03/16/2008 11:00PM

Curlin gets into good rhythm for World Cup


Curlin was at it again Monday morning at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in Dubai, wowing onlookers with a powerful six-furlong breeze, his big drill for his March 29 start in the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Curlin, working alone with regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas in the irons, was clocked in 1:13.54 for 1,200 meters, or about six furlongs. Curlin started out slowly, going his first furlong in 13.40 seconds, but finished fast, coming home with a final furlong in 12.19.

Timewise, the breeze seemed reminiscent of the major works Curlin turned in at Fair Grounds before leaving for Dubai on Feb. 15. Prepping for the World Cup in a 2,000-meter handicap race Feb. 29 at Nad Al Sheba, Curlin won by a measured 2 1/4 lengths. He came back with a moderate work last Monday and got down to more serious business this week. Curlin will have one final easier breeze, probably next Monday, before galloping into the World Cup.

"It was exactly what we had in mind, and he galloped out strong," assistant trainer Scott Blasi said after Monday's work. "I couldn't be happier with how he went and the rhythm he is in."

Curlin ought to be in a rhythm by now, even if he is far away from home. It has been more than a month since he arrived in Dubai, with trainer Steve Asmussen taking an unconventional route to the World Cup. U.S.-based horses have more than held their own through the 12-year history of the event, winning seven editions, but six of those horses had their World Cup prep somewhere in the United States and shipped to Dubai only shortly before the race.

Street Cry, who won in 2002 for Godolphin Racing, presents an exception, having shipped to Dubai with the other higher-class Godolphin horses months before the World Cup.

The rest of the U.S. contingent will arrive in Dubai this week, with flights scheduled from both Florida and California on Tuesday. Several Dubai-bound horses turned in their final works on Sunday before shipping. World Cup probables A.P. Arrow (five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Palm Beach Downs) and Great Hunter (six furlongs in 1:15 at Hollywood) both breezed.

Racing officials at Nad Al Sheba expect as many as 13 runners for the World Cup, which would equal the biggest field in the race's history. Curlin's stiffest competition could come from Asiatic Boy, Happy Boy, Jalil, Premium Tap, or Vermilion.