Math Wizard's priorities shift from Saudi Cup to trainer's chagrin

January 27, 2020 04:37pm

Grade 1 winner Math Wizard returned to the work tab Monday, but that the race for which he’s training for remains unclear has become a source of frustration for his trainer.

Saffie Joseph Jr. said that based on what he’s been told by race officials, “we’re most definitely not going to get an invitation” to the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 29.

“I don’t know how,” he added. “I don’t understand it — how they let turf horses get in front of dirt horses. I think it’s a little bit of a farce how they’ve handled it.”

While a preference list for the Saudi Cup hasn’t been released, Joseph was likely alluding to Monday’s news that Aidan O’Brien may point Magic Wand to the race off a runner-up finish in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). A 5-year-old with one Group 1 win, Magic Wand has consistently run at the highest level over the lawn but never on dirt.

The Saudi Cup will be limited to 14 starters, with a handicapper assigning a rating to each horse entered or supplemented that will serve as a basis for selection. Nick Esler, an International Racing Bureau representative, said a meeting was underway Monday to discuss Saudi Cup day fields, and that a news release was forthcoming this week.

“All they tell us is that we’re way down on the list,” Joseph Jr. said, adding that “they’ve been very disorganized.”

The former claimer Math Wizard earned multiple graded stakes placings once in Joseph’s care last year before scoring a 31-1 upset in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). He most recently finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.

In lieu of a return in the Saudi Cup, Math Wizard, a newly turned 4-year-old by Algorithms, could instead target Oaklawn Park’s Grade 3, $500,000 Razorback. It runs around two turns at 1 1/16 miles, whereas the Saudi Cup is a 1 1/8-mile event around one turn.

Math Wizard breezed a half mile in 49.28 seconds at Gulfstream Park in his first drill since Jan. 12. Back in December he spiked a fever, missed a work and from there was a longshot to make it in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) on dirt.

American-based horses expected to run in the Saudi Cup include Maximum Security, McKinzie Midnight Bisou, Mucho Gusto and Tacitus. War Story, third behind Mucho Gusto in the Pegasus, could be supplemented. A number of other U.S. horses appeared on the list of “entries,” essentially free nominations, with the majority from overseas interests.

2020 Saudi Cup


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