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Curlin Tries Turf in Man O’ War

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 4/26/2012 11:02:10 AM

Racebook Betting: the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Man O' War Stakes

Team Curlin has mapped out a schedule to capture Europe’s most prestigious horse race – the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and the quest begins Saturday in The Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont. No U.S.-based horse has ever won the Arc, so this plan is certainly an ambitious one. Assuming that 2007 Horse-of-the-Year Curlin takes to the lawn and wins the Man O’ War, he’ll depart for France soon thereafter and begin his preparations for the Arc, to be run at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris on October 5th.

Curlin has been given no easy task in his grass debut. He’ll be facing a pair of Breeders’ Cup Turf winners in grizzled veteran Better Talk Now and European invader Red Rocks, who won the BC Turf in 2004 and 2006 respectively. The 9-year-old Better Talk Now encountered heavy traffic in his latest start, finishing 5th by 2 ¼ lengths in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont. He’s been training super according to conditioner Graham Motion. Red Rocks split the field in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom last out, finishing 6th in an 11-horse field on a course he doesn’t care for. He’ll be racing with blinkers for the first time on Saturday. Grand Couturier and Sudan are the other G1 winners in this compact field of seven. Grand Couturier captured the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga last August, and Sudan annexed the Gran Premio di Milano at San Siro in Italy last June, prior to his arrival stateside. He has been campaigning for trainer Bobby Frankel on the West Coast throughout 2008. Both Sudan and Better Talk Now passed on last weekend’s Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park to make this event.

There is no question as to Curlin’s fitness…he’s in tremendous form, having just toyed with his foes in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on June 14th. The overriding question in this race is whether he’s the same horse on grass. He worked seven furlongs on the Churchill Downs grass course on July 1st with regular rider Robby Albarado aboard, and his connections were delighted with the way he handled the surface. Certainly he’s bred to handle the grass, as his sire Smart Strike has produced a number of turf winners, including 2007 Champion turf horse English Channel. But you never know for sure until they’re thrown into the heat of battle.

Curlin’s morning-line odds are listed at 3-5. He’s no bargain at that price, but if he proves equally adept on grass as on dirt, they’ll be running for second money. Better Talk Now is listed at 6-1 and Red Rocks is at 5-1…not bad if you like either of those proven turfers. Whichever way you see it, play the race at the betonline.com Racebook, which features full track odds and a generous rebate program.

Pete Mitchell has been handicapping horses since his teenage years. He has been a professional horse player for many years, and came to betonline.com’s attention through multiple referrals from industry insiders/sportsbook owners. Pete is revered for his horse handicapping opinion and industry experts acknowledge his impressive career winning record. Thoughts or questions?

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