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Curlin doesn't mind a little East Coast slopFrom the (welcome) coverage it is receiving, it might seem that Curlin’s Jockey Club Gold Cup bid is the only race taking place this weekend when in fact it’s ridiculously busy (rather like my entire week this week).

Perhaps the most competitive race this weekend will be the Beldame; while Ginger Punch towers over the field, it’s no walkoverUnbridled Belle and Lemon Drop Mom are both in the mix (and let’s recall how close it was the last time Ginger Punch faced Lemon Drop Mom), but I am particularly intrigued by Cocoa Beach and Leah’s Secret. Cocoa Beach was 3-year-old champion filly in Chile last year and she has been facing tough (and occasionally male) competition in Dubai and elsewhere. Godolphin may not be much of a powerhouse compared to Ballydoyle this year, but if they do have a horse to watch this year, she may be it. Leah’s Secret has always been on the bubble with the top-flight mares; nonetheless, I’m keeping an eye on her.

Nor is Curlin the only Horse of the Year contender running this weekend; Zenyatta is also stepping up to the plate. While her participation in the Filly & Mare Classic (née Distaff) seems a foregone conclusion (even though I would rather see her in the ‘Classic’ Classic, depending on which Euros ship over), it would be nice if she can keep her unbeaten streak alive in this weekend’s Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita. The obvious trifecta would seem to be ZenyattaHystericaladySanta Teresita, but you never know. Nevertheless, it would have been more interesting to see her race played up as a west coast counterpart to Curlin’s Belmont star turn.

Back at Belmont, Wait a While is back for another shot at the Yellow Ribbon. How many former 3-year-old champions are still in training at 5 these days? That’s only one great reason to watch her race — if you happen to get TVG.

Zenyatta is not the only star at Santa Anita either; Street Boss is the favorite in the Ancient Title, and it seems this is a ‘last chance to see‘ before the Breeders’ Cup and retirement — he’s off to become a Darley stallion. (Apparently it was not enough to own both Street Cry and Street Sense). While he’s made his mark as a sprinter, I would prefer to see him in the Classic come Breeders’ Cup time — although given that it’s his final race, it hardly seems to matter.

Before we (finally) get to Curlin, it seems the European press has latched on to Jerry Bailey’s comments regarding whether Henrythenavigator would stay the Classic distance, or whether he’s more suited to the Mile (indeed, it is his only proven distance). He’s being considered for both races, but things will likely become clearer after he meets Tamayuz and Raven’s Pass on Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. His stablemate, Duke of Marmalade, is apparently still possible for the Classic, but he is out of the Breeders’ Cup prep race at Great Leighs. Whether he takes on Zarkava in the Arc or heads to California (or both) is still up in the air. In any event, Ballydoyle will have to leave their team tactics at home.

There is still more action stateside this weekend, but as it’s been a crazy week at work, we’ll have to move swiftly on to Curlin in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The Baltimore Sun has articles in favor of and against wanting to see him break native son Cigar’s all-time earnings record Saturday (which you can watch live on ESPNEWS). Beyond the race, however, there is still the legal sideshow going on over his minority owners. The latest move to sell their interest by sealed bid merited this response from Jess Jackson’s attorney:

A decision to retire the 4-year-old son of Smart Strike may hinge on the outcome of the sealed-bid process, according to courtroom discussion.

“My clients, as the 80% owners, are being infringed upon because of problems with ongoing litigation,” Richard Getty, an attorney representing Stonestreet Stables, argued before Crittenden. “My client has already been harmed by not already divesting this interest. The large farms are not interested.”

“Mr. Jackson is saying we may race the horse next year, because we are forced to,” Getty said, terming Midnight Cry Stable’s ongoing presence as an “albatross” at one point. “We would love to be rid of this interest.”

One presumes this will not be the position presented to the public on Saturday — but I digress.

While some are complaining there isn’t much competition for Curlin in the race, I am looking forward to seeing more steady improvement from Mambo in Seattle; I don’t expect him to win (for we know Curlin doesn’t mind the slop, judging from last year’s Classic victory), but he may make Curlin work for it. If Curlin does indeed go to the Classic, such a challenge should keep him tuned up for the big day. If you are going, you may need to use your commemorative t-shirt as an umbrella…

3 comments to Goldenhooves

  • Anonymous

    I’m much more excited to watch Zenyatta’s race than Curlin’s. Like you, hoping to see great improvemnt and a good run from Mambo in Seattle.

  • Teresa

    Would that we’d see Wait A While at Belmont tomorrow!

    And why was Leah’s Secret taken away from Helen Pitts? Was she sold?

  • Superfecta

    I had not realized Leah’s Secret had been moved – will have to do some digging!

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