02/23/2008 1:00AM

Curlin given final work for Dubai debut


Curlin worked an easy half-mile on Saturday morning at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in Dubai, his final drill leading up to his 4-year-old debut there on Thursday.

Curlin was clocked in 50.50 seconds for 800 meters, or slightly less than a half-mile, in his Saturday work, but Curlin's connections were looking for anything but a fast breeze just days before Curlin's prep race for the Dubai World Cup.

"I definitely didn't want him to work too fast," said trainer Steve Asmussen, who leaves for Dubai on Tuesday morning, and arrives there Wednesday night, Dubai time. "He went over there a physically fit horse."

Curlin had several major works at Fair Grounds before departing for Dubai, breezing a number of times with leading 3-year-old Pyro. Days before he departed, Curlin drilled a mile in just over 1:37, a time that would rank as one of the fastest one-mile races at the ongoing Fair Grounds meet.

Curlin arrived in Dubai with exercise rider Carmen "Carlos" Rosas and assistant trainer Scott Blasi on Sunday, and went to the track for the first time Wednesday. Blasi told Nad Al Sheba publicity staff that Curlin "gets over the ground here really well," following Saturday's work.

Though there is no betting in Dubai, races there are available for viewing and wagering in the U.S., and Curlin will be an odds-on favorite to capture a $175,000 handicap race contested over the Dubai World Cup distance of 2,000 meters. The World Cup itself is on March 29.