08/26/2008 12:00AM

No Curlin-Big Brown match race


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Jess Jackson, the owner of reigning Horse of the Year Curlin, formally declined an invitation from the connections of Big Brown regarding a potential match race between the top two male horses in training.

On HRTV Sunday, Gary Stevens, in his capacity as a consultant with the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Inc. Stable, the majority owners of Big Brown, floated the idea of a match race between the two at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29. There was no specific purse or distance of race mentioned.

On Monday, Stevens heard from Kevin McGee, an attorney for Jackson, who said that Jackson wasn’t interested in a match race in part because Curlin could be in Japan for a possible start in the Japan Cup Dirt on Dec. 7.

“One of the options we’re considering is going to Japan, which would preclude such a race,” McGee said.

This comes two weeks after Big Brown’s camp declined an invitation from Jackson to face Curlin in Saturday’s Woodward Stakes at Saratoga or next month’s Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. Jackson had pledged to donate $50,000 to Anna House, a daycare center at Belmont, if Big Brown were to run in the Woodward.

Thus, it remains highly unlikely Big Brown and Curlin will meet. Big Brown’s next two races are the Monmouth Stakes on Sept. 13 followed by the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Curlin is running in Saturday’s Woodward and, most likely, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 27.

Jackson has said that because the Breeders’ Cup Classic is being run over a synthetic surface, he is not inclined to run Curlin in that race. Asked Tuesday if the Classic was definitely not an option for Curlin, McGee said, “Nothing is absolutely done; nothing has really changed in terms of inclinations to the Breeders’ Cup.”