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Spotlight (Very Much) On Curlin

The Dubai World Cup fast approacheth, and naturally Curlin is the star of the show (even though he will have to break from post 12). Such is the level of respect accorded Curlin that Eoin Harty, who brings Well Armed, said:

“Even if they started Curlin on Nad Al Sheba road, I don’t think it would make much difference!”

Of course, that is not to say that the other trainers think Curlin is unbeatable — far from it. Frankie Detorri was very upbeat about Jalil’s chances:

Frankie Dettori, the stable jockey, was not ruling out a more immediate climax. “I have been impressed by Curlin, very much so, but he is beatable,” Dettori said. “Every horse is. He has had to travel a long way. Jalil loves this track, seems to love the dirt, and every time we have put the bar up, he has risen to it. We haven’t got to the bottom of him yet.”

Indeed, few horses can be put forward for Jalil’s ‘most improved’ tag:

The son of Storm Cat looked an expensive flop last season – he cost $9.7m as a yearling – but has now progressed from a rating of 87 to being a serious contender to beat Curlin.

[Saaed bin Suroor] said: “Curlin is a star and I have a lot of respect for him, but Jalil is getting better with every race and he has climbed from a 95 horse to a 118-rated performer.”

But clearly Curlin’s connections are not worried. Assistant trainer Scott Blasi certainly seems happy with his preparations and then there’s primary owner (and we can ignore that pesky lawsuit for the moment), Jess Jackson:

“I want to establish Curlin for what I think he is,” Jackson said. “He’s one of the horses of the century.”

He continues with:

“If he wins an international race, the English won’t be able to claim they have three horses that are better than him. That’s what they did last year.”

(Of course, the Coolmore contingent can still claim they have bragging rights, since they don’t show up to Dubai, but it’s not much of an argument — it is, however, an entirely different story).

Among Jackson‘s ideas for improving the sport are a few that many in the TBA have championed, such as:

Jackson has other causes. He wants the fragmented sport to adopt a Major League of Racing, which would unify it under one governing body. He is passionate about horse safety and speaks at length about the merits of a zero-tolerance drug policy and limiting the racing of 2-year-olds. He has supported legislation that would prohibit the slaughter of horses for pet food.

While we may agree or disagree on the specifics, getting major owners involved in such discussions can only benefit the sport. Many thanks to Heather for the article!

Although anything can happen in horse racing (and often does), I anticipate a great race from Curlin. He clearly has a unique talent and we should relish the (increasingly rare) opportunity to see a potentially great horse in his prime take on the best in the world.

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