I want to see Curlin on turf again.
There, I said it. Since Jess Jackson asked, I’m going to express my opinion.
I don’t believe there is a horse running on dirt today that can defeat him, let alone make a decent race of it, so I want to see HIM challenged. I want him run on turf again here in the U.S. next, and as I see it, there are two options: the G1 Arlington Million on August 9, and the G1 Sword Dancer on August 14.
Both races have their benefits—including being “Win and You’re In” races for the BC Turf—but the Arlington Million is the superior choice. Let’s break it down:
1. As a weight-for-age event, Curlin would carry 126 in the Arlington Million, which will be under the 130 he’ll have to carry in the Arc, but possibly above what he’d be assigned for the Sword Dancer Handicap. Not a major factor, but one to be considered.
2. The Million’s 1-1/4 mile (10 furlongs) distance is more ideal for Curlin than the Sword Dancer’s 1-1/2 mile (12 furlongs). Yes, the Arc is 12 furlongs, but Curlin hasn’t yet won at that distance so let’s start with a distance he is comfortable at to get a win.
3. Arlington’s European-style turf course is perhaps more apt to come up soft (remember After Market’s scratch last year with the yielding turf?). Soft turf = soft pace. Let's see how he can handle a different pace scenario from the peculiar early speed duel he saw in the Man O'War.
4. Curlin’s jockey Robby Albarado won last year’s Million with Jambalaya, over The Tin Man and Doctor Dino. He knows the course and what it takes to win.
5. A win in the Million—worth $600,000—would put Curlin over $10 million, thus passing Cigar as all-time U.S. money winner. That achievement alone is worthy. A Sword Dancer win is “only” worth $300,000—close but no Cigar!
6. Last but by no means least—Curlin would meet a new cast of characters in the Arlington Million. Red Rocks is being pointed to the Sword Dancer, and Grand Couturier may defend his title. However, in addition to G3 Arlington Handicap winner Stream Cat and multiple G1 winner Einstein (who Curlin has defeated on dirt), European invader Archipenko is probable for the Million. Archipenko, whose most recent races include a third-place finish in the G1 Dubai Duty Free, and wins in the G1 QEII Cup in Hong Kong and the G2 Summer Mile at Ascot. Yes, his connections might be trying to avoid the best of Britain and Ireland, but his international form is stellar and a much better test than having a go at Red Rocks again.
Whether or not Curlin goes to the Arc has yet to be decided, but the turf challenge is most intriguing for fans, here and, hopefully, abroad as well.