Curlin Canters at Nad Al Sheba
Photo: Andrew Watkins
Curlin, with Carmen Rosas on board, gets his first taste of the Nad Al Sheba racecourse, and is accompanied by Scott Blasi on his pony Poncho.

Horse of the Year Curlin looked in great shape Feb. 20 when he took his first look at the main dirt track of Nad Al Sheba, home to his main target, the $6million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), sponsored by Emirates Airline.

The son of Smart Strikecantered gently around the course as he begins his preparation ahead of his first run in the UAE, a handicap at the track Feb. 28, over the same 2000m of the Dubai World Cup.

Under the watchful eye of Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, Curlin looked well under work rider Carmen Rosas.  “Curlin made the trip in good shape. He’s doing fantastic and has a lot of energy,” said Blasi. “The track doesn’t have a lot of turn to it, which Curlin will appreciate as he has a tendency to look to the inside”.

Blasi added that he plans to work the 4-year-old as he would in his native US, including a “light breeze on Sunday or Monday (Feb. 24-25).”

“He’s tremendously confident,” Blasi continued. “He doesn’t get too hot in the paddock and he likes to be comfortable with where he is.”

The Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) hero is many people’s idea of the likely winner of the Dubai World Cup, but Blasi knows competition will be extremely fierce, as it always is for the world’s richest race, and named UAE Triple Crown winner Asiatic Boy as the main danger.

“Mike de Kock is a great trainer and Asiatic Boy is an impressive horse, we know he’s going to be tough to beat,” he said. “But Curlin is a special kind of horse. He was third in the Kentucky Derby on only his fourth ever start. We expect him to do big things”.

And Blasi believes victory in the Dubai World Cup March 29 could be the crowning moment in the horse’s glittering career so far.

“Dubai is the only place in the world you can run on such an international level against some of the best horses in the world,” he said.

“The Dubai World Cup is the richest horse race in the world and it’s a great way to show the horse to the world”.

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