Saudi Cup Meeting Attracts Entries From 15 Countries

White Abarrio | Benoit

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The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) has released the names of the 1162 entries–including 41 Grade I/Group 1 winners–from no fewer than 15 racing jurisdictions around the world for the US$33.5 million Saudi Cup meeting to be held at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Prize money is up by $2.25 million as compared to the 2023 renewal, reflecting the upgrades of the Neom Turf Cup (2100mT) and 1351 Turf Sprint to international Group 2 status. One of the two races for Purebred Arabians–the Al Mneefah Cup– has been accorded Group 1 status for the first time.

White Abarrio (Race Day) is chief among the entries for the $20-million G1 Saudi Cup. The Rick Dutrow, Jr. runner is doing his preparations in California for the 1800-meter test, where he could face Derma Sotogake (Jpn) (Mind Your Biscuits), whom he defeated when last seen in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in early November. The Japanese–which have 110 entries across the races–could also be represented by reigning G1 Dubai World Cup winner and Breeders' Cup Classic fifth Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) as well as Godolphin's Japanese champion dirt horse Lemon Pop (Lemon Drop Kid), who earned a spot in the Saudi Cup field when winning the G1 Champions Cup in December. National Treasure (Quality Road), victorious in last year's GI Preakness S., is one of five entries for trainer Bob Baffert, who has also nominated GI Malibu S. winner Speed Boat Beach (Bayern) and Zedan Racing Stable's Hejazi (Bernardini), runner-up in that seven-furlong test Dec. 26. The Brad Cox barn could be represented by Saudi-owned GI Pennsylvania Derby winner Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming), while Scotland Yard (Quality Road) is among the chief local chances. Aidan O'Brien has entered Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) and Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}) for what would be their dirt debuts in the Saudi Cup.

Japan's Silver Sonic (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) carried 125 pounds to victory in last year's G3 Longines Red Sea Turf Cup H., but if he is to defend his title in the $2.5-million contest, he will need to tote 134 against a field in which G1 Grosser Preis von Berlin winner Simca Mille (Ire) (Tamayuz {GB}) is top-weighted at 136 pounds. The 3000-meter staying test has also attracted G2 Yorkshire Cup hero Giavellotto (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}, 133), Godolphin's group/graded winner Siskany (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}, 133), the Dermot Weld-trained 9-year-old G3 Loughbrown S. winner Falcon Eight (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}, 129), Enemy (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}, 126) and G3 Bahrain Trophy second Tower of London (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) for Ballydoyle.

The connections of Simca Mille could opt for the G2 Neom Turf Cup, a $2-million race over an extended mile and a quarter. John and Thady Gosden sent out Mostahdaf (GB) (Frankel {GB}) to a barnstorming win in last year's race and the father-and-son partnership has Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training acquisition Jack Darcy (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) engaged. Luxembourg holds a Neom Turf Cup entry, while narrow GI Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Mawj (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) has also been handed this stamina-stretching option by Saeed bin Suroor. Spirit Dancer (GB) (Frankel {GB}) could try to make it consecutive wins in the race for his sire, having most recently defeated the Gosdens' Israr (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) and Point Lonsdale in the G2 Bahrain International Trophy back in November. American entries include Missed the Cut (Quality Road), unplaced when well-fancied last year, and the consistent Webslinger (Constitution).

America's Casa Creed (Jimmy Creed) has endured a pair of excruciating defeats in the 1351 Turf Cup and could return for a third attempt at the race, as he remains in training into an 8-year-old campaign in 2024. The globetrotting Bathrat Leon (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) dropped his head down on the line first in last year's race for trainer Yoshito Yahagi and could be back to defend his title against a group that could also include Saudi Arabia's Raaed (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), a cracking third last year, Godolphin's Real World (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), Amo Racing's Walbank (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), an impressive handicap winner over 1200 metres at Meydan for George Boughey Jan. 5, and Forbidden Kingdom (American Pharoah), all-the-way winner of the GII Joe Hernandez S. for MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm at Santa Anita Dec. 30.

Japanese runners have proved formidable in the G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint and a strong team includes Remake (Jpn) (Lani), who was a good third to the now-retired top American sprinters Elite Power (Curlin) and Gunite (Gun Runner) in the 1200-meter test last February. The North Hills homebred was last seen finishing runner-up to Igniter (Jpn) (Espoir City {Jpn}) in the valuable Listed JBC Sprint at Ohi Racecourse in November, and he also holds an entry. Speed Boat Beach could be re-routed for this shorter option, while other entries from the US include reigning G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen hero Sibelius (Not This Time), the in-form Bold Journey (Hard Spun) for 2023 winning conditioner Bill Mott, Forbidden Kingdom, Hejazi and recent Oaklawn allowance winner Skelly (Practical Joke). Last year's Saudi Derby winner Commissioner King (Commissioner) features among the local Sprint contingent.

Over 200 entries were taken for the G3 Saudi Derby going a metric mile on the dirt. Zedan Racing's 'TDN Rising Star' Muth (Good Magic), recent winner of the GII San Vicente S. for Bob Baffert, has been given an entry as has his Grade I-placed stable companion Wine Me Up (Vino Rosso) and San Vicente runner-up Pilot Commander (Justify). Yahagi's Group 3 winner and Group 1-placed Shin Emperor (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) holds an entry as does his stablemate Forever Young (Jpn) (Real Steel {Jpn}), who appears set to make the journey to the desert after convincingly defeating Aigle Noir (Jpn) (Bricks and Mortar) in the Listed Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki last month. An intriguing possibility from the Weld yard is Taraj (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}), placed in one of two starts on the turf and a latest maiden winner going a mile over the Dundalk all-weather Nov. 24. Among the locals, Saudi Neom (Connect) is among the possibles, having run his record to two wins and a second from three runs with a victory over the Derby course and distance Jan. 6.

Top Qatari galloper Bolthole (Ire) (Free Eagle {Ire}), third in last year's Listed H. H. The Amir Trophy and winner of a Class 2 conditions race over 2000 metres at Al Rayyan Jan. 4 for Wathnan Racing and Alban de Mieulle, is the joint-highweight for the $500,000 Saudi International H. (90-110) over 2100 metres on the grass.

Click here for the full list of entries.

 

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