03/06/2008 1:00AM

Asiatic Boy fails, but Jalil pops up

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Asiatic Boy failed in his Dubai World Cup prep at Nad Al Sheba Thursday night, finishing a one-paced third in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar. But Curlin could be faced with strong new local challenger in the upcoming World Cup - Jalil, who racked up his third straight victory in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge.

The Burj Nahaar and Maktoum Challenge were among six preps on Thursday for Dubai World Cup Night on March 29.

Asiatic Boy had no apparent excuse as his perfect 5-for-5 record at Nad Al Sheba came to an end in the one-mile $200,000 Burj Nahaar.

Elusive Warning, trained to two victories at Aqueduct last winter by Kiaran McLaughlin, won the race, beating his Godolphin stablemate Blackat Blackitten by a half-length.

Asiatic Boy had them both in his sights in the stretch, but never mounted a challenge and was beaten by 3 1/4 lengths.

An Elusive Quality 4-year-old, Elusive Warning covered the mile on fast ground in 1:35.43, and is now a prime candidate for the Godolphin Mile, along with Blackat Blackitten.

Trainer Mike de Kock said he still will send Asiatic Boy to the World Cup.

For Jalil, his 1 1/2-length victory over Gloria de Campeao going 1 1/4 miles in the Group 2, $300,000 Maktoum Challenge went a long way toward vindicating the $9.7 million Sheikh Mohammed shelled out for him at the 2005 Keeneland September Sale. Jalil had won only once in four tries in England last year, but has prospered on the Nad Al Sheba dirt this winter.

Never far back on Thursday, he led at the eighth pole under a hand ride from Frankie Dettori and was ridden out for the victory. Round 2 Maktoum Challenge winner Lucky Find was third, another length back, with Argentine champion Latency eighth, 15 1/2 lengths behind Jalil.

The time was 2:00.35 for the 1 1/4 miles, a quarter of a second faster than Curlin's clocking in winning the the Jaguar Trophy Handicap at the same distance a week ago. Curlin, however, was under wraps throughout in his 2 1/4-length victory that night.

"He's learning to be a really good horse," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford of Jalil.

"We gave him a chance as he needed time last year, and it's paid huge dividends. He'll go straight to the Dubai World Cup and we'll see Curlin there. He needs to improve again, but he hasn't stopped yet."

America's historical supremacy in the Dubai Golden Shaheen will be challenged this year by the ex-American colt Diabolical.

Trained by Steve Klesaris to a victory in the Grade 2 A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga last summer, Diabolical was the most impressive winner on the Dubai World Cup Preview Night card, drawing away to a 4 1/2-length victory over Star Crowned in the Group 3, $200,000 Mahab Al Shimaal.

An unlucky fourth last time behind Asiatic Boy, when he stumbled at the start of the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, Diabolical covered the straight six furlongs under Dettori in a stakes record 1:09.59. Next, he will attempt to give Godolphin its first Golden Shaheen victory.

Lord Admiral came from last of 16 in the Group 2, $250,000 Jebel Hatta to score a one-length victory over Jay Peg in this 1 1/8-mile prep for the Dubai Duty Free. Lord Admiral's victory came at the expense of Royal Oath, who was fifth, and New Zealand champion Seachange, who was sixth. The winning time was 1:49.32 on good ground.

Gower Song scored a big upset in the Group 3, $200,000 Dubai City of Gold, a course and distance prep for the Dubai Sheema Classic. Trained by David Elsworth, Gower Song, 5, came with a late rush to defeat Mourilyan by a half-length with Oracle West third and last year's winner Quijano fifth. The mare's time for the 1 1/2 miles was a stakes record 2:30.10.

Royal Vintage, second to Mike de Kock-trained stablemate Honour Devil in the UAE 2000 Guineas, took a measure of revenge with a head victory over Honour Devil in the listed $150,000 Al Bastikiya.