Horse of the Year Curlin arrived in Dubai the evening of Feb. 17 with “pep in his step,” in the words of assistant trainer Scott Blasi, and seems eager to begin an assault on Cigar’s all-time earnings record with two starts at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse topped by the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 29.
The long flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with a refueling stop at Stanstead Airport in England, “couldn’t have gone any better,” Blasi said. Curlin settled comfortably in a spacious stall in the Nad Al Sheba quarantine area.
Just after sunrise Feb. 18, the son of Smart Strikeenjoyed a walk around the barn to stretch his legs, as well as a refreshing bath. Curlin, owned by Stonestreet Stables and Midnight Cry Stable, was to stay in quarantine for 48 hours before getting his first feel of the dirt track Feb. 20.
“Curlin is pretty smart—he know he’s here to do something,” Blasi said. “He’s got quite a bit of pep in his step, so I’ll be anxious to get him to the track.”
“He looks really good,” Blasi said, reporting that Curlin is eating well, though that is typical for the robust colt. “He’s a good doer. He didn’t get that big by not eating.”
Carmen Rosas, Curlin’s regular exercise rider, also accompanied the champion to Dubai, along with Blasi’s pony, Poncho, who is delighted with his accommodations near his famous stablemate.
“Right now, Poncho thinks he’s died and gone to heaven,” Blasi said with a laugh. “He’s got a stall the size of a paddock.”
The Curlin team departed from the Fort Lauderdale airport Feb. 16 to begin the journey. Blasi said it took little time to load and take off, and “everything went really smooth” from there, with the refueling stop brief and the landing in Dubai within 10 minutes of schedule.
“My hat’s off to whoever orchestrated all this,” Blasi said, praising the Janah Management Co. of Newmarket, England, which assigned skilled traveling groom Chris Webster to help take care of Curlin on the flight.
If all goes as planned, Curlin will breeze before he makes his first start of 2008 on Feb. 28 in a $175,000 race at 2,000 meters (about 1 ¼ miles) that is part of the Dubai International Racing Carnival.
Jockey Robby Albarado is due to arrive in Dubai Feb. 26, Blasi said, and trainer Steve Asmussen, who sent out the 4,000th winner of his career Feb. 17 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., is expected to land the following day.
Asmussen has said he wants the entire world to see how good Curlin is, and he has noted that if the colt surpasses Cigar’s record bankroll of $9,999,815, a mark set more than a decade ago, he will leave a significant legacy to racing.