Curlin makes turf debut on Saturday

Kentucky Derby hopeful Curlin nibbles at the hand of hot walker Juan Gonzales as he gets a bath outside Barn 38 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Monday, April 30, 2007. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

NEW YORK (AP) - Horse of the Year Curlin takes the first step
Saturday on a journey that could carry him all the way to France.

Curlin is set for his turf debut in the $500,000 Man o' War
Stakes at Belmont Park. If the 4-year-old runs well on the grass,
majority owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen plan to send
the colt to Paris for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on
Oct. 5.

It would be a historic trip, with Curlin bidding to become the
first horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic and Europe's premier

"The perfect plan for me, for Curlin and for everybody
associated with him is to first establish his level of quality on
the turf in the Man o'War, and not get ahead of ourselves,"
Asmussen said. "If he can compete at his level on the turf and we
get the race that we expect, we will map out how to win the Arc
with him. If we establish that he's as good a horse on the turf as
he is on the dirt, then we will get him over there, get him
relaxed, comfortable and confident, and doing right."

Curlin drew post seven, the outside spot, in the Man o' War. The
race will provide a solid challenge as the field contains two
Breeders' Cup Turf winners in Better Talk Now (2004) and Red Rocks

Curlin, the Preakness Stakes winner, has been absolutely
dominant on dirt, having won five straight including the Breeders'
Cup Classic at Monmouth Park last year and the Dubai World Cup in
March. This challenge is about carving a unique place in racing

"This is the horse's legacy," Asmussen said. "I believe
international racing is going to be very strong in the future. I
want Curlin to be in the forefront of that movement. What we would
like to get done is something that no one has done before."

The field for the 1 3-8 miles Man o' War, in post position
order, is Better Talk Now (Ramon Dominguez, 6-1), Grand Couturier
(Calvin Borel, 10-1), Mission Approved (David Cohen, 20-1), True
Cause (Rajiv Maragh, 12-1), Sudan (John Velazquez, 15-1), Red Rocks
(Javier Castellano, 5-1) and Curlin (Robby Albarado, 3-5).

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)