Senor Campeon! Senor Buscador Takes A Dramatic Saudi Cup

Senor Buscador | Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia

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After running home bravely to just miss reeling in National Treasure (Quality Road) in last month's $3-million GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S., it did not take long for the human braintrust around Senor Buscador (Mineshaft) to accept an invitation to the world's richest race, the $20-million G1 Saudi Cup half a world away.

And why not?

The 6-year-old admittedly had a bit to find on form with each of his four fellow American participants, but it wasn't as if he'd been dreadful in defeat in those efforts. Not when a running-on seventh behind White Abarrio (Race Day) in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic. Not when runner-up to loose-on-the-lead Hoist the Gold (Mineshaft) in the GII Cigar Mile H., and certainly not in the Pegasus. He drew a nice gate in four at Wednesday's post position draw and, on paper at least, the Saudi Cup race flow seemed to favor horses capable of switching off early and saving their best for a final-furlong flurry. The pace got hot, as predicted, and Senor Buscador–who was racing over the 13th different racetrack in the 18th start of his career–took full advantage, running down reigning G1 Dubai World Cup hero Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) and a brave pacesetter in the form of the locally owned Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming), capping a brilliant and often-thrilling evening of racing in the Saudi capital.

Senor Buscador, who carried the silks of local owner Sharaf Mohammed Al Hariri in a deal brokered with joint-owner Joe Peacock, Jr. in time for this race, was allowed to find his stride and raced in the company of the slow-starting Ushba Tesoro at the back of the field, as Saudi Crown showed the way and was kept honest by National Treasure, Hoist the Gold and King's Cup winner Power in Numbers (Girvin) deep on the track. White Abarrio, making his first start since defeating Derma Sotogake (Jpn) (Mind Your Biscuits) at Santa Anita, was well-spotted behind the leaders and just to the outside of the UAE galloper Isolate (Mark Valeski).

From a virtual standing start, the first 400 meters were posted in :23.80 and the 800-meter split of :46.01 would have had the back markers licking their lips. Saudi Crown took the field into the turn and looked to be going much better than National Treasure, who was now vigorously ridden by Flavien Prat, and in the meantime, Ushba Tesoro had gotten the jump on Senor Buscador entering the final three furlongs. Having survived the the pace battle, it was time to win the war, and Saudi Crown went for home, but Ushba Tesoro and Senor Buscador were beginning to do their best work and began to chip away at the deficit. Saudi Crown held the call deep into the final 100 meters, and Ushba Tesoro speared through looking the winner, but Junior Alvarado conjured up one final surge from Senor Buscador, a move that failed at Gulfstream four weeks ago, but one that was worth $10 million this time around.

The final time of 1:49.50 established a new stakes record, just betting the mark of 1:49.59 set by Mishriff (GB) (Make Believe {GB}) in 2021.

“We got a bit unlucky the last two races on the track, very fast with speed horses, and I never like to change the style of horses,” said Alvarado. “I always had faith in the horse and we just needed, not even luck, just a fair track and I knew we would get that today. I'm very happy, very grateful for opportunities that come along.”

Added co-owner and breeder Joe Peacock, Jr.: “The one-turn mile and eighth [1800m] was right up his alley and a track that played fair. We can make excuses for him, he puts himself in that position getting dirt in his face but he sure tries to overcome it every time.

“A couple of weeks before the Pegasus we thought of The Saudi Cup. I was so adamant he would prove himself and he has. This ranks up there. This was big. We were excited about the opportunity. We felt the horse deserved the opportunity. It's amazing.”

Winning conditioner Todd Fincher indicated this year's World Cup about 600 miles of desert to the east in 35 days would be next, but that they will 'leave it up to the horse.'

White Abarrio failed to capitalize on his good trip and weakened out to finish 10th.

“Beautiful trip,” was the succinct post-mortem from Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Fincher's Crowning Moment

According to a story from the TDN's J. N. Campbell, Todd Fincher was born to a family of horsepeople in Denver, Colorado, and became a jockey, amassing better than $2 million in earnings. But he outgrew the saddle by 1997 and took out his training license in the following year–according to Equibase statistics, his runners earned $18,199 that year and about $700,000 over the next four seasons, but the fire had been lit.

Since 2009, the New Mexico-based outfit has never earned less than $1.4 million, and with the likes of Senor Buscador's GIII Sunland Park Derby-winning half-brother Runaway Ghost (Ghostzapper)–now a stallion in New Mexico–and Slammed (Marking) representing the stable in recent years, posted earnings north of $5.5 million in 2023. That topped his previous best of $4.5 million from 2022, when both Slammed and Senor Buscador competed in the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland.

And now–a $10-million payday thousands of miles from the Land of Enchantment.

“I'm about to cry, it's amazing,” Fincher said. “He never got the credit he deserved and he finally got to show it today. I didn't believe it, as something always happens to him in every race. He always has 10 or 11 horses to weave in and out of. We know he was going to run good, we just had to hope for the right set up. It's awesome.

“From New Mexico, we don't have the quality of horses very often but the stable is getting better now and they treated us great over here. I'm very excited about the opportunity and getting it done is unbelievable.”

Pedigree Notes:

At the age of 25, Lane's End's Mineshaft was being represented by his eighth Grade I winner, while Senor Buscador is the first elite-level scorer for Desert God (Fappiano), a son of Blush With Pride (Blushing Groom {Fr}), making him a half-brother to four stakes winners, including Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour (Deputy Minister). A mating between Mineshaft's late, great sire A.P. Indy and Better Than Honour resulted in GI Belmont S. winner Rags To Riches and her GII Peter Pan S.-winning and Group 1-placed close relative Casino Drive was also by Mineshaft.

Senor Buscador is the most accomplished foal from his remarkable dam, trained by Fincher for Joe Peacock, Sr. to no fewer than seven stakes wins at Sunland and Zia Park.

Rose's Desert is also the dam of the 3-year-old filly Aye Candy (Candy Ride {Arg}), victorious in her lone racetrack appearance at Zia Park last November, the 2-year-old filly Rose A (Hard Spun) and the yearling colt The Hell We Did (Authentic). She most recently visited the latter's sire Into Mischief.

What They're Saying

Yuga Kawada, jockey, Ushba Tesoro, second: “He was in good form and travelled nicely. He showed his run. The only thing he didn't do is win.”

Florent Geroux, Saudi Crown, third: “It was very comfortable up front, I was surprised. It was too far for him. He ran a big race. Obviously, he ran too hard to get beat. He did all the dirty work and I just got caught in the last 100m. Beautiful race.”

Flavien Prat, National Treasure, fourth: “I had a good trip and I thought he ran a good race. I was not travelling as well as last time. I think he ran hard last time, but still I'm very proud of him.”

Christophe Lemaire, Derma Sotogake, fifth: “With this number in the stalls, the horse didn't leave that quick. I could get a position on the inside and didn't lose any ground and the horse made good progress. I was at the back of the leaders in the final straight and I thought I could come with a big run to win, but this was a reappearance and he just couldn't finish it.”

Joel Rosario, Isolate, sixth: “Very good, he was in a good spot but he got a little tired in the end.”

Luis Saez, Defunded, seventh: “Broke well, he was in the right spot, but no horse to finish.”

Joao Moreira, Crown Pride, ninth: “He travelled very nice the first half of the race and all of a sudden he came off and he kept running, but he didn't bring his A-game.”

Camilo Ospina, Carmel Road, 11th: “He was wide from gate 14 but it was a very tough race.”

Adel Alfouraidi, Power In Numbers, 13th: “Very hard for him.”

John Velazquez, Hoist The Gold, 14th: “He broke well, but he didn't show up today.”

Saturday, King Abdulaziz (Riyadh), Saudi Arabia
SAUDI CUP-G1, $20,000,000, King Abdulaziz, 2-24, NH4yo/up, SH3yo/up, 1800m, 1:49.50, ft.
1–SENOR BUSCADOR, 126, h, 6, by Mineshaft
1st Dam: Rose's Desert (MSW, $626,035), by Desert God
2nd Dam: Miss Glen Rose, by Peaks and Valleys
3rd Dam: Snippet, by Alysheba
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O-Sharaf Mohammed Al Hariri & Joe R Peacock Jr; B-Joe Peacock Sr & Joe Peacock Jr (KY); T-Todd W Fincher; J-Junior Alvarado; $10,000,000. Lifetime Record: MGSW & MGISP-US, 18-7-2-2, $11,496,427. *1/2 to Runaway Ghost (Ghostzapper), GSW, $783,509; Sheriff Brown (Curlin), MSW, $603,681; and Our Iris Rose (Ghostzapper), SW, $307,880. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Ushba Tesoro (Jpn), 126, h, 7, Orfevre (Jpn)–Millefeui Attach (Jpn), by King Kamehameha (Jpn). (¥25,000,000 Wlg '17 JRHAJUL). O-Ryotokuji Kenji Holdings Co Ltd; B-Chiyoda Farm Shizunai; T-Noburu Takagi; J-Yuga Kawada; $3,500,000.
3–Saudi Crown, 126, h, 4, Always Dreaming–New Narration, by Tapit. ($45,000 Ylg '21 KEEJAN; $240,000 2yo '22 OBSAPR). O-FMQ Stables; B-CHC Inc (KY); T-Brad Cox; J-Florent Geroux; $2,000,000.
Margins: HD, 3/4, 3/4.
Also Ran: National Treasure, Derma Sotogake (Jpn), Isolate, Defunded, Scotland Yard, Crown Pride (Jpn), White Abarrio, Carmel Road, Lemon Pop, Power in Numbers, Hoist the Gold.
Click for the JCSA chart (R9).

 

 

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