Nearly 1000 Entries for Inaugural Saudi Cup Program

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Midnight Bisou heads the American contingent for the $20-million Saudi Cup | Sarah Andrew

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The inaugural US$29.2-million Saudi Cup program, to be held at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in the capital of Riyadh Saturday, Feb. 29, has attracted 964 entries from connections of horses from all corners of the globe.

The meeting’s centerpiece is the $20-million Saudi Cup at 1800 meters on dirt and attracted over 140 nominations from 60 different trainers from four continents, representing 16 countries.

The world’s richest horse race has entries from Argentina, Bahrain, Japan, Korea, Poland and Turkey, but American runners figure to take all the beating. Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute), a shoe-in for the champion older female Eclipse Award, heads a trio of ‘Killer Ms,’ a group that also includes likely champion 3-year-old Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) and Eclipse finalist and ‘TDN Rising Star’ McKinzie (Street Sense). Other names of note from the U.S. include ‘Rising Star’ Gift Box (Twirling Candy), his stablemate Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro), Mo Forza (Uncle Mo), Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}), GI Belmont S. hero Sir Winston (Awesome Again), GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run (Hard Spun), Tacitus (Tapit) and Tax (Arch).

Some interesting names appear among the foreign entries, including champion Japanese dirt horse Chrysoberyl (Jpn) (Gold Allure {Jpn}; Korean-based Blue Chipper (Tiznow), third in the Dirt Mile; fellow Korean star Dolkong (Afleet Alex); Godolphin turf stars Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}); GI Belmont S. and G1 Dubai World Cup runner-up Gronkowski (Lonhro {Aus}); Magic Wand (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}); and Japanese turf G1SW Mozu Ascot (Frankel {GB}).

“The response to the Saudi Cup from the international racing community has been fantastic,” said Tom Ryan, Director of Strategy and International Racing for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia. “We couldn’t be happier with the entries that we’ve received and we are now fully focused on putting on a spectacular first Saudi Cup race day to live up to the calibre of these entries.”

Stayers Go For Night’s Second-Biggest Pot…

At US$2.5 million, the Red Sea Turf H. is the night’s next-richest event, for which weights have already been assigned.

Last seen getting the better of Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) in the G2 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October, Kew Gardens (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) could make his 5-year-old debut in the 3000-meter test. The 62kg (136 pounds) highweight could square off with the likes of 2018 G1 Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}, 61.5kg); the now Dubai-based 2018 G1 Investec Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee (GB) (Farhh {GB}, 61.5kg); and the globe-trotting Prince of Arran (GB) (Shirocco {Ger}, 59kg), placed in the Flemington feature in 2018 and 2019.

More Big Names On the Undercard…

A potentially more attractive and logical spot for Benbatl is the Neom Turf Cup, to be held over 2100 meters of the newly installed turf course at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack. Aidan O’Brien has given reigning Investec Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) an entry, as well as stablemate Circus Maximus (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Magic Wand and Mount Everest (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Japan’s Deirdre (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}), who traveled the world with credit in 2019, is also nominated to the $1-million race, as is Jockey Club Oaks Invitational winner Edisa (Kitten’s Joy). The Todd Pletcher-trained Channel Cat (English Channel) and Mo Forza could fly the U.S. flag.

The $1.5-million Riyadh Dirt Sprint (1200m) is headlined by top American short-tracker Imperial Hint (Imperialism) and fellow American-bred Firenze Fire (Poseidon’s Warrior). Gladiator King (Curlin), last-out winner of the G3 Dubawi S. at Meydan, has been entered alongside Kimbear (Temple City), who took the G3 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 1 over 1600 meters Jan. 9. Blue Chipper has proven equally adept at sprint trips, having won the Keeneland Korea Sprint, while multiple Japanese GSW sprinter Copano Kicking (Spring At Last) has also been given a longshot entry.

Bound For Nowhere (The Factor) and Shekky Shebaz (Cape Blanco {Ire}) could take in the $1-million 1351 Turf Sprint at that about seven-furlong trip, while the $800,000 Saudi Derby (1600m) has attracted recent GIII Sham S. runner-up Azul Coast (Super Saver), ‘TDN Rising Stars’ Chestertown (Tapit) and Shoplifted (Into Mischief) from the Steve Asmussen barn and Japan-based, but American-conceived Danon Pharaoh (Jpn) (American Pharoah).

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