Curlin claims Classic draw

Breeders’ Cup Classic favourite Curlin was further shortened in the market following the draw for Saturday’s £5m main event.

The defending champion and Dubai World Cup winner avoided a dreaded wide berth when he was handed stall nine for the mile-and-a-quarter showdown with European raiders Henrythenavigator, Duke Of Marmalade and Raven’s Pass.

Installed as 7-5 favourite on the official morning line odds, the draw prompted Coral to cut Curlin to 5-2 from 11-4, while William Hill moved the 2007 Horse of the Year in from 5-2 to 2-1.

John Gosden’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Raven’s Pass was the morning line’s second favourite at 6-1 with Go Between next at 8-1 followed by Aidan O’Brien’s Henrytheneavigator and Duke Of Marmalade, as well as unbeaten Japanese star Casino Drive, all on 10-1.

Hills cut O’Brien’s Duke Of Marmalade from 8-1 to 7-1 after the four-year-old son of Danehill, a five-time Group One winner this year, was drawn fourth of the 12 horses. Henrytheneavigator drew five while Raven’s Pass drew eight.

French raider Goldikova was handed the perfect draw for her Breeders’ Cup Mile bid.

With a wide draw to be avoided heading into an early first bend over the mile at Santa Anita on Saturday, the Freddie Head-trained filly was handed a dream stall in four for jockey Oliver Peslier.

The defection of Raven’s Pass to the Breeders’ Cup Classic had made Goldikova the hot favourite even before the draw but with Awesome Gem joining the field rather than going in the Classic, bookmakers resisted the temptation to shorten the filly further.

Aidan O’Brien’s US Ranger was also dealt a good hand at Santa Anita and will go off in the same race from stall seven.

The four-year-old son of Danzig, third last time out over seven furlongs in the Prix de la Foret, will again be partnered by regular jockey Johnny Murtagh.

Murtagh also rides Lord Admiral for Charles O’Brien in Saturday’s Breeders Cup Dirt Mile but the seven-year-old will have to contend with an outside draw in 12.

Jeremy Noseda’s Sixties Icon was cut by Hills from 9-4 to 13-8 for the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Marathon having been drawn fourth of nine.

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