SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Curlin won the $500,000 Woodward Stakes to move a step closer to defending his Horse of the Year title, beating long-shot Past the Point by 1¼ lengths Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The $300,000 winner's share moved the Stonestreet Stable-owned Curlin past Skip Away as the second-leading money winning thoroughbred in history with more than $9.79 million and leaves him less than $200,000 behind Cigar ($9.9 million).
Curlin, ridden by Robby Albarado, ran 1 1-8 miles in 1:49.34 in en route to his fourth victory in five starts this year and sixth straight win on dirt.
The Steve Asmussen-trained horse was bumped and carried wide entering the first turn and followed a fast pace set by the runner-up, who ran the first six furlongs in 1:09.61, forcing the 1-4 favorite to make up almost 10 lengths in the last three furlongs.
"I was wider than I wanted to be, I had to make a little longer run than I wanted to and he was there for me," Albarado said. "He's a consummate professional now and he showed on the racetrack what kind of horse he is."
Curlin paid $2.70, $2.40 and $2.10. Past the Point returned $13.80 and $6.40, and Wanderin Boy paid $3.50 to show.
"I was a little concerned at about the seven-eighths pole," Asmussen said, "but about halfway down the backstretch you could tell that Robby was comfortable with him. The mystique of Saratoga — the Graveyard of Champions — all that works on your head leading into this."
Earlier, 4-year-old First Defense won the $250,000 Forego Stakes after heavily favored Lucky Island stumbled badly at the break. Channing Hill rode the Bobby Frankel-trained First Defense, who led throughout the seven furlongs, finishing 6¾ lengths in front of Greeley's Conquest in 1:21.55.
First Defense paid $17.60, $9 and $5 and earned $150,000 for Juddmonte Farm. Greeley's Conquest returned $30 and $18.40, and Ferocious Fires paid $10.40 to show.