Curlin, North America’s 2007 Horse of the Year, got a perfect trip, a perfect ride, and a perfect prep for the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) when he won the $175,000 Jaguar Trophy Handicap at Nad Al Sheba Race Course Feb. 28. The World Cup will be run March 29.
The approximately 1 ¼-mile event set up nicely for the son of Smart Strike's 4-year-old debut, as group III winner Imperialista led until the far turn. Jockey Robby Albarado kept Curlin well off the rail and tracking just behind the leader’s hip. The Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) winner drew off on his own coming down the lane and cruised in under wraps much the best. It was about 2 ¼-lengths back to Familiar Territory, who slipped between horses and was all-out to get the place. Ahmed Al Falasi’s Jet Express was third. The final time was 2:00.60.
"That was just what we wanted," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "In racing you are always cautiously optimistic, but that's what we expected. The timing between the races is ideal - he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) over a mile and a quarter before winning the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) over the same trip four weeks later. That's why we've come for this race, so everything's gone to plan so far."
Curlin, carrying 132 pounds, not only was conceding 15 pounds to his five opponents, but runner-up Familiar Territory was coming off a victory at Nad al Sheba under 131 pounds and was dropping 14 pounds for the Jaguar trophy.
"He is an amazing athlete and racehorse," Albarado said. "It is a real honor to be associated with him and he has shown why tonight. I took him wide to help settle him as he was a bit keen and from then I was never concerned."
Out of the Deputy Minister mare Sherrif'fs Deputy, Curlin was bred in Kentucky by Fares Farm. He has now won seven of 10 career starts including victories in last year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). His earnings are more than $5.2 million.
Majority owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable has Curlin heading a list of 169 horses nominated for the Dubai World Cup. Others nominated for the event are Premium Tap, Asiatic Boy, Happy Boy, Literato, Diwa Scarlet, Vermilion, Latency, Daaher, Awesome Gem, and Student Council.
Additional reporting by Steve Haskin