A figure of contained power in the early morning desert sun, Curlin rolled through an easy half-mile workout on Saturday in his first timed move over the Nad Al Sheba racecourse dirt surface prior to his initial start of 2008 Feb. 28.
Jim Cornes, stable coordinator for the Dubai Racing Club, timed the chestnut son of Smart Strike in :50.50 over what was officially an 800-meter breeze. "He was well within himself and eager to do more," Cornes said, describing exercise rider Carmen "Carlos" Rosas as "comfortably restraining" the colt.
Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, reported that Curlin seemed to relish the track and emerged bouncing with energy. Curlin is owned by Stonestreet Stables and Midnight Cry Stables.
"He gets over the ground here really well," said Blasi, who observed the workout aboard his pony, Poncho. "He’s anxious to do something. And he did things the right way this morning.
"Steve stressed really hard that he didn’t want him to do too much, and I think he will be pleased," he added. "Curlin went very, very nice. Carlos did a great job."
Official splits reported for the workout were :13.07, :25.27 and :37.89 in the cool morning air. Curlin arrived on the track at about 7:30, and Blasi said the robust chestnut was feeling so good after the breeze that he had to put a lip chain on him as he cooled out.
"I’m very happy with how he’s acting," Blasi said. "I see a lot of similarities in how he’s acting with how he has been before previous races."
With Curlin’s serious training accomplished at Fair Grounds Race Course prior to his departure from the United States, Blasi said the reigning Horse of the Year will just gallop up to the $175,000 race next week over 2,000 meters, or about 1¼ miles. That event will serve as his prep for the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 29 at the same distance.
"I feel very good that we got the work in him today and I’m looking forward to the race on Thursday," Blasi said after leading Curlin back into his stall on the Nad Al Sheba backstretch. His only other notable plans call for Curlin to visit the starting gate on Tuesday morning.
Jockey Robby Albarado is due to arrive in Dubai early next week, with Asmussen scheduled to fly in the day before the race.
Blasi, who oversaw Asmussen’s previous starters on Dubai World Cup programs— Easyfromthegitgo, who was unplaced in the 2003 Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) and Gaff, who was fifth in the 2006 Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I)—traveled with Curlin to Dubai.