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Oct 03, 2008

Curlin eclipses Cigar with second Jockey Club Gold Cup victory



Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin became thoroughbred racing's first $10 million horse by winning Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. The $450,000 winner's check brings Curlin's lifetime earnings to $10,246,800, surpassing Cigar's record of $9,999,815.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Curlin became the ninth horse to win back-to-back runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Since his 2007 victory he has won the Breeders' Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster and Woodward Handicaps. His lone loss during this time was on the turf in the Man o' War Stakes.

"It's not about the money, it's about his place in history," said majority owner Jess Jackson. "I think Curlin has already proven he's one of the best and I think one of the best in the last half-century, if not the century. That's just an owner's selfish view of the horse he loves, but that's the way I feel. It's an honor just to be included with horses like Cigar."

Curlin was ridden by Robby Albarado, who has been aboard the champion for every start except the colt's first. The four-year-old settled into fifth in the Gold Cup, just a few lengths behind pacesetter Wanderin Boy.

Up the backstretch Wanderin Boy held the lead, followed by Merchant Marine, Ravel, A. P. Arrow and Curlin. Around the turn for home Curlin moved on the outside to engage Wanderin Boy and Merchant Marine.

Coming off the final turn, three-wide, Curlin drew even with Wanderin Boy as Merchant Marine moved to the inside. Curlin assumed the lead inside the furlong-pole and went on to post a three-quarter length win over Wanderin Boy.

The win gives Curlin automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Classic through the "Win and You're in" program.

Merchant Marine finished third in the 1 1/4 mile race, followed by 4-1 second pick Mambo in Seattle, Ravel, Stones River, A. P. Arrow and Angliana. Timber Reserve was scratched to reduce the field to eight.

The time for the Jockey Club Gold Cup on a sloppy track was 2:01.93.

"Curlin is everything a racehorse should be," said Neil Howard, who trains Mambo in Seattle and who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2003 with Mineshaft. "I told someone that in order to beat him, you have to hope he gets up on the wrong side of the bed."

Curlin, sent off as the 2-5 favorite, returned $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10. Wanderin Boy paid $4.20 and $3.70, and Merchant Marine paid $5.70 to show.

Curlin has won eight of his last nine starts, and overall 11 of 15. In the first part of 2007 he won the Arkansas Derby and Preakness Stakes. The colt was third to Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby, second in the Belmont Stakes to Rags to Riches and behind Any Given Saturday in the Haskell Invitational.

Jackson and Asmussen have not reached a decision on whether Curlin will run in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on October 25.

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