say, five years, someplace else?  Besides the obvious with how it changes the impact on the body and how it holds up over time with varying environmental conditions, I'd worry about what the particulates coming off it does to the lungs of horses and jockeys.  Have their been any study of the particulates that are released during a race?  How about a long term study to see what particulates are released over time as the track weathers?  The lungs can clear a lot of dirt and sand without a negative impact, but that doesn't mean it can clear every type of particle or chemical as effectively.  

08 Jul 2008 1:22 PM

I hope Curlin will run next year as a five year old in the US. I havent gotten to see him yet, and was very upset when I heard he would be running on the turf...IN FRANCE!

08 Jul 2008 3:05 PM

I was lucky enough to see Curlin win the Stephen Foster. What a thrill! I still have my $5 win ticket (worth a whopping $7) and plan to frame it with one of the photos I took of The Champ that day, as soon as I get around to it.

I am also lucky enough to remember when Carry Back journeyed to France for his attempt at Arc glory. That loss in no way detracts from his place in my memory and I still get choked up when I visit his grave at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

I applaud Curlin's people for taking this bold step. Curlin has nothing left to prove on dirt. He has faced the best in the world twice in open competition and prevailed both times. A win over Big Brown would prove nothing, and a loss on a synthetic track would prove even less. But to win what is arguably the toughest race in the world, would put Curlin at the top of the sport in a unique way. I don't recall any horse since Secretariat other than maybe the much lamented John Henry establishing world class credibility on both dirt and grass.

Go Champ!

08 Jul 2008 4:28 PM

One can only hope the turf comes up soft for Curlin this weekend so this whole France thing can be dropped. Ducking Big Brown does nothing for racing in the USA.  Curlin should stay home and defend his title. Getting his kicked in across the pond does no one any good.

08 Jul 2008 4:39 PM

Draynay, Curlin is hardly "Ducking Big Brown". Curlin has faced the best in the world twice in OPEN competition and won both times. Big Brown has never faced OPEN competition. All his races to date were age restricted. And I seem to recall that everyone was so bent out of shape the past 2 months because he only faced a weak field of three year olds in the Triple Crown races.

Even when Curlin raced against other 3 year olds, he faced the likes of Hard Spun, Street Sense and Rags to Riches. Brownie has yet to face any that tough.

Let's see what the UPS poster boy can do against older horses first, then we will have a more accurate picture of his Breeders' Cup potential.

Even if Curlin's Arc ambitions fall short of their goal, it would make more sense to run him in the Breeders' Cup Turf than the Classic on an artificial surface.

Maybe Dutrow is ducking Curlin. He could just as easily point Super Brown to a showdown with Smart Strike's wealthiest son, no matter the surface, as he could any other course of action. Team Curlin has made no secret of their intentions. If Dutrow wants a piece of Curlin, he knows where to find him. Sounds like someone else just might be doing the "ducking".

08 Jul 2008 5:27 PM

Hi there

Ross the euro here again i'm reading some of the feedback your getting to your blog steve and i'm very disappointed at some of the negative stuff about curlin running in europe.You americans should be proud of this horse and proud to show him off anywhere in the world. I'm not french so without bias i can say that the arc is the world's greatest race so one of the world's best horses i.e curlin should be running in it.

08 Jul 2008 5:44 PM

I love this horse,  but he is not going to win the Arc.

08 Jul 2008 6:08 PM

Great job on the part of Curlin's owners, running him at 4 and running him in France. It's a shame horses like Big Brown get $50,000,000 offers and get whisked away to the breeding shed without the horse getting his chance to prove his greatness.

08 Jul 2008 7:48 PM





08 Jul 2008 7:51 PM

Good luck in the Man O War, curlin. I plan to show up @ Belmont Saturday. I find it amazing how the media pays attention to 1 shot wonders like Big Brown and Eight Belles and not to horses like Curlin who could put racing back in the national spotlight. Curlin dominated racing last year and has 2 international wins to his credit and the only place I hear about him is in the horse racing section of newspapers and websites like Hopefully running in France will put him in the national spotlight. Curlin, you are the best!!!!!!!!

08 Jul 2008 8:25 PM
Brian A.

Yes!!  Alright, Curlin's going in the Man 'O' War.  I'm deffinetly going there to watch him.  

I've seen him run in person three times, what an honor!!

Curlin, the one and only.

Go Curlin!!

08 Jul 2008 9:39 PM

There has been no ducking by anyone.

08 Jul 2008 10:42 PM
Ken from Rhode Island

I consider myself a true sports fan and consider Curlin's connections as true sportsmen to attempt the path of winning the Arc. One of the beauties of sports is the challenge of facing all kinds of competition and seeing what kind of competitor you (in this case, the horse) are. I applaud the connections for reaching for such a lofty goal and hope they succeed.

08 Jul 2008 11:24 PM

dirt is the better surface for sure when it's built right (Laurel Park Md.track is one of the best dirt tracks in the world) & properly maintained...try & find out from Keenland(polytrack),Tepeta, or any of the other's about their product's & they will not talk...more of Ca. jumping the gun again...Long Live The King & The Dirt!!!

09 Jul 2008 1:01 AM

Hows this for an interesting scenario? Lets just say Curlin is good enough to win the Arc. In my opinion that would put him in the top ten of the greatest racehorses.

However if he could then be wheeled back into the Classic and win that too,now you can make the argument that he is one of the greatest in the history of the sport.Its not impossible as he is lightly raced and is a big srong individual.Otherwise I don't see the need,other than stud value. The average/casual fan could care less about the arc.

09 Jul 2008 8:57 AM

That would be great if Curlin goes to Leopardstown on September 6th as I have tickets for that race day!  I am going to Ireland for a week of racing/stud visits/training yard visits with Racing-Europe.  And, no I have no financial interest in the company, just a happy traveler with them.

09 Jul 2008 9:18 AM
the wiz
What Curlin's connections are trying to do is write history with accomplishments none has ever done before. That would be far more prestigious for American Racing. They want to find out where he stands not only on dirt ( where he has already proven he's #1 in the world) but against the world's best on a completely different surface. Big Brown's connections will never dare try that.

Beating Big Brown has already been done and done by many of a weak crop of 3 yr olds INCLUDING a maiden!! Curlin's got nothing to gain facing Big Brown.

Duck Duck Dutrow wants nothing to do with Curlin much less any older horses at this point. It's  joke he is facing only 3 yr olds again in his next start. If he was so good there are plenty of unrestricted graded races where he could enter against something other than this sorry class of 3 yr olds. Instead they enter him in a race where the competition is so weak he should win by 10 and that will still prove nothing.

09 Jul 2008 10:40 AM

Steve, thanks for the response.  I agree 100% about the "false track" (synthetic surface) scenario with Big Brown and Curlin being possibly upset by a "Go Between".

I'm thinking that this year could signal a return to the years when the Breeder's Cup Turf eclipsed or rivaled the BC Classic as the marqee event, such as when Pebles beat Strawberry Road, when Manila defeated Dancing Brave and when Kotashaan nipped Bien Bien on that same Santa Anita Turf back in 1993.  With Big Brown being a proven Turf horse (masquerading on dirt) based on performance and breeding, perhaps the showdown with Curlin could be on the Turf at Santa Anita if some sponsor could raise the stakes of this race to make it worthwhile to the connections of both horses.  This could be justified because the Breeder's Cup Classic has always been on dirt and the switch in surfaces should mean a discounted value of the race until the surface is proven or the playing field is level for all the top horses.  

09 Jul 2008 10:56 AM
Monica V


Do you honestly think Curlin's connections have opted to run in the ARC just to duck Big Brown?  Do you honestly think they would go to all this trouble, expense and uncertainty to avoid Big Brown?

Do you really think that?  I don't think they've even given Big Brown a thought.  They are trying to do something no one else has ever done.  Just how do you think the outcome of a race with Big Brown would be?  Do you really think he can beat Curlin?

09 Jul 2008 11:01 AM

Ken, Oooh, how to be delicate here, umm. Steve is facing a major drug suspension, for the second time same drug. Partial ownership is in jail, majority owner has sued numerous entities and testified erroneously in Congress that owners have no reprensentation (TOBA?). Problems causing licensing issues. I just am having a little bit of trouble wrapping my arms around the connections.NOw it's a different story with the horse, thanks to Helen Pitts class, style, talent and a true sportswoman. Much like Big Brown/ Patrick Reynolds and Paul Pompa.

09 Jul 2008 11:31 AM
Steve Haskin

Patrick, my e-mail address is I'm looking forward to your stories.

09 Jul 2008 12:10 PM

Clay: I couldn't agree with you more. I hate polytrack and frankly don't believe it has proven anything. Horses race on dirt. They have raced on dirt for years and years. The problem with the breakdowns don't come from the track. Basically they are trying to put a bandaid over the wound instead of treating the real problems. As for Curlin being pointed at the Arc. I'm not sure how to feel about that. I will have to see how he does this weekend. It sure is a downer to read about all the legal troubles surrounding this horse.

09 Jul 2008 1:15 PM

Shamfan ??? What older horses ??? Who ??? Are you kidding me? Frost Giant just won a G1 amongst older he is a claiming horse !!!! Curlin ran and he was the only one to break 100 Beyer !!! What older horses ??? Give me a break please... You crack on this group of 3 year olds but at this point last year Smooth Air and Pyro are just as accomplished as Hard Spun.  Curlin can go to France and get beat or he can stay here and get beat... why go all those miles to lose?  They don't want to race Big Brown for one reason ...if they lose to Big Brown their whole year is a bust.  They will NEVER under any conditions face Big Brown.

09 Jul 2008 2:16 PM
Julie L.

Curlin go bragh indeed, being 1st generation Irish I appreciate the reference and I think that the Irish Champion Stakes is an excellent idea but also understand that the owner and trainer are going for the "old" prestige of winning the Arc. Having a horse prove himself on both surfaces and with the ability to travel to other countries and win does show just how great a Thoroughbred Curlin is. I will be watching the Man O' War Stakes on television anxious to see how Curlin handles the turf and must say that with the way Steve Asmussen has been handling the training job with this horse that if he did not believe that Curlin could handle the turf then he would not run him on it, why jeopordize what you have accomplished, Asmussen is too smart for that.

09 Jul 2008 3:57 PM
Steve Haskin

Ranagulzion (one of these days youre gonna have to tell me what that means), regarding Go Between and the synthetic Breeders' Cup, my next blog is already written and it is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on just that.

09 Jul 2008 4:38 PM
Monica V

Draynay is absolutely Big Brown's biggest fan.  I hope the connections appreciate that.  This is a horse that came in last in the Belmont and Curlin's connections are afraid of him!  Whoa!

09 Jul 2008 5:03 PM

Let's not go there again with the BB vs Curlin throwdown, It got way too old on TC talk.

09 Jul 2008 5:37 PM
Tommy B

This move to the turf is fascinating.  Curlin's pedigree is better for turf than dirt, so I would not be surprised to see him run even better over it than dirt, and given that he has proven himself the best dirt horse in the world, we could see something really special. As to the Arc, it and the Ky. Derby are the 2 most widely known and prestigious races in the world.  How can one not want to try to win it?  As to Big Brown, please.  Look at his times in the Derby and Preakness.  He's nothing special.  

09 Jul 2008 6:05 PM

Is Curlin the best looking horse I've ever seen? Yes. Is he the smartest horse I've seen? Yes. I have one word that sums up Curlin. U..n...b...e..a...t...a...b...l...e

He'll beat any horse on any track at any distance. He's is the most intelligent horse I've ever seen. The powerful chestnut, is so versatile it's insane. He can get the lead, sit off it, or close from ten back. I really feel like this is going to be the greatest horse that has ever lived. When I saw the Arkansas Derby last year, I was amazed at how smart Curlin was in just his third start. If you look at his eyes and the way his ears were perked up and pinned back when  he was running in Arkansas last year, there was something truly majestic about the way he glided over the surface that day. It was flawless. For that one instant second, I saw a horse that was a true runner with unlimited potential. After that race Curlin became my favorite horse of all-time. Dropping the mighty Cigar to 2nd on my list.    

09 Jul 2008 8:14 PM

Great Blog. It was fascinating to learn about the high cliber European races. All the information and comparisons were easy to understand. I think Curlin has the versatily,ability, and heart to compete at European Group level. The only real challenege that I see is a more experianced turf horse getting the jump on him since they are great at realy running in the last furlong.

09 Jul 2008 8:55 PM

GOCURLIN:  Excuse me...Eight Belles was hardly a "one shot wonder".  Do your homework before you insert your foot (or is that your hoof?)in your mouth.

Racefan66:  Those artificial surface particulates you speak of, they could impact race fans as well, especially those who hang out at the track level.

09 Jul 2008 9:00 PM

Since Curlin is France bound,that is the second hit to the Classic division in the past few week(Heatseeker's retirement). And unless horses like Frost Giant, Mast Track, and Presious Passion turn out to be stars, I think that a filly like Zenyatta or Ginger Punch would have a chance at taking the now weak Classic division.

09 Jul 2008 9:02 PM
Blood-Horse Staff

Guys and gals,

Let's get the focus back on Curlin and the decision to run him on the turf, and in the ARC. This particular blog post is not the place to rehash the Curlin vs. Big Brown debate. I'm sure Jason Shandler would love to have that discussion over on his Breeders' Cup Chat blog. :)

Thanks, everyone!

09 Jul 2008 10:25 PM

Hope it just dies period, BC is BC.

09 Jul 2008 10:54 PM
Seattle RNF

Been on this site for years and wow what i've been missing by not reading the 'Haskin Blog'  fantastic insight, excellent writing and paints the picture all bloggers/ writers strive for.

Now- Curlin is an absolute beast and was dominate in his first test back from Dubai.  I applaud Jackson for not only racing this guy as a 4yo, but attempting such a unheard feat for the Yanks.

Hard for me to get behind Asmussen and his shenanigans, but this is a horse for the ages.

We'll see how he comes out of the Man' O War and that will give us a snap shot.

Thanks Steve!

10 Jul 2008 12:10 AM

Great article, Steve.

When I was a kid, the horse that made me a racing fan for life was Carry Back. Despite his humble breeding, the "peoples horse" became a star. He battled it out with many great runners, and actually defeated the mighty Kelso in 2 of their 6 meetings (even though it took track record both times to do it).

Anyway, his breeder/owner/trainer Jack Price was a real sportsman like Jess Jackson and tried the Arc. Despite a terrible ride by the European jockey, a bad trip, and a slow pace that did not lend itself to his come from way behind running style, he finished a respectable 10th in a 24 horse field, losing by a total of only 5 1/2 lengths.

But old Carry Back was no where near the runner that Curlin is. If any American based champion can pull off this enormously difficult task...beat the Europeans at their own game and at their own's Curlin.  

10 Jul 2008 9:11 AM
Steve Haskin

Seattle, you haven't missed anything regarding my blogs, as I only started writing them a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for the comments.

10 Jul 2008 1:30 PM

Hi Steve,

Like so many who've commented, I am really enjoying your blog on Curlin's probable bid for the Arc, the next best prep race for him

(How about 10f Arlington Million) after the Man O War, your idea for

the Irish "Champion Stakes" and talk of European Racing in general[Listing of course conditions:

Good, Firm, Soft and Yielding].

I have been particularly struck by the enthusiasm for Curlin making the switch from Dirt to Turf and the ensuing discussions regarding the idea that the 2008 BC Races (topic of your next Blog) to be run on cushion track, will be difficult to weigh in terms of past BC performances.

I echo comments made earlier by Clay, Bellwether and Karen 2, who feel strongly about the fact that any surface needs to be properly maintained.

I was at the 19 June Subcommittee Hearing on "Breeding Drugs and Breakdowns", where the simplest and most straightforward testimony on the topic of racing surfaces, came from Hall of Fame trainer,

Jack VanBerg, who said:

"As for racing surfaces, they should be a good sandy loam and maintained for soft cushion. I do not think it helps for fans to be concerned about how fast a race is run.  The safety of the horse should be the priority and not how fast the track is.  On big days, most race tracks see how fast they can get the track.  The surface should be maintained at the same depth at all times.

Jack had more to say earlier (I will email full testimony to SH) on medication and the idea that it would be in "the best interest of this grand sport and these grand equine athletes to abolish any and all medications - meaning NO RACE DAY threshold levels of Lasix, Bute, Steroids or any other medications".

Steve, my sense is that your blog is so good, we may just solve the industry problems right here!

10 Jul 2008 3:37 PM
Brian A.

 I can't wait to see Curlin race in the Man 'O' War.  If he wins they should point him towards the Arlington Million then ship him to France.

 If he stays in as a five year old, and has proved himself as a turf horse, it would be awesome to see him try for the Melbourne Cup!

 Go Curlin, knock 'em dead in the Man 'O' War!!

10 Jul 2008 6:19 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Pam. If we do solve them here, let's hope some of the powers that be are watching. Brian, they wont go to the Arlington Million because it's a cut back in distance from the Man o'War and that wont help him prepare for the Arc. They want to get him to Chantilly to prepare him for right-handed turns and then get in a prep at Longchamp in the Prix Foy to get him and Albarado used to the course.

10 Jul 2008 11:56 PM


Your last posting - assuming the horse has a credible race in the Man O War and that The Arc remains the goal - suggesting Curlin's connections may be thinking in terms of getting the horse to France to acclimate at Chantilly (considered by many as the finest training grounds in the world), with a view to running the champ in the Prix Foy, in order for horse and jockey to get used to Longchamp sounds like the best way to go. Many thanks for getting us all together. Travel Mercies and Racing Luck to all for Man O War.  

More on getting the "powers that be" to take note, after the Race.

11 Jul 2008 2:17 PM

Good luck, mighty Curlin, today at Belmont on turf! I was your greatest cheer person at the Stephen Foster June 14 - most beautiful thing I ever saw! I came down from Michigan to accomplish my dream of seeing you in person, and what a beautiful sight - stunning performance from my favorite horse at beautiful Churchill Downs - my first trip there. And beautiful photos to take home. Thank you, Steve, for your blog - great job! And thank you to Asmussen and Jess Jackson for letting us Curlin fans enjoy our wonderful champ for another year - good for the sport for sure! I'm torn about the French campaign; I see all points! Should we share him with the world at the expense of not seeing him race in the US? Hard choice!

Good luck, beautiful Curlin!



12 Jul 2008 2:08 PM


I'll be cheering you on today, big, beautiful, magnificent, mighty Curlin!!!

GO CURLIN!!!!!!!!!!


12 Jul 2008 2:48 PM

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