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Trainer says Curlin has room to run from the No. 9 post

October 22, 2008|Pete Thomas and Bill Dwyre | Thomas and Dwyre are Times staff writers.

Defending Breeders' Cup Classic champion Curlin on Tuesday was made the 7-5 favorite and drew the No. 9 post position for Saturday's marquee race.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said the spot should allow the reigning horse of the year plenty of running room toward the first turn in the 1 1/4 -mile race.

"Hopefully this will be the perfect spot for him," Asmussen said. Jockey Robby Albarado "should be confident enough to get him in position early."

Decent positioning aside, there looms a larger question: Will Curlin respond favorably to the synthetic surface at Santa Anita?

Curlin has prepped well since arriving Sept. 28. In fact, he was flown to Southern California early so he could get accustomed to the Pro-Ride surface. But Asmussen acknowledged that "a high percentage" of horses that train well on synthetic tracks do not race well on them.

Student Council, Asmussen's other horse in the $5-million Classic, is 20-1. Raven's Pass, trained by John Gosden, has the second-lowest odds at 6-1.

Colonel John, winner of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in his last race, is 20-1.

Trainer Eoin Harty said afterward he was surprised by such high odds placed before the 3-year-old son of Tiznow. Colonel John, however, has an unfavorable No. 11 post position.


Zenyatta odds

In Friday afternoon's $2-million Ladies' Classic, Zenyatta was listed at 3-5 and drew the No. 1 position. Trainer John Shirreffs said he was not overly concerned about the inside spot, given the unbeaten filly charges from off the pace.


Race shift

Asmussen, wanting to "spread out our chances," has pulled Pyro out of the Classic and will instead run the 3-year-old colt in Saturday's Dirt Mile.

Pyro, in his only previous start on a synthetic surface, was 11th out of 12 horses in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., on April 12.


Mast Track

Mast Track is back on track. A day after trainer Bobby Frankel said his participation "wasn't meant to be" because of what was described as a quarter crack on his right front hoof. Frankel said the largely superficial crack has been patched and entered the horse in the Dirt Mile.

He galloped 1 1/4 miles Tuesday morning and Frankel explained, "He doesn't know he has a quarter crack."

Mast Track is 6-1.


Hard times

Breeders' Cup and Santa Anita officials anticipate the tough economy to cut into attendance for the 25th anniversary of the sport's marquee event.

"We understand what is going on and we have realistic expectations," said Peter Land, chief marketing officer for the Breeders' Cup. "We would be fine with 45,000 to 50,000, especially on Friday, and everybody having a great time."

There are about 21,000 seats in the grandstand and prices range from $100 per seat for both days to $1,200. The wild card is general admission, which can be virtually unlimited. General admission is $20 a day. General parking is $10 a day.

There is ample space along the rail and in the infield for general admission spectators, but no seats. The east half of the infield has been reserved for 14 companies, which purchased tented areas for $25,000.


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