Curlin, winner of the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic, will continue to race this year, his owner says, and the colt's name immediately shot to the top of the contenders' list for the March 29 Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race.
Curlin's status had been in doubt because of legal issues and the risk of continued racing for a potentially valuable stallion.
But, in accepting Curlin's Eclipse Award as 2007 "Horse of the Year" on Monday night in Los Angeles, owner Jess Jackson said those considerations were set aside in the best interest of the sport.
"I want to make the poetry in motion that is racing come alive," he said. "And, since we need it so badly, we have decided to race Curlin again this year."
Curlin also won an Eclipse Award as the top 3-year-old of the year in North America and currently is the world's top-rated horse still in training. He won six of nine starts last year, finishing first in the Preakness Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup in addition to the Classic.
Jackson did not specifically say Curlin will ship to Dubai for the World Cup although that would be a logical target for him. The colt has not raced since the Breeders' Cup Classic, Powered by Dodge, at Monmouth Park last October and is training at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Curlin's nomination to the Dubai World Cup, which carries a $6 million purse, is only the headline for that day of racing at Nad Al Sheba race course in Dubai. Top runners from as far afield as Japan, Brazil, France, Turkey, Macau and Bahrain are among the nominees. The other four events on the World Cup card enjoy equally deep pools of nominees.
Frank Gabriel Jr., chief executive officer of the Dubai Racing Club, referred to the role of older horses in summing up the World Cup field.
"What is particularly rewarding," Gabriel said, "is that a number of horses who competed last year are set to return and it shows that many horsemen are keen to keep their horses in training now and target international meetings such as this one.
"We are likely to see a lot of horses who ran in the Breeders' Cup, Japan Cup and Hong Kong International meetings at the end of last year, then competing here," Gabriel added. "It shows how strong and thriving the international racing scene is."
Jackson, again discussing the decision to keep Curlin in training, agreed in his separate assessment.
"I encourage everyone in the industry to work together to boost the marketing, the ethics and the sincerity of the sport so that we can bring in the fans to enjoy the theater gthat this sport provides," he said.
Other Eclipse Award winners:
2-year-old male -- War Pass
2-year-old filly -- Indian Blessing
3-year-old filly -- Rags to Riches
Older male -- Lawyer Ron
Older female -- Ginger Punch
Female sprinter -- Maryfield
Male sprinter -- Midnight Lute
Male turf horse -- English Channel
Female turf horse -- Lahudood
Owner -- Shadwell Stable
Breeder -- Adena Springs
Jockey -- Garrett Gomez
Apprentice jockey -- Joe Talamo
Trainer -- Todd Pletcher