Curlin passed Cigar to become North America's all-time earnings leader and first $10-million horse with his second consecutive victory in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on a sloppy Belmont Park track on Saturday afternoon.
Ridden by Robby Albarado, Curlin raced in midpack early as Wanderin Boy set the pace under Alan Garcia — his fractions in :24.67, :48.79, 1:13.08, and 1:36.70. Curlin ommenced his rally on the turn, swung out wide at the top of the stretch and wore down Wanderin Boy late to win by three-quarters of a length. Merchant Marine was third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up. Mambo in Seattle was fourth, followed by Ravel, Stones River, A.P. Arrow and Angliana. Time of the race on a sloppy track was 2:01.93.
The win, worth $450,000, was Curlin's 11th in 15 lifetime starts (all as a 3- and 4-year-old in 2007-08), and moved his earnings to $10,246,800, surpassing Cigar's previous record of $9,999,815.
Curlin, a 4-year-old son of Smart Strike out of Sherriff's Deputy, by Deputy Minister was bred in Kentucky by Fares Farm. He is owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and the Midnight Cry Stable of Shirley Cunningham and William Gallion, is trained by Steve Asmussen. Curlin began his career racing for Midnight Cry and was trained by Helen Pitts. An 80% interest in Curlin was purchased following his maiden win by Jackson, Satish Sanan and George Bolton, but Jackson eventually bought out those partners and now owns 80%.
There is great speculation about whether Curlin will face Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner Big Brown in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but Jackson would not commit to the race during a teleconference earlier this week. He indicated Curlin could race two more times this year, leaving the door open for the Breeders' Cup and a possible subsequent appearance in either the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in late November of the Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin race course in Japan in early December.
“As to going out to Santa Anita, we'll probably load him up, but first we'll have to get him adjusted,” Jackson said. “But it is up to him whether he likes the track and the surface. So those are concerns we still have. But we'll consider it now that we're past this hurdle. That's the next prospect for us, and we'll give it every bit of attention.”
Albarado never appeared to use the whip on Curlin, who seemed to lose ground down the backstretch, but quickly moved into contention when asked by his rider. “Robby was really comfortable down the backside,” Asmussen said. “I think he knows who he is on, and he let it sort out in front of him. He lost a little bit of position on the backside when Robby decided he didn't want to be that wide. He immediately moved up in the bridle and came into the stretch the way you wanted him to be. He looked fabulous through the stretch.”
“I can't say how proud I am to be part of what's just happened,” Asmussen said. “To make history — the all-time money-winning horse in North America — it's very special. The job that (assistant) Scott Blasi and (exercise rider) Carmen Rosas have done with him on a day-to-day basis enabled him to maintain the consistency. For him to be able to carry the weight of expectation, I'm very proud.”
The 3-year-old Kingmambo colt Mambo in Seattle, a narrowly beaten second in the Travers Stakes to Colonel John, was never a factor in the Gold Cup.
Results from Saturday's other major Breeders' Cup prep races from Belmont Park, Turfway Park, Oak Tree at Santa Anita and Hawthorne. Updates from each race as they are run.
KENTUCKY CUP JUVENILE FILLIES (Turfway Park): Sugar Mom made a late run in the two-turn mile race to make it three straight wins on synthetic tracks for the owner-trainer combination of Frank Calabrese and Wayne Catalano. First stakes win for daughter of Monarchos out of Plenty of Sugar, by Ascot Knight. Winless in first three starts at Churchill Downs, including her last for a maiden claiming tag of $30,000. Complicity finished second, a length back, with Saxxy Rose Lee third and favored Bold Union tiring to be fourth. Time for the mile was 1:37.86.
KENTUCKY CUP SPRINT (Turfway Park): Fatal Bullet completely dominated his rivals as the 6-5 favorite, setting fast fractions and pulling away in the stretch for an impressive7 3/4-length victory in track-record time 1:08.03 for six furlongs on Polytrack. This was the seventh win in 10 starts for 3-year-old Red Bullet gelding out of Sararegal, by Regal Classic. Owned by Bear Stables and trained by Canadian Reade Baker, Fatal Bullet was coming off stakes victories on Polytrack at Woodbine and Tapeta track at Presque Isle Downs. Silver Sword and No Advantage finished second and third, respectively. Baker said it's on to the Breeders' Cup Sprint for Fatal Bullet.
KENTUCKY CUP JUVENILE (Turfway Park): West Side Bernie rallied into the stretch and pulled away by three lengths under Stewart Elliott. The 2-year-old by Bernstein out of Time Honored, by Gilded Time, is unbeaten in two starts for trainer Kelly Breen and owners Lori and George Hall, having broken his maiden by 1 ½ lengths at Monmouth Park Aug. 28. He covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.22 as the 9-5 favorite, with Retap and Gresham finishing second and third.
KENTUCKY CUP DISTAFF (Turfway): Getting their second stakes win of the day, Bear Stable, trainer Reade Baker and jockey Eurico Da Silva teamed up for a four-length victory with Bear Now (Tiznow–Controlled, by In Excess), who sat just off the pace of Devil House, moved to the lead at the head of the stretch and drew off by daylight. Unforgotten rallied late for second, with Devil House holding third. Bear Now, eighth in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff, has won three of six starts this year, her two previous wins coming on Woodbine's Polytrack. She covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.37. Baker said he would give Bear Now another chance in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (formerly the Distaff).
KENTUCKY CUP CLASSIC (Turfway): Well-traveled Zanjero pulled away in the final furlong to win the Kentucky Cup Classic by 1 1/2 lengths under Shaun Bridgmohan. Trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Zanjero was winning for the sixth time in 18 starts. He is a 4-year-old by Cherokee Run out of Checkered Flag, by A.P. Indy. Extreme Supreme finished second, followed by Canela and 8-5 favorite, Honest Man. Time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:49.27. Owner Ron Winchell said Zanjero will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Oct. 25.
BELDAME (Belmont Park): Godolphin's Cocoa Beach wore down odds-on favorite Ginger Punch, the reigning Eclipse Award-winning older filly and mare to make it two straight in the U.S., following an easy win in the ungraded Love Sign Stakes at Saratoga. The 4-year-old Chilean-bred daughter of Doneraile Court out of Visionera, by Edgy Diplomat, raced four times in Dubai over the winter, including a third-place showing in UAE Derby, after beginning career unbeaten in four starts in native Chile. She is trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Ginger Punch was second, beaten a half length, after setting fractions of :24.61, :48.18, :1:12.26; and 1:36.76. Final time was 1:49.50 on a sloppy track.
FLOWER BOWL INVITATIONAL STAKES (Belmont): Alan Garcia coaxed Dynaforce to a four-length wire-to-wire victory over heavily favored Mauralakana, who was gunning for her fifth straight win. The 5-year-old daughter of Dynaformer was winning on U.S. soil for the first time in four starts after racing in France for owner-breeder John Chandler.Mauralakana made a bold early run going into the far turn under Kent Desormeaux, but the Bill Mott-trained Dynaforce had too much in reserve, winning by daylight after setting fractions of :26.23, :52.87, 1:19.22 and 1:43.45. Comminque was third in the four-horse field. Time for 1 ¼ miles was 2:07.59 on a yielding track.
VOSBURGH (Belmont): Black Seventeen shipped in from California for trainer Brian Koriner to score a major upset over defending champion Fabulous Strike. The 4-year-old son of Is It True out of Fuzzy Navel, by Strike the Anvil, won the Carry Back Stakes at Calder in July for his only previous stakes win. Black Seventeen raced just behind a three horse duel (Fabulous Strike, J Be K, First Defence), moved to the lead in the stretch, and overtook Fabulous Strike late. Kokiak Kowboy rallied late to get third.
JOE HIRSCH TURF CLASSIC INVITATIONAL (Belmont): Alan Garcia guided Grand Couturier to a 10 1/4-length victory, his second Grade 1 turf triumph in a row for trainer Robert Ribaudo and owner Marc Keller. The 5-year-old son of Grand Lodge out of Lady Eigar, by Sadler's Wells, comes off a victory in the Sword Dancer over Better Talk Now Aug. 16 at Saratoga. Grand Couturier won last year's Sword Dancer and then finished sixth behind English Channel in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Turf. Interpation edged Summer Patriot for second. Kent Desormeaux, aboard Interpation, filed a complaint against the winner alleging interference on the turn, but it was not allowed. Precious Passion set the pace in the Hirsch, with slow fractions of :24.97, :50.52, 1:16.84, and 1:42.35 for the opening mile of the 1 1/2-mile event. Strike a Deal took a brief lead with a quarter mile to go, the 1 1/4 miles clocked in 2:09.07, but Grand Couturier charged past to win in hand, getting the distance on yielding turf in 2:34.84.
CLEMENT L. HIRSCH MEMORIAL TURF INVITATIONAL STAKES (Oak Tree at Santa Anita): Making just his second start of the year, Peachtree Stable's Red Giant (by Giant's Causeway) set a new track and world record of 1:57.16 for 1 1/4 miles on the Santa Anita turf while edging Out of Control by a head. Transduction Gold was third. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Red Giant was winning for the sixth time in 12 starts. Last year he won the Virginia Derby and was second in the Secretariat Stakes. In his 2008 debut at Saratoga, Red Giant took the Fourstardave by a neck Aug. 3.
LADY'S SECRET (Oak Tree at Santa Anita): Zenyatta tracked from last in the four-horse field under Mike Baze, swung wide into the stretch and pulled away down the stretch under a hand ride to win by 3 1/2 lengths — her eighth straight without a defeat. Pacesetter Hystericalady was second, with Santa Teresita third. The daughter of Street Cry out of Vertigineux out of Kris S, is trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss. She was odds-on to win her sixth consecutive graded stakes and eighth overall and will be a solid choice in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic Oct. 24 at Santa Anita. Time for the 1 1/16 miles on the new Pro-Ride synthetic track was 1:40.30.
ANCIENT TITLE STAKES (Oak Tree at Santa Anita): Cost of Freedom made the first run under Tyler Baze, getting the lead at the top of the stretch, and then holding off the late charge of 9-10 favorite, Street Boss, to win by a half-length in 1:07.53 for six furlongs (fractions were :21.27, :43.57, :55.50) . In Summation was third. Cost of Freedom was a $50,000 claim by Gary and Cecil Barber in late July at Del Mar. Formerly owned by Harris Farms and trained by Carla Gaines, he is now under the care of John Sadler. A 5-year-old California-bred gelding by Cee's Tizzy out of Freedom Dance, by Moscow Ballet, Cost of Freedom has now won six of 10 starts, but the Ancient Title was his first stakes victory.
OAK LEAF STAKES (Oak Tree at Santa Anita): Making her 4-5 odds look generous, Stardom Bound overwhelmed her 11 2-year-old filly rivals, rallying from far off the pace to win by 3 1/2 lengths over pacesetter Palacio de Amor. The gray daughter of first-crop sire Tapit (out of My White Corvette, by Tarr Road) broke behind the field and was allowed to settle near the back of the pack by Mike Smith as Palacio de Amor set fractions of :23.32, :46.37, 1:10.61 and 1:35.90 for the opening mile. Stardom Bound swung widest of all into the stretch and easily moved to the lead under a hand ride, completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.44. Oro Blanco was third. The winner, owned by Charles Cono and trained by Christopher Paasch, broke her maiden in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante after running second in a maiden race and second in the Sorrento Stakes — all at Del Mar. The Oak Leaf was her first race around two turns.
YELLOW RIBBON STAKES (Oak Tree at Santa Anita): John Velazquez registered career win No. 3,999 aboard Wait a While for Arindel Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher, racing from just off the pace, taking command in mid-stretch and holding Vacare at sway to win by about three-quarters of a length. Black Mamba was a fast-closing third. Final time for the 1 1/4 miles on firm turf was 1:59.16 after fractions of :24.53, :47.83, 1:12.31, and 1:35.63. Longshot Live Life showed the way for the first six furlongs, then gave way to Solva, Velazquez used Wait a While's good tactical speed to overcome the No. 10 post position, and raced just off the lead before moving to the front. This was the 12th win in 23 starts and pushed Wait a While (a 5-year-old by Maria's Mon, out of Flirtatious, by A.P. Indy) over the $2-million mark in career earnings. It Wait a While's first Grade 1 victory since taking the Yellow Ribbon in 2006.
GOODWOOD (Oak Tree at Santa Anita): Using new off-the-pace tactics, Aaron Gryder guided7-10 favorite Well Armed to a one-length victory over Tiago. Rating in third position most of the way as Mast Track and Informed volleyed for the lead, Well Armed swung to the outside at the head of the stretch, drifted out with a furlong to run, but switched leads and kept to his task to get the win for trainer Eoin Harty. Final time was 1:47.11 for the 1 1/8 miles. Albertus Maximus finished third.It was the sixth victory in 19 starts for Well Armed, and his first in a Grade 1 race. He won the San Antonio and San Diego Handicaps (both Grade 2) going wire to wire earlier this year. Well Armed is a 5-year-old gelded son of Tiznow out of Well Dressed, by Notebook. Harty said Well Armed would be pointed for the Breeders' Cup Classic, along with another WinStar runner in his barn, Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes winner Colonel John.
HAWTHORNE GOLD CUP (Hawthorne): Richard Migliore gave Team Valor's Fairbanks a perfect trip in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup, racing just off the pace, moving between horses on the turn for home, and drawing away down the stretch for an easy 2 3/4-length victory as teh 7-10 favorite. Magna Graduate finished second, with Wayzata Bay third Fairbanks (by Giant's Causeway out of Alaska Queen, by Time for a Change), was winning for the sixth time in 18 starts. He is trained by Todd Pletcher.
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