Updated: Saudi Cup field listed; majority of horses American

February 05, 2020 01:53pm
Updated: Saudi Cup field listed; majority of horses American
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA
Officials with the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world's richest horse race to run Feb. 29, on Wednesday morning listed an international field of 11 consisting mostly of American runners.

Champion 3-year-old Maximum Security will be joined by a pair of Bob Baffert trainees, McKinzie and the recent Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner Mucho Gusto. The 5-year-old mare Midnight Bisou is confirmed along with Juddmonte Farms homebred Tacitus and Gift Box, a dominant, repeat winner of Santa Anita Park's San Antonio Stakes (G2) in his most-recent start.

The internationals hail from three continents, with the globetrotting mare Magic Wand representing Europe; Benbatl and Gronkowski hailing from Dubai; and Chrysoberyl and Gold Dream entering from Japan.

The establishment of the Saudi Cup is a great moment in the history of horse racing in Saudi Arabia," said Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, "and I am gratified that the global racing community has embraced our new concept with such enthusiasm."
Thursday's Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) at Meydan is expected to include both of the Dubai-based runners. Godolphin's Benbatl will make the race his dirt debut, while Gronkowki will run second off the bench after a runner-up performance in the 2019 Dubai World Cup (G1). Post time is 11:50 a.m. ET.

The Americans have each run for the last time before the 1 1/8-mile Saudi Cup, which goes around one turn at 
at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh. McKinzie, Midnight Bisou and Tacitus will all exit layoffs in the race, while Maximum Security was last seen winning the Cigar Mile (G1) in December. Gift Box's camp has apparently decided to travel rather than stay home for the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap (G1). Mucho Gusto, meanwhile, is back to the track since his Pegasus victory on Jan. 25.

Purses on Saudi Cup day will total $29.2 million. Among the other features expected to attract American entries are a $1.5 million dirt sprint and $800,000 Derby. Turf races will run over a new course installed for this program.

This featured Saudi Cup field was whittled down from 140 nominations, with horses prioritized based on ratings set by an in-house handicapper. The fields
for each race will be completed with the addition of two local runners, which will be selected following Saturday's local Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

“Since the launch of the Saudi Cup less than seven months ago, the level of support and assistance we have received from our friends in the world of horse racing has been quite overwhelming," said Tom Ryan, director of strategy for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia. "I could not be happier with the quality of the horses set to contest our big races in just over three weeks’ time."

Saudi Cup day races will run Lasix-free.

Here's a closer look at the fields, which are subject to change:

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