Curlin displays Classic credentials

A beaten odds-on favourite in both the weekend's key US trials for the Breeders' Cup Classic, the $5m finale to the $23m meeting in New Jersey later this month, was not punter-friendly on the day. But what the results of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Kentucky Cup did do was set up a far more open and intriguing market for the big one than might have been expected. With victories on Sunday and Saturday, three-year-olds Curlin and Hard Spun have thrown hats in the ring alongside their contemporary Street Sense and four-year-old Lawyer Ron.

The victory of Curlin, who beat 7-10 shot Lawyer Ron in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, was the eyecatcher. The winning distance was only a neck, but it was an emphatic neck. The massive, powerful chestnut's relentless surge to cut down Lawyer Ron – on a Grade One hat-trick – never looked like failing and may be a reflection of the roll of his career.

The son of Smart Strike ran third to Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby on only his fourth start, beat the Churchill Downs hero a head in the Preakness, and was himself pipped in a photo in the third Triple Crown leg, the Belmont Stakes. He is, if you like, the Stateside version of Peeping Fawn, an individual unraced at two, given time to develop into a monster frame, and a revelation in progress to the top.

Sunday night's 10-furlong contest was his first try against older horses, after an eight-week lay-off. Lawyer Ron, always handy, went clear at the head of the straight, but has not won beyond nine furlongs and Curlin, brought wide, gets every yard of the trip they will face in the Classic. "I think he's an outstanding horse," said trainer Steve Asmussen, "I think he's proved that today."

At Turfway Park in Kentucky, Street Sense started 4-5 to confirm his superiority over old rival Hard Spun – second in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness – but failed by a length and a quarter after a tactical battle. Slow early fractions and the winner's favoured Polytrack surface did not help the favourite, who tried gallantly but vainly to catch Hard Spun when he kicked in the straight under an excellent ride from Mario Pino.

"He had heard about this match and was ready to get it on," said the Danzig colt's trainer, Larry Jones. "This should set him up perfectly for the Breeders' Cup."

Carl Nafzger, handler of Street Sense, was gracious in defeat. "It was up to him at the head of the lane to get by Hard Spun," he said, "but he just outran us. We were right there and we got beat; that's horseracing, no excuses. But we're ready for next time."

Curlin and Lawyer Ron are now vying for favouritism for the Monmouth Park showpiece at 4-1, with Street Sense and Lawyer Ron's three-year-old stablemate Any Given Saturday, who beat Hard Spun and Curlin in August, next at 5-1 and Hard Spun 10-1. "We'll all meet again in a month," added Asmussen, "and a lot of honours will be decided."

One who will no longer be involved in the Classic is the Godolphin colourbearer Discreet Cat, only third on his long-awaited comeback after illness in the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont on Sunday night. A six-furlong Grade One sprint against specialist older speedsters was an ambitious ask for the colt, whose unbeaten run came to an abrupt end when he was last in the Dubai World Cup in March, and although left standing by runaway winner Fabulous Strike, was not disgraced.

But his sights are likely to be lowered at Monmouth Park, to the Grade Two Dirt Mile, one of the three new additions to the Breeders' Cup card, over two days for the first time this year.

"He got tired, and the distance was too short," said his trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, "but I am sure he will improve. He gave a good blow afterwards and further will suit him better."

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London