OCEANPORT, N.J. -- Curlin easily dismissed his toughest rivals in the Breeders' Cup Classic, beating Street Sense, Hard Spun and Lawyer Ron to virtually crown himself Horse of the Year.
Of course, the Eclipse Award won't be given out until January, but Curlin's 4½-length victory left few doubters after he concluded his season in sensational fashion.
"The horse came through with flying colors and put in his best performance yet," trainer Steve Asmussen said Sunday. "He was the best horse that he's been, but everything has to be evaluated from that."
Curlin had never run on a wet track, although it was hard to tell by his performance Saturday. Jockey Robby Albarado moved him into contention around the final turn at Monmouth Park and they swept past Hard Spun and Lawyer Ron. Curlin became the eighth 3-year-old to win the Classic.
Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense tried to catch Curlin, but couldn't make up ground in the stretch over the sloppy track.
"If he had finished off his race, he'd have been third, but he just didn't finish it off," trainer Carl Nafzger said. "Curlin and Hard Spun ran top races. I wish he had been third because that would mean we'd have had the 1-2-3 in the Derby, 1-2-3 in the Preakness and 1-2-3 in the Breeders' Cup Classic."
The Classic field featured the first three Derby finishers -- Street Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin. The trio took turns beating each other the past few months, and they defeated older horses as well.
But ultimately, Curlin came out on top with six wins, a narrow loss to the filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes and two thirds in nine races for earnings of $5.1 million.
"Everybody needs to step back, enjoy what he's done, and then evaluate it off of that," Asmussen said.
He said that no decision has been made on whether Curlin will be retired to stud or race next year as a 4-year-old.
"In the next day or two we'll discuss that," Asmussen said.
Retirement is in the immediate futures of Street Sense and Hard Spun. Both colts are headed to stud at Darley Stable in Kentucky.
"Those three horses have been phenomenal all year," said Larry Jones, Hard Spun's trainer. "Street Sense and Curlin took turns beating up on me. We beat Street Sense as many times as he beat us, and Curlin, out of five times, he got us three and we got him the other two. This may be one of the best crops ever. Hard Spun has been going for 12 months solid, and he never disappointed us."