Baffert Runners Draw Inside And Out For Saudi Cup

Last year's G1 Saudi Cup runner-up Country Grammer will break from post 10 Saturday | Benoit

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A field of 13 was drawn Wednesday evening in Riyadh for the $20-million G1 Saudi Cup, to be contested over 1800 meters under the lights Saturday at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in the Saudi capital.

Commonwealth Thoroughbreds, WinStar Farm and Zedan Racing's Country Grammer (Tonalist) is back for another tour of the Middle East, having missed by a half-length in this event 12 months ago before landing the G1 Dubai World Cup some 600 miles to the east in Dubai. In stark contrast to 2022, the 6-year-old, who will carry the Zedan colors, enters the Saudi Cup with a tightener under his belt, as he proved a convincing winner of the GII San Antonio S. at Santa Anita Dec. 26 when reunited with World Cup-winning rider Frankie Dettori. The retiring Italian will be back in the saddle from stall 10 Saturday.

Trainer Bob Baffert's second runner is Zedan's wholly owned 'TDN Rising Star' Taiba (Gun Runner), who will be ridden from gate two by Mike Smith, just to the outside of Japanese speedball Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) and inside of last year's G2 UAE Derby hero Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn}), who will once again have the services of Australia's Damian Lane. Taiba also last raced Dec. 26, streaking clear late to prove a much-the-best winner of the GI Runhappy Malibu S. He returns to the nine-furlong trip over which he scored in last year's GI Santa Anita Derby and GI Pennsylvania Derby.

The two commonly owned sons of Quality Road were the last two to be allotted their barriers, as the very progressive Scotland Yard drew the four, while defending champion Emblem Road was left with gate eight. Both enter the Cup on the heels of victories, and in the case of Emblem Road, a good-looking success in his first appearance since finishing well-beaten in his turf debut in the G3 Grand Prix de Vichy in July.

Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah) passed on a three-peat attempt in the G1 February S. over the weekend in favor of the Saudi Cup and will break from the widest alley in 13 with Joao Moreira at the controls.

The Saudi Cup-G1, $20,000,000, 4yo/up, 1800m (in post position order)

1–Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn})

2–Taiba (Gun Runner)

3–Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn})

4–Scotland Yard (Quality Road)

5–Sunset Flash (Ire) (Mayson {GB}) (f)

6–Jun Light Bolt (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn})

7–Remorse (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire})

8–Emblem Road (Quality Road)

9–Vin de Garde (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})

10–Country Grammer (Tonalist)

11-Lagertha Rhyme (Ire) (Gutaifan {Ire}) (f)

12–Geoglyph (Jpn) (Drefong)

13–Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah)

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