10/29/2007 11:00PM

Curlin back home on regular routine

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - Curlin, the romping winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, is back where he has been for most of the year - in the Steve Asmussen stable at Churchill Downs - but how long he will remain there has not yet been determined.

Curlin returned to Churchill on Monday after being flown via charter from Monmouth Park in New Jersey, where on Saturday he all but clinched 2007 Horse of the Year honors by winning the $5 million BC Classic by 4 1/2 lengths. Asmussen said Tuesday that none of the four ownership entities in Curlin has said "a single word to me about" what he is supposed to do with the colt.

"I'm just going to take him back to the track Thursday morning and let him down slowly," he said. "He'll probably gallop a little, same as always. Obviously, we don't want to let him get hurt or anything."

Curlin is owned by the partnership of Stonestreet Stables (Jess Jackson), Padua Stables (Satish Sanan), George Bolton, and Midnight Cry Stable (William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr.). Gallion and Cunningham, who owned the colt and sold a reported 80 percent interest to the other partners earlier this year, have been incarcerated since late August in Boone County, Ky., on charges that they defrauded clients out of some $62 million in their roles as attorneys in a highly publicized case involving the banned diet medication, fen-phen.

The situation involving Gallion and Cunningham is problematic in regard to the partnership reaching a decision on whether Curlin will race in 2008 or be retired to stud, but a source close to one of the partners said Tuesday that a meeting will be held among the owners within a week or so to attempt to come to a resolution.

Curlin spent about three months at Churchill before leaving in July for New York. After winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in early October, the colt returned to Kentucky but trained over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland until being shipped to Monmouth several days before the Classic.

Must-see runner on Thursday

On any given weekday at Churchill, a third-level allowance sprint serving as the feature race might be a humdrum affair. But one horse stands out in just such a spot Thursday, and although he doesn't have to win, he certainly has the most exotic background of any of the eight scheduled starters.

Storm Marcopolo, an Argentine-bred on a seven-race win streak, will make his North American debut in the ninth of 10 races, a $55,000 allowance at six furlongs. Michael Paulson purchased the 4-year-old colt for an undisclosed sum several months ago, and trainer Ken McPeek said Tuesday that the colt "has trained like he could be any kind."

McPeek, who in recent years has made frequent trips to South America to purchase horses, said he watched Storm Marcopolo in mid-May, before the colt won what he described as the Argentine version of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a Group 1 race called the Estrellas, in late June.

Although conventional wisdom says to wait roughly six months before running a South American horse here, McPeek said, "he's done everything so easy, and we've really worked hard at slowing him down, but my better judgment says it's time to go ahead and try him."

If Storm Marcopolo runs well Thursday, McPeek said, the colt might run next in the Grade 1 De Francis Dash on Nov. 24 at Laurel Park.

"Ultimately the Dubai Golden Shaheen would be the objective, but obviously first things first," said McPeek.

Storm Marcopolo, with Kent Desormeaux to ride, will break from post 2. Among his stronger opposition is Stormin Baghdad, a colt owned by Midnight Cry Stable that is trained by Asmussen, and Dooze, an Ohio-bred with four wins from his last five starts.

A rare Kentucky five-bagger

Miss Wellspring looks somewhat undistinguished in the fifth race Thursday, but the 6-year-old mare can lay claim to something that very few other horses can: she has won at all five racetracks in Kentucky.

Trained for most of her 38-race career by Greg Foley, Miss Wellspring has won three times at Turfway Park and once each at Churchill, Keeneland, Ellis Park, and Kentucky Downs.