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'Horse of the Year' Curlin Returns to Churchill Downs, Awaits Decision On Future

| Churchill Downs Communications | 10/29/2008 #

Reigning "Horse of the Year" Curlin is back in familiar surroundings at Churchill Downs following a Monday flight from southern California and the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.

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North American racing's all-time earnings leader returned to the track around 5 p.m. (EDT) and was led off a van by assistant trainer Scott Blasi as trainer Steve Asmussen looked on. The chestnut colt finished fourth to European star Raven's Pass in Saturday's $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (Grade I) over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.

Asmussen said Curlin came out of his setback in good shape, but immediate plans for his future have not been set. He said no decision has been made on whether Curlin's unsuccessful bid to repeat last year's Classic victory at Monmouth Park would be the last race of the colt's stellar career. 

"Absolutely not," said Asmussen. "The only thing that has been discussed was his travel arrangements back here to Kentucky. We made it back, we'll relate where he's at now, walk him, pet on him a little while, give him a little lovin', and leave it at that."

Majority owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Farm could decide to send Curlin on to a new career as a stallion or continue with his career on the track. Asmussen is ready for to proceed with either decision.

"I have nothing but admiration for the horse," he said. "You hate to see him get beat in any way, shape or form. Mr. Jackson's quite the sportsman. He left a lot of money on the table to bring him back (to race in 2008) and he tried different things with him, like the turf in New York and the synthetic track there (at Santa Anita). He's a true sportsman. The fans wanted to see him run and Mr. Jackson allowed that to happen."

While decisions are being made on Curlin's future, the colt will get to enjoy some relaxing days in Asmussen's barn at Churchill Downs.

"Right now he's going to walk from this trip," he said. "We'll discuss what's going to happen. We could possibly put him under tack in the shed. We'll just keep him happy."

Curlin earned $255,000 for his fourth place finish in the Classic, which lifted his North American record for career earnings to $10,501,800. His career racing record stands at 11-2-2 in 16 races.