Horse of the Year Curlin is being pointed to the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 29 at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse to make his first start of 2008, majority owner Jess Jackson said.
"We feel the best thing to do for Curlin is to take him to Dubai and point him to the (Dubai) World Cup," Jackson said in a Feb. 3 release. "We weighed the pros and cons of taking him overseas or kicking off 2008 in the States. So as long as he's fit and healthy, it comes down to the fact that Curlin has earned the chance to compete in the Dubai World Cup and has the opportunity to continue to make history as an international champion.
"This horse's greatest moments and best efforts may still lie ahead."
Trained by Steve Asmussen, the son of Smart Strike out of the Deputy Minister mare Sherriff's Deputy finished his 3-year-old season with earnings of $5,102,800 from a record of 6-1-2 from nine starts.
Asmussen confirmed Feb. 4 the plan is to race Curlin Feb. 28 in a $175,000 race at 2,000 meters (the same distance as the World Cup--about 1 1/4 miles) at Nad Al Sheba in the hope it will set him up for the big race.
"I love the month between (the prep and the World Cup), a la the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic," Asmussen said. "The quarantine stuff will be out of the way, and he will have a month to get ready. The horse likes to know where he's at. The second time he ran at Belmont was better than the first; the second time he ran at Monmouth was better than the first. And I believe if it's in black and white like that, it's true."
Assistant Scott Blasi, who has been to Dubai before with other Asmussen runners, will accompany Curlin on the trip Feb. 15. The flight is due to arrive in Dubai at 9 a.m. Feb. 16.
Asmussen said he plans to send Curlin out for another workout Feb. 5 at Fair Grounds. He laughed when asked how the colt is doing, saying: "Like he's the deserved Horse of the Year. He's all that and a bag of peanuts."
Plans for Curlin after the World Cup won't be discussed until after the Dubai trip.
Jackson, who owns the colt in partnership with the Midnight Cry Stables of Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion, reiterated his hopes that Curlin's 4-year-old campaign will provide racing a much-needed hero and a chance to focus and improve the sport's marketing.
"I deeply care about improving the state of Thoroughbred racing as well as the horse industry in general," Jackson said. "We, as the owners of Curlin, are trying to do our part to help. Fellow owners and I have joined others in the industry in a broad-based nationwide effort to elevate the industry in a variety of ways, and this campaign is one of the more visable."