09/21/2008 11:00PM

Curlin works for Gold Cup

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin put the finishing touches on his preparation for Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup by working an easy half-mile in 51.85 seconds Monday morning over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track.

Under exercise rider Carlos Rosas, Curlin went his first quarter in 25.70 seconds and his second quarter in 26.15 while galloping out five furlongs in 1:06.15, according to track clockers.

"He worked perfect," said Scott Blasi, assistant trainer to Steve Asmussen. "Typical Curlin-type work before he runs; half-mile blowout, nothing special; nice, smooth work."

It was Curlin's third and final workout since he won the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga, a race in which he had to run harder than many expected to run down a stubborn Past the Point. Blasi said in training Curlin up to this race, he didn't want to "overdo it" with him.

"I think we gave the race the respect it deserved," Blasi said. "It was a very good race for him. We were confident training with a month between races and how he's responded. His works have really went well up here."

Curlin was scheduled to leave Saratoga on Tuesday morning and arrive at Belmont by mid-Tuesday afternoon. Curlin will gallop on the main track Wednesday, school at the gate and in the paddock on Thursday, and gallop Friday.

Mambo in Seattle, who figures to be second choice behind Curlin, also worked an easy half-mile in 49.64 seconds over Belmont's main track. Mambo in Seattle has breezed four times at Belmont since losing the Travers by a nose to Colonel John.

"We feel the horse is doing extremely well, otherwise we wouldn't be thinking of undertaking something like this," trainer Neil Howard said. "Obviously, he's training well, but in these cases you got to look at him just as much in the barn, too. His hair coat couldn't look any better, his appetite is very good, although he's a pretty good-doing horse as a rule anyway."

Entries for the Gold Cup will be taken Thursday. Other definite starters include Merchant Marine, Timber Reserve, and Wanderin Boy. Frost Giant is possible as is one of the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of A.P. Arrow or Ravel.

Abraaj out, Lucky Island in Vosburgh

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has had to shuffle his lineup for Saturday's $250,000 Vosburgh, substituting Lucky Island for an injured Abraaj in the Grade 1 race at six furlongs.

McLaughlin said Abraaj has an issue in his left front ankle that will force him to miss this weekend's Vosburgh.

"Abraaj is not 100 percent," McLaughlin said. "We're not sure what it is, but we can't run Saturday."

McLaughlin said "it's 50-50" whether Abraaj could still make the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

McLaughlin had planned to run Lucky Island in Saturday's Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita to see how the horse handled the new Pro-Ride surface over which the Breeders' Cup would be run. Since Lucky Island is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, it would cost owner Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum $300,000 to supplement him to the $2 million Sprint.

"Lucky Island is undefeated here, it's a Grade 1 important race for any horse to win," McLaughlin said Monday at Belmont Park. "We'll worry about the Breeders' Cup after this race. They'd probably still supplement if he wins, but we'll see."

Last year, Sheikh Hamdan paid a $180,000 supplemental fee to run Lahudood in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and was rewarded with a victory, which led to her earning an Eclipse Award as the top filly and mare in North America.

Meanwhile, trainer Bruce Levine said Bustin Stones would not run in the Vosburgh and instead will train up to the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Levine said he didn't feel he has the horse fit enough to run this weekend. Bustin Stones, undefeated in six lifetime starts, has not run since winning the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct on April 5.

Among those planning to join Lucky Island in the starting gate for the Vosburgh are Black Seventeen, Fabulous Strike, J Be K, Kodiak Kowboy, and Rockerfeller. First Defence is possible.

Evening Attire suffers a setback

Evening Attire was forced to scratch from Sunday's Point Given Stakes at Monmouth Park due to filling in a leg, trainer Pat Kelly said. The filling was detected after the horse arrived at Monmouth Park on Sunday morning.

Kelly said it would take a few days before he knew for sure how serious a problem the 10-year-old gelding may or may not have.

"We scratched to be cautious," Kelly said Monday morning at his Belmont Park barn. "We're checking it out. We won't know anything for another 48 or 72 hours. He's not running anytime soon. He's here, we're dealing with it."

Evening Attire was coming off an 8 1/4-length victory in the Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park on July 19 and seemed to have found new life going 1 1/2 miles. Overall, he has won 15 of 69 starts and earned $2,977,130 for owners Joseph and Mary Grant and T.J. Kelly.

* Ginger Punch and Lemon Drop Mom are expected to renew acquaintances in Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame. Ginger Punch somehow caught Lemon Drop Mom in the final jump to win the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Others expected to run include defending Beldame winner Unbridled Belle, Cocoa Beach, and Salty Response.