Curlin entered in Dubai World Cup prep
In accordance with trainer Steve Asmussen's master plan, Horse of the Year
CURLIN (Smart Strike) has been entered in a $175,000 handicap at Nad al Sheba on
Thursday. The about 1 1/4-mile event will serve as his prep for the Dubai World
Cup (UAE-G1) on March 29.
Curlin has sent all the right signals since arriving in Dubai
(Dubai Racing Club/Monica Pinheiro)
Eleven other horses have been named at Monday's early entry stage, with the
final declarations to be released Tuesday. None of them can claim a resume as
impressive as Curlin's, but for that reason, he must shoulder the massive top
weight of 132 pounds, spotting his opponents from 19 to 29 pounds.
Last seen capturing the October 27 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in the slop at
Monmouth, Curlin has been training sharply in advance of his four-year-old
debut. The strapping chestnut turned in seven works at Fair Grounds this winter,
capped by a seven-furlong move in a razor-sharp 1:23 3/5 on February 12. Curlin
arrived in Dubai on February 17, spent 48 hours in quarantine, and got his first
feel of the Nad al Sheba surface when cantering last Wednesday. He traveled an
easy half-mile in :50.50 on Saturday, to the delight of assistant trainer Scott
Blasi. Regular rider Robby Albarado is expected to make the trek to Dubai for
If Curlin is upset, the likeliest candidate is KANDIDATE (Kabool), who would
tote a mere 113 pounds as the next highest-rated horse in the contest.
Conditioned by Clive Brittain, the British-bred bay has plenty of experience at
Nad al Sheba, and on his day, is capable of a first-rate effort. Kandidate
stormed home by 5 3/4 lengths in last year's Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (UAE-G3)
at about nine furlongs, but he was not able to duplicate that performance when
checking in a distant sixth to Invasor (Arg) next time out in the World Cup. In
his 2008 bow, Kandidate returned to defend his title in the February 7 Maktoum
Challenge Round 2, finishing second to the progressive Lucky Find (Rich Man's
Horseman Saeed bin Suroor is responsible for three of the entries -- FAMILIAR
TERRITORY (Cape Cross [Ire]), who is coming off a victory in a February 14
handicap at this track and trip; Italian stakes-placed IGOR PROTTI (Opening
Verse), who was third in an about nine-furlong handicap here on Friday; and
IMPERIALISTA (Voando Baixo), the winner of the 2007 Maktoum Challenge Round 1
(UAE-G3) and most recently third in an approximately 1 1/16-mile handicap on
Thursday. Igor Protti is the only one of the trio to sport the Godolphin colors.
Familiar Territory is cross-entered to a turf handicap on Thursday's card.
The red-hot Mike de Kock has pitched in ENGRUPIDO (Potrillon [Arg]). Group
1-placed in his native Argentina, the five-year-old gray narrowly prevailed in a
turf handicap at this distance on Friday. Engrupido is cross-entered to two
other handicaps on Thursday, both on the turf.
Also notable in the early entries is Dubai stakes-placed MUTASALLIL (Gone
West). The Doug Watson charge was a convincing winner over the track last
Friday, defeating Godolphin's Igor Protti by 4 1/2 lengths.
Curlin's race promises to overshadow the three listed stakes on the card --
the $250,000 U.A.E. Oaks, the $200,000 Zabeel Mile and the $200,000 Al Quoz
Sprint. The two turf stakes proved to be very popular, with the Zabeel Mile
attracting 47 entries and the Al Quoz Sprint drawing 32. Only 12 signed on for
the U.A.E. Oaks, an about nine-furlong affair on the main track. COCOA BEACH (Doneraile
Court), a 5 1/4-length heroine of the U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas over FIESTA
LADY (Southern Halo) in their last meeting, will likely clash with multiple
Brazilian Group 1 queen LIGHT GREEN (Blush Rambler).
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