Curlin's Up to Classic Status; American Idol: Curlin Is Led Round by Juan Gonzalez

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Byline: MARCUS TOWNEND

IF Curlin runs like he trains on the new Pro- Ride surface that everyone is talking about here in California, he'll have no problem in repeating last year's win in the $5m Classic tonight.

That's the opinion of Jeff Siegel, one of the best regarded authorities on American racing and an expert analyst for Horse Racing TV in the States.

'He is obviously very tough and with there not appearing to be much pace in the race, that should play right into his hands,' says Siegel.

However, it's not all doom and gloom for the European challenge as Siegel explained: 'If the Euros Duke Of Marmalade, Henrythenavigator and Raven's Pass can lay pretty close to the pace, they might have a shot as well..

'Certainly, if Curlin was beaten, it will probably be by one of the Europeans. I don't think Go Between is up to beating him, although he is probably our second best horse.' Siegel also gave British punters some helpful information about the likely draw bias.

He added: 'As far as the draw goes, in sprints you want to be close to the outside (high). It doesn't make any difference for distance horses and on the Turf you generally want to be on the inside (low).'

Siegel has some clear views on how the other races are likely to pan out and believes the British-trained challengers could get tonight's meeting off to a flyer in the Marathon.

'Sixties Icon is clearly the class of the race. I'd imagine he has trained well on the synthetic back home, otherwise he could easily have run in the Turf. …