Not long after dawn broke on Friday morning in Dubai, Scott Blasi decided to change plans with Curlin.
Instead of taking the Horse of the Year to the main track at Nad Al Sheba - where Curlin will try to capture the $6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on Saturday - he opted to venture to the more secluded training track for the colt's final pre-race gallop.
While there were many disappointed fans and reporters who didn't get to see Curlin due to the unexpected switch, Blasi said he was pleased with the colt's one-mile gallop, which was more relaxed far from the whir of cameras and the chatter of onlookers at the busier main track.
"My job is to get him to the race as best as we can," Blasi explained later. "We've been really accessible to the media, but when it comes down to it, we've got to do what's best for the horse. He just had a nice, quiet morning and right now, he's standing in his stall safe and happy, and that's my main objective."
Indeed, keeping Curlin happy has been about Blasi's only objective for approximately a month and a half as he has lived in Dubai with the colt, attending to all his needs. Although the Kansas native who is used to overseeing dozens of horses for trainer Steve Asmussen has jokingly likened the experience to the movie Groundhog Day, in which each day is a repetition of the previous one, he has dealt with the stress of handling every detail for the horse rated the world's best while maintaining his sense of humor.
"We've trained him to win," he said simply. "Everything has gone right on schedule."
Yet during a special press conference with the international media on Friday, after which he was sought for interviews with Australian television and English radio stations, Blasi admitted that "there is a tremendous amount of pressure."
Shortly afterward, he was laughing, however, saying that when gets asked questions he doesn't particularly want to answer he responds by "talking in circles."
"I used to get really nervous early on," he said more seriously of his experience in the spotlight. "But now I just try to answer questions truthfully."
It's clearly evident that Blasi regards Curlin as a breed apart from the other horses he has handled and that he views this rather strange interlude in his life as a step toward that rare plateau in racing to which only exceptional horses can carry those associated with them.
When asked about why Dubai World Cup has been selected as the path to that goal, he mentioned the legendary status of previous winners like Cigar and Dubai Millennium.
"We just feel like Curlin is a great horse and he needs every chance to prove it," Blasi declared. "He has a chance to define himself in that manner on Saturday night."