A dozen American horses arrived safely Wednesday evening in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, ahead of the $20 million Saudi Cup and stakes-laden undercard set for Feb. 29.
Maximum Security, Midnight Bisou, Mucho Gusto, McKinzie and Tacitus will represent the U.S. in the 1 1/8-mile Saudi Cup, which will run around one turn at King Abdulaziz Racetrack.
Nick Esler, a International Racing Bureau agent working with the Saudi Cup, tweeted that "everything ran smoothly," adding that he "can’t say enough (about) the fantastic job LG Bloodstock and (their) expert flying grooms have done getting there 12 American horses out here."
Esler indicated Europeans running on Saudi Cup day are due to arrive Thursday with their Dubai-based counterparts arriving this weekend.
The first Saudi Cup horses are here!
12 Saudi Cup day contenders from the USA, including Saudi Cup favourite Maximum Security, Mucho Gusto, Midnight Bisou and McKinzie touched down today.February 19, 2020
"I was in touch with the grooms on the flight so I had regular updates," Garrett Servis told Saudi Cup officials. "He drank half his water and ate half his feed."
Horses will remain in quarantine for 48 hours, making them presumably eligible to train Saturday morning. Training will be conducted in groups according to regions from which horses hail.
Showing off the stall space where Saudi Cup contenders will spend the next week-plus leading up to race day, Esler tweeted that "the horses are world class and the facilities more than match up. Horsemen and owners can be confident that there horses will be in a calm, professional, relaxed environment."
In addition to its Saudi Cup contenders, the U.S. will be represented in the $1.5 million Saudia Sprint (Imperial Hint, Engage, Captain Scotty); the $1 million 1351 Turf Sprint (Ghoul, Legends of War); and the $800,000 Saudi Derby (Billy Batts, Rowdy Yates).
Entrants on Saudi Cup day will be required to run without "prohibited substances" set out in Article 6 of the International Agreement of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. That includes the anti-bleeding medication Lasix.
The Saudi Cup will air on Fox Sports 1, with post time at 12:40 p.m. ET, following the undercard on Fox Sports 2. A race official has told Horse Racing Nation that advanced deposit wagering is expected to be offered through major U.S. providers.
Maximum Security just after he stepped off his flight to KSA pic.twitter.com/vD4TyBPhJ4— Nick Esler (@esler_nick) February 19, 2020
Midnight Bisou gets a bath as dusk starts to set in shortly after she arrives in Riyadh ! pic.twitter.com/DhysjIyxUN— Nick Esler (@esler_nick) February 19, 2020
Tacitus shipped well, straight into his grub a few hours after getting off the plane. Classy animal !! Great to see a horse out in Prince Khalid Abdullahs home country ready to compete in such a valuable race after the amazing support he’s shown our industry ! pic.twitter.com/vr4PQIb2HD— Nick Esler (@esler_nick) February 19, 2020