10/25/2008 11:00PM

Decisions still to be made for Curlin, Zenyatta


ARCADIA, Calif. -- At opposite ends of Los Angeles on Sunday, the victors and the vanquished in the 25th Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meeting were assessing their futures.

No specific plans were announced for Curlin, Raven’s Pass, or Zenyatta, though it seemed Zenyatta was the likeliest to remain in training.

Curlin, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday behind Raven’s Pass, was to return to Churchill Downs on Monday. Trainer Steve Asmussen said that Jess Jackson, the majority owner of Curlin, would determine whether Curlin remains in training as a 5-year-old in 2009, or heads to stud, though Asmussen at times lapsed into past tense when speaking of Curlin’s career.

“It’s been a remarkable run,” Asmussen said at Santa Anita. “He’s been a throwback from the beginning and he’s a durable and special horse.”

Asmussen said, “it was very touching the ovation that he got after the race.”

Curlin and Zenyatta have emerged as the two leading candidates for Horse of the Year. Curlin had the most ambitious schedule, but Zenyatta, who won the Ladies’ Classic on Friday, never lost. On Sunday at Hollywood Park, John Shirreffs, the trainer of Zenyatta, stated the case for Zenyatta as Horse of the Year.

“I think because Zenyatta is undefeated and beat such a strong field, she should strongly be considered for Horse of the Year,” Shirreffs said.

Asked if Zenyatta should have been in the Classic in order to vie for Horse of the Year against the best in the world, Shirreffs referenced the breakdown of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby.

“On the heels of some of the things that happened earlier in the year, it was in the best interest of Zenyatta, and in the best interest of racing, to run in the Ladies’ Classic against the best fillies in the world, and they all showed up,” Shirreffs said.

“It’s always in your mind when filles cross over, not just Eight Belles,” he said. “I just didn’t feel it was the right thing to do. I felt it was important for her to win a Breeders’ Cup race and be a champion. That was more important than racing in the Classic.”

Shirreffs said Zenyatta would be walked for a couple of weeks, though he said, “it’s tough to just keep her in the barn.”

He said her racing schedule has not been determined, though she will at the least be kept in light training.

“After a couple of weeks, I’m sure we’ll want to do something or she’ll kick the walls down,” he said.

Shirreffs said owners Jerry and Ann Moss have not said whether they intend to retire Zenyatta or race her next year at age 5, though he said, “They really enjoy racing their horses.”

John Gosden, who trains Raven’s Pass, said no decision has been made on whether the Classic winner will go to stud or race next year at age 4. Gosden opined that the engineered Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita better suited his horse than Curlin.

“Curlin has a phenomenal high-cruising speed and he gallops them into the ground,” Gosden said. “On that surface, he’s vulnerable to a horse with a tremendous burst of speed.”