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Advancing causes

Jackson has other causes. He wants the fragmented sport to adopt a Major League of Racing, which would unify it under one governing body. He is passionate about horse safety and speaks at length about the merits of a zero-tolerance drug policy and limiting the racing of 2-year-olds. He has supported legislation that would prohibit the slaughter of horses for pet food.

Whether his causes are advanced is uncertain.

But his most visible cause - the matter of Curlin and his legacy - is likely to be successful, said Andrew Beyer of the Washington Post, the nation's foremost horse-racing writer.

Because Curlin didn't race until he was a 3-year-old, he spent last year playing catch-up with the competition. The playing field is different in 2008.

"For Curlin to do what he did in the Triple Crown and keep on going through the Breeders' Cup was a remarkable achievement," Beyer said in an e-mail. "This year, when Asmussen gets to plan a campaign instead of having everything forced by the schedule of the 3-year-old races, Curlin can do some very big things."

For his part, Jackson knows he was fortunate to witness the big things Curlin accomplished in 2007.

And as he recently watched Curlin on the plasma screen, roaring to victory at the mud-soaked Preakness and getting nipped at the Belmont Stakes, he relished recalling the highs and the lows.

For most owners, it was a once-in-a-lifetime year.

But Jess Jackson has the backbone - and the bankroll - to try to do it all over again.


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