American Horse of the Year and the world's top-rated horse still in training, Curlin, is set to make his eagerly-awaited reappearance at the Dubai International Racing Carnival later this month, before a crack at the Dubai World Cup on March 29.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said he plans to ship Curlin to Dubai on February 15, with arrival the following morning. Assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who has overseen some of Asmussen's previous Dubai runners on their trips to the United Arab Emirates, will accompany Curlin.

If all goes well with the trip, Asmussen intends to prep the four-year-old son of Smart Strike in a 2,000-metre handicap on the dirt on February 28 during the Dubai International Racing Carnival at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.

The month between that race and the US$6million showpiece, sponsored by Emirates, seems to fit Curlin's ideal pattern of accomplishment.

"I love the month between the races, à la the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Gr.1) and the (Breeders' Cup) Classic (Gr.1)," Asmussen said, referring to Curlin's final two victories of 2007. "The quarantine stuff will be out of the way and he'll have a month to get ready for the big race.

"The horse likes to know where he's at," he added. "His second race at Belmont (the Gold Cup) was better than his first (a close runner-up effort in the Belmont Stakes [Gr.1]), and his second race at Monmouth (his smashing Classic victory) was better than his first (a third in the Haskell Invitational Stakes [Gr.1]). If it's there in black and white like that, I believe it's true."

Connections have accepted the challenge of meeting the best from around the globe in the hope of proving that their horse is the undisputed king of racing.

"We want exactly what the race stands for," Asmussen said. "That's how I hope that others will feel about him-that he's the best horse in the world. I want others to feel about him the same way I do."

Principal owner Jess Jackson agrees. In a statement released on Monday confirming the Dubai plans, he said: "It comes down to the fact that Curlin has earned the chance to compete in the Dubai World Cup and has the opportunity to continue to make history as an international champion. The horse's greatest moments and best efforts may still lie ahead."

Curlin is set for a workout on Tuesday morning at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. When asked how the muscular chesnut is doing following a month of serious training, Asmussen laughed with delight.

"Like he's a deserved Horse of the Year," he said. "He's all that and a bag of peanuts."

Curlin has won six of nine career starts, including the classic Preakness Stakes (Gr.1), and placed the other three times, earning $5,102,800.

Both Asmussen and Jackson are keenly aware that success in a seasonal campaign that includes the Dubai World Cup with its winner's prize of $3.6 million could propel their horse past Cigar as the all-time earnings leader outside of Japan. The winner of the inaugural Dubai World Cup in 1996, Cigar, amassed more than $9.9 million.

Jackson, who owns 80% of Curlin with the Midnight Cry Stable holding the remaining 20%, said he hopes Curlin can become a hero in the sport during his 2008 campaign and help with overall marketing and promotion of Thoroughbred racing.

"I deeply care about improving the state of Thoroughbred racing as well as the horse industry in general," he said.

"We, as the owners of Curlin, are trying to do our part to help. Fellow owners and I have joined others in the industry in a broad-based (American) effort to elevate the industry in a variety of ways, and this campaign is one of the more visible."

Dubai Racing Club Media Release Published 05/02/08