Saudi Cup 2023: Taiba, Country Grammer lead U.S. nominees

Saudi Cup 2023: Taiba, Country Grammer lead U.S. nominees
Photo: Alex Evers / Eclipse Sportswire

Coming off a win in the Malibu (G1), Taiba leads the U.S. nominees to the Group 1, $20 million Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Feb. 25.

The two-day 2023 Saudi Cup meeting has attracted just over 1,400 entries, of whom 600 are from overseas, with horses from 22 countries seeking glory and a share of the $35.35 million prize fund.

Five Group 3 races feature at the two-day meeting, alongside the world’s most valuable race, the Saudi Cup, as well as the newly upgraded Obaiya Arabian Classic (G1) and the 2 Al Mneefah Cup (G2) for purebred Arabians.

Emblem Road, the locally owned and trained winner of the 2022 Saudi Cup, is set to defend his title. A second victory would make the son of Quality Road the highest earning Thoroughbred in history, with $20.2 million, ahead of Australian wondermare Winx who totaled $18.3 million by the end of her career.

Horses from Japan, U.S. and United Arab Emirates dominate the entries across the two days, and there is strong representation once again from the U.K., Ireland, Argentina, France and Germany.

A total of 47 Grade and Group 1 winners could be set to take part. Among the U.S. entries are two strong Saudi-owned contenders, 2022 Saudi Cup runner-up and 2022 Dubai World Cup (G1) winner, Country Grammer, and Taiba, a three-time Grade 1 winner.

The 2022 Kentucky Derby winner, Rich Strike could also make the trip for a Saudi Cup showdown.

The UAE has the second-highest rated entry for The Saudi Cup in Charlie Appleby’s Rebel’s Romance, an impressive winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf when last seen.

Japan won four of the six international Thoroughbred races on Saudi Cup day last year, and the country’s bid for a first Saudi Cup could be led by the Yoshito Yahagi-trained Panthalassa and Tetsuya Kimura’s Geoglyph, while Jun Light Bolt holds an automatic entry after winning the Champions Cup (G1) at Chukyo in December.

Group 1 winner Laws of Indeces becomes the first Australian horse to enter The Saudi Cup, after being nominated by Sydney-based trainer Annabel Neasham.

There’s also a strong entry from Europe and South America with potential runners including Group 1 winners Saffron Beach, Order Of Australia and the Maria Muñoz-trained Niño Guapo.

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