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Aug 15, 2008

Let's settle arguments on the track

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor, SPORTS NETWORK

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Trash talk is not a common feature in horse racing. The humans involved in the Sport of Kings don't usually bad- mouth the other people in the sport. They talk about their horses and find reasons, respectfully, why they won or lost a particular race.

Trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. came out after his horse Big Brown won the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park with comments against 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin. Dutrow, who was bombastic leading into the Belmont Stakes, more than implied that Big Brown was superior to Curlin based on the fact that Curlin lost last year's Kentucky Derby and failed in the Belmont Stakes to a filly.

Jess Jackson, majority owner of Curlin, kept his cool and on Wednesday offered to donate $50,000 to a charity if Big Brown meets Curlin in the upcoming $500,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on August 30. Word has come that this year's leading three-year-old will run against older thoroughbreds at Saratoga, but will wait for the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on October 25.

"Big Brown's camp recent remarks about Curlin inspired me to offer an incentive to get these two great horses to race at the legendary track at the Spa," said Jackson. "Both horses are eligible for this race and both have plenty of time to prepare for what would be thoroughbred racing at its very best and in the name of a great cause."

Jackson now wants the owners of Big Brown to consider taking Curlin on in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 27 at Belmont Park.

"I would ask Big Brown's camp to consider the prestigious $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Park on September 27 as an option," Jackson said. "It's a prestigious, prized race on a natural dirt surface at one of the great tracks in the world. Big Brown is a champion thoroughbred and, most certainly, would be prepared to race at the end of September. Perhaps we could work together to get the Breeder's Cup to add an incentive to the purse so that a specific charity would get a bigger slice of the pie."

The winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup gains automatic entry into the 1 1/4 mile Classic. Rumors are circulating that Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen will hold out Curlin from this year's Breeders' Cup Classic because it will be run on a synthetic surface at Santa Anita.

"As to the Breeder's Cup," stated Jackson, "it is not part of my current plan for Curlin. I felt it was the sporting thing to do to announce Curlin's schedule to give fair notice to anyone looking to compete against the reigning Horse of the Year this fall.

"Our plan is to focus on the Woodward, look to the Jockey Cup Gold Cup, hopefully with Big Brown in the field, and review our plans after that. Ultimately, all of us have to do what is in the best interest of our horse. I wish Big Brown well and hope Curlin has the opportunity to compete against him. It certainly would help the industry and please the fans of both of these majestic horses."

With two months to go until the Breeders' Cup races, we all hope that Jackson changes his mind and gives the fans an opportunity to see Curlin run in the Classic. The four-year-old has demonstrated he runs well on turf and should be able to make the transition to a synthetic surface.

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