As the only member of the elite crop of 2007 3-year-olds to return to racing as a 4-year-old, Curlin had the hopes of racing fans across the country resting on his shoulders as he embarked on an ambitious campaign that was designed to break new ground in international racing.
Everything began according to plan when Curlin captured the Jaguar Trophy and Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) at Nad Al Sheba, the latter by a resounding 7 3/4 lengths over top-class horses from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
After conquering the Middle East, Curlin returned home and easily captured the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs by 4 1/4 lengths under 128 pounds. With his form established on two continents, the defending Horse of the Year turned his sights to Europe and the granddaddy of all races, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fra-I).
But in his grass debut in the Man o’ War Stakes (gr. IT) he finished second to 2006 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Red Rocks. It was enough to convince owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen to abandon their plans and map out a new schedule in the United States.
Curlin captured the prestigious Woodward Stakes (gr. I) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), the latter for the second year in a row. His Gold Cup victory pushed his career earnings over the $10-million mark, making him the top money-winning North American-based horse of all time, passing Cigar.
Curlin concluded the year in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), but could do no better than fourth in his synthetic surface debut.
In the end, Jackson's efforts to keep Curlin in training an additional year paid off as the son of Smart Strike was voted Horse of the Year and champion older male.