Sports

Curlin owner: MassCap is ‘on our radar screen’

It may be a longshot, but Suffolk Downs is in the running to attract 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin for the Massachusetts Handicap on Sept. 20.After announcing that the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 30 would be Curlin’s next start, majority owner Jess Jackson said in a national conference call Tuesday that he would consider sending Curlin to East Boston for the MassCap.”Suffolk is an alternative, along with the Jockey Club Gold Cup (at Belmont Sept. 27),” said Jackson, who sounded as if it is unlikely Curlin will try to defend his title in the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to the uncertainty and unpredictability of the synthetic racing surface at Santa Anita.”We’d like to go there,” Jackson said of the Breeders’ Cup, “but it is an untested surface. We’re very uncertain about it. He won the Classic already. Been there, done that.”Jackson said he and trainer Steve Asmussen also considered Saturday’s Arlington Million on turf and the Pacific Classic on synthetic at Del Mar Aug. 24 for Curlin’s next start, but they settled on the Woodward for a simple reason: Curlin loves it at Saratoga.”He’s very fit here and he’s very happy here. He often tells us what he likes and what he doesn’t like,” said Jackson, adding that while he considered keeping Curlin on the turf after his second-place finish in the Man O’War Stakes at Belmont July 12, he opted for the return to dirt at this point.With the MassCap coming up only three weeks after the Woodward, it is not probable Curlin would be brought back in such a short period of time, but Jackson, who also mentioned the possibility of traveling to Japan or Hong Kong for a race, made it clear that if the situation were right – i.e., dirt track, big purse – he would seriously consider it.”Suffolk? Yes,” Jackson said. “The owners there are being very aggressive and doing a very good job. We will keep it on our radar screen.”Suffolk Downs majority owner Richard Fields and chief operating officer Chip Tuttle are realistic about the track’s chances of getting Curlin, but as long as the window is open, they will stay in hot pursuit. Tuttle visited with Asmussen at Saratoga last weekend, while vice president of racing Sam Elliott spent some quality time with the connections of Big Brown at Monmouth Park, where the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ rebounded from his Belmont pull-up with a gritty victory in the Haskell.As it stands, the Suffolk contingent is thrilled that Nick Zito is planning to bring ageless wonder Commentator to the MassCap, fresh off his convincing victory in the Whitney at Saratoga July 26. The 7-year-old gelding, who also won the Whitney in 2005, has won 12 of 18 starts and earned more than $1.4 million in his illustrious career.”Commentator is the cream of the crop of East Coast older horses,” Tuttle said. “Curlin is an international star and Big Brown is certainly the biggest show in racing. Any of those three would be wonderful. We’re ecstatic that our race is the next one on Commentator’s planned schedule.”Tuttle indicated that Suffolk Downs, which brought back the MassCap last year after a two-year hiatus, might be willing to increase the $500,000 purse should Curlin and/or Big Brown agree to run. “We are in discussions internally and with outreach to owners and trainers,” he said.Even without Curlin or Big Brown, the MassCap figures to draw a quality field due to its designation as a win-and-you’re-in prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.For those Neil Diamond fans unable to see the music legend at Fenway Park, Suffolk Downs is offering a viable – and eminently more affordable – alternative. Super Diamond, “The Alternative Neil Diamond Experience,” will play at Suffolk Downs on Friday, Aug. 22, the eve of Diamond’s much-anticipated concert at Fenway. Super Diamond, featuring lead singer Surreal Neil, made its first performance 15 years ago in San Francisco and is regarded as the world’s premier Neil Diamond tribute bands.The show will take place after the conclusion of live raci

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