07/14/2008 12:00AM

Asmussen: 'Everything's open' for Curlin's next


Beaten, but ready to race another day. That was the status of Curlin two days after his second-place finish in his turf debut Saturday at Belmont Park in the Man o' War Stakes. But where and when that next race will come remains open, trainer Steve Asmussen said.

Curlin shipped to New York Thursday from Churchill Downs. The trip went fine, except that Curlin lost by two lengths to Red Rocks in the Man o' War, and in so doing called into question his connections' hopes of shipping to France with the goal of running this fall in the Prix de l'Arc d'Triomphe, among the world's most prestigious races.

"We're very pleased with how he came out of the race," Asmussen said Monday.

Curlin was 2-5 in the Man o' War. He hit the gate at the start, and at the first call raced 15 lengths behind a pair of dueling leaders who were setting a hectic pace. He moved up on the far turn, but Red Rocks moved before him, and Curlin never really looked like he would run the winner down. He was beaten two lengths, a half-length clear of fast-closing Better Talk Now. "I thought he ran a very good but not great race," Asmussen said. "That wasn't his best race."

Asmussen averred that the race's 11-furlong distance wasn't a factor and said that Curlin wasn't going as well over the course as Asmussen had hoped.

"I'd have liked to have seen him carrying Robby [Albarado] a little better through the middle of the race," he said.

Curlin will have a timed workout next Monday over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga, but it won't be until after he works a second time that plans for his next start will firm up.

"I just want to keep him in the routine," said Asmussen. "The first breeze will let him tell us how he's feeling. The second one will help us decide what we should do."

Asked what races might be considered, Asmussen said, "Everything's open."

If Curlin's connections decide to return him to dirt, there are not many immediate suitable options. The Whitney, Saratoga's top handicap race, is on July 26. The next older-horse dirt race in New York is the Woodward on Aug. 30. If Curlin were to race on turf but not ship overseas, the Aug. 9 Arlington Million could work. And if his connections want a synthetic-track attempt, there is the Aug.o24 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.