Paddock To Post: Curlin Of Arabia

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: April 6, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Of all the great locations in racing, one place has emerged in recent years to be the spot for kings. Why? Because in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Sport of Kings is — for kings; and princes, and those folk common and uncommon from around the world. Curlin, fresh off his Horse of the Year award, burned across the desert sands to win the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Racing alongside American longshot Well Armed, Curlin cruised past at the top of the stretch to a 7 ½ length over Well Armed, with Asiatic Boy closing for third.

The win was a definite as Curlin, sent off as the 2/5 favorite, stalk the lead speed at the mile and a half distance coming from post position No. 12 with little pressure before taking off.

Preparation during the week left no doubt as to outcome according to Scott Blasi, assistant to head trainer Steve Asmussen. “He’s came out of his Monday workout in good order,” proclaims Blasi. “He was acting like we want him to coming into a big race.”

Of the days racing, a total of $21.25 million in purses was up for grabs, as contenders from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and North America flocked to Nad Al Sheba Race Course in the capital city of Dubai.

Now that he is Curlin of Arabia, the great one’s star power may go to megawatt status if he can stay fit. The successful beginning to Curlin’s career as a four-year-old takes on even greater importance with the forced retirement of ladies’ champ Rags to Riches.

What Can (Big) Brown Do For You?

Well for starters, he just might get you to the pay window in May. Big Brown, a majestic looking colt, spanked a field of 12 in the Florida Derby last Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Leaving from the 12-hole, Big Brown go to the front and set some eye-dropping fractions for a distance race. The lightly-raced three-year-old, who had won his previous two races by a combined 24 lengths, was never headed as he kicked into serious four-heel drive to stride home by five lengths. Smooth Air was a distant second, and Tomcito, a Peruvian import, up for show.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who passed up a chance to go to Dubai, had everyone understand why after the race. “He (Big Brown) is probably the best horse I’ve ever ridden.”

Trainer Dick Dutrow will take The Brown to Churchill Downs, his first Kentucky Derby horse in a distinguished career. The Florida Derby victory capped off a sensational weekend for Dutrow, who bagged two winners (Diamond Stripes & Benny the Bull) on the Dubal World Cup undercard (Godolphin Mile & the Golden Shaheen).

Triple Crown Update

The weekend was hot, with three major races across the country affecting the Derby field. On Saturday in New York City at Aqueduct Race Track, the Wood Memorial ran its 84th edition. Favorite War Pass, attempting to atone for his poor showing in the Tampa Bay Derby was caught by Tale of Ekati in the final 70 yards for the victory.

Trainer Barclay Tagg, who won last year’s Wood with No Biz Like Showbiz, and a Kentucky Derby with the lovable Funny Cide, now has another Derby hopeful, along with Big Truck. Tale of Ekati hit the board at 9-1, paying 19.00. Court Vision came along for show.

The Midwest represented in the 54th running of the Illinois Derby, as Recapture the Glory spanked the tote board at 15-1, outrunning Golden Spikes and Z Humor at Hawthorne Race Track. Favorite Denis of Cork ran a disappointing fifth.

Jockey E.T. Baird didn’t have to call home since he and ‘Glory got to the wire first. At $33.80 to win, ‘Glory recaptured some cash for his fans.

Out at Santa Anita two of the best in the West got it on as Colonel John and El Gato Malo made middle moves coming into the stretch of the Santa Anita Derby.

Corey Nakatani nursed Colonel John thorough traffic and El Gato Malo had to go outside turning for home.

The move by Nakatani proved to be the difference, as Colonel John caught pacesetter Coast Guard and place finisher Bob Black Jack in the final sixteenth of a mile. Coast Guard held on for third, while “The Bad Kitty” was a frustrated fifth.

Upcoming races include next week’s Arkansas Derby, where we’ll see how and if Blackberry Road recovered from the Louisiana Derby, and the Blue Grass, where Visionaire, Cool Coal Man and Pyro get their last licks in before the Kentucky Derby.

Good luck and good hunting. And remember, when you see your hoss charging down the home stretch, get up and scream at the top of your lungs: