White Abarrio, National Treasure Lead U.S. Challenge Into Saudi Cup

White Abarrio | Benoit


The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) has published the likely fields for the Saudi Cup meeting to be held Saturday, Feb. 24, at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

The United States is set to be represented by a five-strong entry in the $20-million richest race in the world, a team headed by White Abarrio (Race Day), who will be making his first start since besting Derma Sotogake (Jpn) (Mind Your Biscuits) in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 4. The 5-year-old, trained by Richard Dutrow, Jr., has remained in California since and has logged seven workouts dating back to Dec. 24, including a five-furlong drill that was timed in :59.60 (3/120) Feb. 3.

Also making the trip over from the states are National Treasure (Quality Road) and Senor Buscador (Mineshaft), first and second, respectively, in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 26; GII Cigar Mile H. hero and Pegasus fourth Hoist the Gold (Mineshaft); and Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming), last year's GI Pennsylvania Derby hero and recent winner of the GIII Louisiana S.

Derma Sotogake is one of five Japanese-based horses gearing up for the nine-furlong test and will be joined on the trip over by Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}), the 2023 G1 Dubai World Cup winner and a good fifth in the Classic; champion Japanese dirt horse and dual Group 1 winner Lemon Pop (Lemon Drop Kid); G2 UAE Derby and G3 Korea Cup victor Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn}); and multiple Group 3 winner Meisho Hario (Jpn) (Pyro).

Most intriguing among the probables is the globetrotting Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) for trainer Aidan O'Brien. A Group 1 winner at ages two, three and four in Europe, the 5-year-old will make his first start on the dirt, having just missed behind Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup Dec. 10.

The home team fields the remaining three runners, including the recently imported American Grade I winner Defunded (Dialed In); Power in Numbers (Girvin), undefeated in four starts in Saudi Arabia since selling for $400,000 at the 2023 Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age Sale; and Carmel Road (Quality Road), who aired by 7 1/2 lengths in a valuable 1600-meter race Jan. 13.

Emergency runners include the Doug Watson-trained 2023 G2 Godolphin Mile winner Isolate (Mark Valeski) and Scotland Yard (Quality Road), a close second to Power in Numbers in the King's Cup last time.

The probable starters for the remaining Saudi Cup races may be accessed here.


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