American Horse of the Year Curlin was standing in the wash rack in his barn in the quarantine area of Nad Al Sheba Racecourse when the unmistakable sound of an explosion split the air.
"We were lucky he was in the wash rack because we could have had a problem if I was walking him," assistant trainer Scott Blasi said of the startling noise. Curlin had just finished a light gallop over the training track when the incident occurred shortly before 7:30 a.m.
Other American horses were training on the main Nad Al Sheba track when a mushroom cloud rose behind the grandstand following the blast, and trainers and riders were aghast.
Billowing black smoke smudged the glittering Dubai skyline as resulting fires burned for hours. News reports indicated that "a massive explosion" had occurred at a fireworks plant, causing a raging fire that destroyed four warehouses.
Two people were reported dead from the explosion.