08/10/2008 11:00PM

Slop keeps Curlin on training track


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Mother Nature postponed Curlin's first-ever visit to Saratoga's main track on Monday, but the reigning Horse of the Year still got in an important workout that keeps him on schedule for the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward Stakes here on Aug. 30.

Working over a sloppy Oklahoma training track in the second set after the first renovation break - approximately 8 a.m. - Curlin drilled six furlongs in 1:14.62, going in company with the 4-year-old Hawaii Calls, who finished a neck in front at the wire.

Curlin, with exercise rider Carlos Rosas up, started one length behind Hawaii Calls and basically sat right off that horse through the entire work, in which Curlin was timed in splits of 12.99 seconds, 25.46, 37.73, and 49.70. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.25 and pulled up the mile in 1:43.73.

"He went great,'' Asmussen said. "Remarkable how he seems to go over the ground regardless of the condition, very similar; has beautiful action. They went a little quicker than I was expecting them to, but they seemed to do it very easily. We were expecting 1:15 or a little slower.''

Asmussen had planned to work Curlin on the main track Monday because the horse has never been on it before. Asmussen said he would try the main track next week, weather permitting.

"The Oklahoma just handles the water I feel so much better,'' Asmussen said. "The main track seems to be right down to the base. I thought they went well over the track.''

Curlin's first three workouts here this summer have been by himself. Asmussen said he believes Curlin puts forth a smoother work in company.

"I think that he's a lot more relaxed earlier in a work in company,'' Asmussen said. "Ability-wise he's capable of doing so much that we just use Hawaii Calls as a rabbit for him. He's got one steady speed, which is solid. Carlos is able to get him to relax off of him and let the other horse pace him. If anything, he gets smoother works in company because he paces himself.''

In the set before Curlin worked, Asmussen put two of his other stakes-caliber horses though works by themselves. Pyro, the Jim Dandy runner-up who is pointing to the $1 million Travers on Aug. 23, went six furlongs in 1:16.01, while Student Council, seeking a repeat victory in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 24, went six furlongs in 1:14.46.

"Nice and steady and safe,'' Asmussen said of Pyro's move. "Basically, he went off pretty easily and I thought he galloped out real big.''

Asmussen called Student Council "a train.''

After the second renovation break, Asmussen worked his multiple-stakes-winning sprinter J Be K five furlongs in 1:01.40 over the training track in preparation for the Grade 1 King's Bishop on the Travers undercard.

"He's training great, fabulous horse,'' Asmussen said.

Music Note more likely for Alabama

Though a decision has not been made, it appears the 3-year-old filly Music Note is more likely to run in Saturday's Grade 1 Alabama than she is to face the boys a week later in the $1 million Travers Stakes.

Rick Mettee, who oversees Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin string in New York, said he spoke with head trainer Saeed bin Suroor on Sunday and said he got the impression "we're still planning on going in the Alabama with both fillies.'' Mettee was referring to Music Note and Ashland winner Little Belle.

The potential of a 10- to 12-horse field for the Travers is one reason why enthusiasm for the Travers has waned for Music Note. The Alabama field is likely to be a five- or six-horse field.

"In a five- or six-horse field, at least you got a pretty good idea at the quarter pole when you swing out you're going to have room,'' Mettee said. "Field size is definitely a concern.''

On Sunday, Music Note and Little Belle put in workouts over the Polytrack that Godolphin has at its private facility adjacent to the barn area of the main track. For decades, that property belonged to the Greentree Stable.

According to Mettee, Music Note worked five furlongs in 1:02.40, but got her final quarter in 22.60 seconds. Little Belle worked five furlongs in 1:00.60. Mettee said the Polytrack used at Godolphin's facility is the same type that is used at Keeneland, where Little Belle won the Grade 1 Ashland in April.

Proud Spell, the Kentucky Oaks winner, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland on Monday. Others pointing to the Alabama are Mushka and Skylighter and possibly Flaming Slew and Sweet Vendetta.

Ferocious Fires wins Troy

Ferocious Fires took advantage of a surface switch to win Monday's $84,050 Troy Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths to remain undefeated on dirt.

Originally scheduled for the turf, the Troy was run on a muddy main track due to the continued inclement weather that has plagued the first half of this meet. The switch was exactly what trainer Tony Dutrow was hoping for as he entered Ferocious Fires only for the main track.

Under Cornelio Velasquez, Ferocious Fires dueled outside of Cougar Cat through a half-mile in 45.88 seconds. Outside the eighth pole, Ferocious Fires began to pull away from Cougar Cat and Hollywood Left, who advanced into contention along the rail. Rallying Cry rallied to get second by 1 1/2 lengths over Hollywood Left.

Ferocious Fires, owned by Sanford Goldfarb, Ira Davis. and William Vidro, was running back just 11 days after he won the John Morrissey Stakes here on July 31. Ferocious Fires is now 8 for 8 on dirt. His only loss came when he finished sixth in a turf stakes at Belmont Park.

Stakes-caliber allowances on Wednesday card

In addition to the Grade 2 Adirondack, Wednesday's card features a pair of stakes-caliber allowance races.

The third race is a third-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles, which was brought back from Friday when the final eight races of the card were canceled due to track conditions. That race features the return of Ravel, a graded stakes winner at 3 who has not run since finishing fourth in the Grade 2 San Fernando in January. He suffered a serious eye injury when a clod of Santa Anita's synthetic track caught him.

The race also includes Fearless Vision, an allowance winner last month at Belmont, and Temporary Saint, the Grade 3 Excelsior Handicap winner.

Later on the card, Starforaday, winner of the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap, heads a third-level allowance at seven furlongs. Starforaday, who finished fourth in the Tom Fool in his last start, worked five furlongs in 58.29 seconds over the Oklahoma training track on Saturday. Starforaday has been plagued by foot problems.

"Unbelievable,'' Contessa said. "Obviously, faster than I wanted, but as I was kicking the ground thinking it might have been too fast, [assistant trainer Marcelo Arenas] reminded me he worked 45 three days before the Maryland Sprint. The amazing thing is he did it on the training track. He needed it; he missed a lot of time.''

Other notables in the race include Premium Wine, Callemetony, and Shone.

Waya won't be rescheduled

The New York Racing Association will not reschedule the $80,000 Waya Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for fillies and mares that was canceled last Friday when the final eight races of the day were scrapped due to unsafe track conditions.

Initially, the Waya was going to be brought back on Wednesday, but with heavy rains Monday and a chance for more Tuesday and Wednesday, the course may not have been usable. Also, it was questionable whether the race would even attract the same six horses it initially drew.