11/07/2008 12:00AM

Raven's Pass retires to Ireland


Raven's Pass, who mastered Curlin in winning the Breeders' Cup Classic last month, was retired on Friday to stand at Sheikh Mo-hammed's Kildangan Stud in County Kildare, Ireland.

The 3-year-old Raven's Pass, trained throughout his career by John Gosden at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket, England, will stand for a fee of 40,000 euros ($50,848).

"Sheikh Mohammed mulled over the options for a few days," Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, told the Racing Post. "It was a difficult decision to make because the horse is 100 percent sound and at the peak of his power."

Bred by Robert and Janice McNair at their Stonerside Stable in Paris, Ky., Raven's Pass was campaigned in England by Stonerside until September, when Sheikh Mohammed acquired the operation from the McNairs. As a 2-year-old, Raven's Pass won the Group 3 Solario Stakes and was considered one of the favorites for the classic 2000 Guineas, but he finished fourth behind Henrythenavigator.

Raven's Pass finished second behind Henrythenavigator in two more Group 1 miles, the St. James's Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, efforts sandwiched around still another runner-up finish to Tamayuz in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat.

His string of three consecutive second-place finishes came to an end when he won the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood, after which Sheikh Mohammed took control with his purchase of Stonerside. The sheikh promptly turned Raven's Pass over to his wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, and in his first start wearing her green and black colors, he turned the tables on Henrythenavi-gator, beating him by a length in Ascot's one-mile Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

A tilt at the Breeders' Cup Mile looked logical at that stage as all seven of Raven's Pass's races as a 3-year-old had come at a mile on turf. Gosden, however, feared the tight turns of the Santa Anita turf course as well as the possibility of a disadvantageous wide draw. With faith that Raven's Pass could stay

1 1/4 miles as well as act on Santa Anita's new synthetic Pro-Ride surface, Gosden began preparing him for the Breeders' Cup Classic and a meeting with Curlin as well as his arch-rival Henrythenavigator.

The decision proved to be a wise one. With Frankie Dettori replacing regular rider Jimmy Fortune, who had only just recovered from an injury and did not consider himself fit for such an important race, Raven's Pass flew home in the Classic, handing Henrythenavigator a 1 3/4-length thumping with Curlin finishing fourth beaten 2 3/4 lengths.

Raven's Pass, who won 7 of 11 starts and $3,664,833, will be joined at Kildangan next season by New Approach - the 2007 European juvenile champion and winner of the Epsom Derby, Irish Champion Stakes, and Champion Stakes - as well as the recently retired four-time Group 1 winner Ramonti.