This sucks enough air out of the Breeders Cup to begin with, but it might be just the beginning. All along, Curlin's connections were reticent about going to the Breeders Cup this year because it's being held at Santa Anita, where they run on an artificial surface, and not dirt. There was chatter in the late summer that Curlin would skip the Breeders Cup altogether and point either for the Clark Handicap in late November or ship to Japan for their Dirt Cup. However, it had appeared that Curlin's connections had come around to running in the Breeders Cup over the last couple of weeks: they opened the door after the Jockey Club Gold Cup, they shipped him to California, and they started working him out on the track.
Now, you have to ask what the point of him running in the BC Classic would be. A victory doesn't do a helluva lot, while a loss only pokes a hole in his resume. Since the showdown with Big Brown for Horse of the Year is off, look for Curlin's owner to announce in the next day or so that they're passing to run in Japan. Taking his place as the favorite? Probably Casino Drive, who was scratched the morning of the Belmont after a hoof injury, but won his comeback race yesterday. Yes, the favorite for the race with the biggest purse in the US may be a horse making his fourth career start.