curlin and steve asmussen
Steve Asmussen leads Curlin
(AP Photos)

English galloper Red Rocks (Galileo) has raised new questions about the standard of American racing Red Rocks, who has performed only moderately at home since winning the by giving the horse ranked No.1 in  the world an old-fashioned hiding. 2006 Breeder Cup Turf, beat the World Champion Curlin by two lengths in the G1 Man O’War Stakes at Belmont on Saturday.

Stallions Daily Bulletin reports that the win left trainer Steve Asmussen in a less-than-affable mood and is likely to torpedo plans for Curlin to run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. While Red Rocks has shown good ability, he finished only sixth at his previous start in the Coronation Cup at Epsom behind Soldier Of Fortune.

The defeat which came after Curlin’s Dubai World Cup win and a hollow first-up victory, could be down to the horse’s inexperience on grass. Curlin was making his first attempt away from the dirt tracks he was brought up on and connections are hoping his performance was down to inexperience on the new surface. His owner, Jess Jackson took some consolation in the reception his horse had received.

“It was a great race for the fans and this is part of what we are trying to do,” said Jess Jackson. “We just didn’t see that late kick from him today. I don’t know if that was because he is still getting used to the turf or what. My feeling right now is that he needs another turf test. I’m disappointed, but this is not a setback.”

While Red Rocks is capable of producing the goods on his day, the concern for the Curlin camp was that he only held off the veteran Better Talk Now by a half length to keep second.

The shock defeat of the 2-5 favourite follows the dismal performance of America’s other boom horse, Big Brown, in the Belmont Stakes at the same track last month.