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Nov 07, 2008

=== 2008 Horse of the Year down to two ===

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia,  PA (Sports  Network) - Things didn't quite go the way they were
supposed  to in  the Breeders'  Cup Classic.  Curlin was  supposed to  win the
Classic and secure his second Horse of the Year title.

With  a  quarter-mile to run the  pre-written script was being followed to the
letter.  Jockey  Robby Albarado had  Curlin moving on  the outside and the two
took  the lead at the top of the stretch. In mid-stretch Curlin was on his way
to winning his second $5 million Classic and wrap up Horse of the Year honors.

With  200 yards  to go Curlin tired  and Raven's Pass, who simply followed the
favorite's path into the stretch, took the lead and won by a little under two-
lengths. Curlin faded to fourth in the 12 horse field.

"With  Curlin, nothing  is a consolation," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "We're
just  proud of  who he is. He's  the first North American-based horse over $10
million and he's just had a remarkable run.

"Watching the race first time by, I was very concerned. It kind of looked like
the  Man  o' War.  He was off  the bridle.  Very concerned. I  think he had to
struggle  to get where  he was, the first time by. When he went under the wire
the  first  time, he  was further back  and Robby was  nudging him forward. He
works harder to go over it than he works to go over the dirt."

Because  of that  fourth place finish by Curlin, the undefeated filly Zenyatta
could  be voted  Horse of the Year.  In the final NTRA National Poll, Zenyatta
was first with 170 points to 158 for Curlin. The filly received 11 first place
votes and Curlin got seven.

"It's  quite an accomplishment  to go all year undefeated, and to step up each
time,  four of them  in Grade 1, like she did," said trainer John Shirreffs of
the four-year-old filly, unbeaten in nine starts, seven of them this year. "In
the vote, she would have to be seriously considered for that."

The major problem I have with Zenyatta, as opposed to Curlin, is the fact that
the  filly  has only raced once  outside of the southern California region.
Curlin has  been overseas, Kentucky  and New York this year, and was clearly
the best thoroughbred, until Saturday.

When  the Eclipse Awards are announced in January, Curlin will receive one for
champion  older  male and Zenyatta  will be crowned  top older female horse. I
wouldn't  be surprised if there is a tie for Horse of the Year, as long as one
of those horses is Curlin.

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