Robby Albarado salutes the crowd as he eases Curlin over the line to win the Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: American horses continued their dominance of the Dubai World Cup when Curlin, the 2007 Horse of the Year, won the 13th renewal of Dubai’s signature race by a record margin.

Curlin’s trainer Steve Asmussen did a smart thing by sending out his stable star early to Dubai to give him time to acclimatise and also run in a prep race. Not many previous winners of the Dubai World Cup followed this practice.

An impressive winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park, Curlin lined up with five rivals to contest the a modest race, the Jaguar Handicap over 2,000m on February 28.

Among his main rivals were Godolphin’s Familiar Territory and the Argentine-bred and South African=trained Engrupido.

With regular partner Robby Albarado in the saddle, the handsome four-year-old chestnut colt showed why he is held in high regard by his trainer and the American racing public with a professional display of power running at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.

Having tracked the leader, Godolphin’s Imperialista ridden by UAE champion jockey Ted Durcan, he raced wide for most of the 2,000 metre distance before before easing forward to take the lead at the two furlong marker.

It was a lead he would not surrender and crossed the finish line a record seven-and-three-qurter lengths clear of 2007 UAE Derby hero Asiatic Boy and another American raider, the Eoin Harty-trained Well Armed, who would have his day the next year.

This was the first and only victory in the Dubai World Cup for two-time Eclipse Award-winning handler Asmussen and Louisiana native Albarado, who has won over 5,000 races in his career.

Curlin was named after Charles Curlin, an African American slave from western Kentucky who fought for the Union Army in the American Civil War.

In August 2008, Timeform gave him a 134 rating and labelled him the best horse in the world on dirt.

Curlin won the Eclipse Award for older male horse of the year and for the second year in a row was named Horse of the Year and joined racing legends such as Secretariat, Affirmed and Cigar as the only horses to win the award consecutively since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971.

He was also elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2014.