Saudi Arabia remains America’s biggest Middle East ally and so when the country’s King Abdulaziz Racecourse announced the second renewal of world’s richest race, the $20m Saudi Cup it was no surprise the cream of the US crop were targeted for the nine-furlong contest.
12 months ago Maximum Security, controversially disqualified from first in the Kentucky Derby and then trained by Jason Servis, won the contest. He beat Steve Asmussen’s Midnight Bisou by three-parts of a length with American horses filling four of the first five places.
2021 Saudi Cup Odds
The 2021 Saudi Cup takes place on February 20th positioning it exactly four weeks after the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, which was staged at Gulfstream, and four weeks ahead of the $12 million Dubai World Cup in Meydan, Dubai. It is one of the biggest events of the racing calendar.
American racehorses have a great record in the Dubai World Cup too. They have won the race nine times since its inception in 1999 and the list includes some of the all-time greats such as Cigar, Curlin, California Chrome and Arrogate.
It was Knicks Go which landed the Pegasus World Cup. Stepping up to nine furlongs for the first time he looked awesome setting fast fractions, making all and winning ‘geared down’. The five year old is unbeaten four starts since joining Brad Cox and this late developing superstar will surely take all the beating if he arrives in Saudi Arabia in the same form.
Charlatan Looks the Danger
But there is set to be an unknown quantity in opposition as Bob Baffert is sending his Runhappy Malibu Stakes winner Charlatan to the race.
Charlatan has raced just three times winning the Arkansas Derby on his second start. That win was later taken away from Charlatan due to a positive sample but he was equally impressive in winning the Grade 1 Runhappy on Boxing Day and until he is beaten there is no saying how good he is.
Bill Mott is sending Tacitus, who finished fifth in the race last year. As is the case for races outside of the U.S. Lasix and Bute will not be allowed in the Saudi Cup (or Dubai World Cup).
And John Gosden, who started his career in America but now trains in England pointed out that this circuit probably favours horses starting from a wide draw. He saddles Mishriff who has only run on dirt once before, finishing second in the Saudi Derby at King Abdulaziz Racecourse a year ago. If you are looking beyond the strong American challenge, this could be the horse to bet.