09/07/2008 11:00PM

Curlin starts working toward Gold Cup

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Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin had his first workout since winning the Woodward Stakes, breezing a half-mile in 51.34 seconds over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga on Monday morning.

Under exercise rider Carlos Rosas, Curlin went in fractions of 13.00 and 25.40 seconds, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:05.40 and six furlongs in 1:19.60. It was the first of three scheduled workouts leading up to the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 27, a race Curlin won last year as a 3-year-old.

"He’s in great physical shape," said Scott Blasi, assistant trainer for Steve Asmussen. "He came out of the Woodward in good order, and worked very well. He went real smooth. We weren’t looking for much."

Blasi said Curlin will remain on his regular Monday work schedule before shipping to Belmont on Sept. 23.

"He is very comfortable up here, and we are very comfortable with what we are supposed to do with him up here," said Blasi. "It’s familiar for us, and familiar for him. He will do more next Monday."

Curlin will attempt to become the first horse since Skip Away (1996-97) to win consecutive Gold Cups. He is second on the all-time earnings list with $9,976,800, and a repeat in the Gold Cup would move him past Cigar ($9,999,815) into the top spot.

* Dream Rush, last year’s Prioress and Test winner, worked a half-mile on the Oklahoma surface in a bullet 48.29 seconds, the fastest of 62 workouts at the distance.