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2020 Saudi Cup Workouts


McKinzie schools in the gate Thursday morning with trainer Bob Baffert.
Date: 02/27/2020

On Thursday morning in Riyadh, entrants for the inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup and its rich undercard were at King Abdulaziz Racetrack on the main track. It was similar to Wednesday with temperatures in the mid 60's during training hours and a daytime high of 75, with the main track remaimning fast and the turf course still good-to-firm. The races will be run Saturday evening (Saturday morning in North America), with the Saudi Cup going to post at 8:40pm local time (12:40pm ET). In North America the full card will be broadcast live on TVG in the USA and HPI in Canada. In addition, FOX Sports 1's show will start at noon featuring the main event only. The Saudi Cup will be contested at 1800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) around one turn of the 1 1/4 mile main track.

Here are photos and comments for 41 horses that were out Thursday morning plus 2 bonus horses from Friday morning. Please click the smaller photos to see a larger version.


Benbatl (Saudi Cup) was finally out on Friday morning for an easy canter with fellow Saeed bin Suroor trainee Final Song, who runs in the Samba Saudi Derby. Bin Suroor said, "It will be a very important race and we hope he runs well. You have seen his results in the past - he always runs well, whether in England, Australia or Dubai or anywhere. He has that Group 1 class like some of our best horses (have had)."
Capezzano (Saudi Cup) arrived late Wednesday and visited the dirt track at 8:00am. "Both of the horses arrived in very excellent condition," trainer Salem bin Ghadayer said. "Capezzano and Gronkowski are both very talented horses and Gronkowski had a very good draw. Unfortunately, Capezzano is far out, but we must work with it now and prepare the horse for the race. It’s not a big deal. He has natural speed and can choose his position."

Chrysoberyl (Saudi Cup) cantered steadily for half a lap on the dirt track at 7:10am. "He lost about 20kg during his journey to Saudi Arabia, which was an initial concern, but he was very relaxed today. He has been eating very well for the couple of days, so his condition is getting better. Christophe Soumillon will breeze him tomorrow," trainer Hidetaka Otonashi said. After drawing post 10, Otonashi added, "I didn't want an inside draw so 10 should be OK. I will meet with Christophe (Soumillon, jockey) tomorrow and discuss tactics then."

Gold Dream (Saudi Cup) galloped over the dirt track on Thursday morning. "He is keeping his form well and is very fit," said trainer Osamu Hirata. Everything has gone as planned. He has been eating well. I'm very happy with him."

Gronkowski (Saudi Cup) arrived late Wednesday and visited the dirt track at 8:00am. "Both of the horses arrived in very excellent condition," trainer Salem bin Ghadayer said. "Capezzano and Gronkowski are both very talented horses and Gronkowski had a very good draw. Unfortunately, Capezzano is far out, but we must work with it now and prepare the horse for the race. It’s not a big deal. He has natural speed and can choose his position."

Magic Wand (Saudi Cup) stepped out on to the dirt track for the first time on Thursday morning and cantered 7f. "Magic Wand seems to be in good form and she cantered on the track for the first time this morning," trainer Aidan O’Brien said from Ireland. "Pat Keating, our travelling head man, and Yvonne (Zurcher) who rode Magic Wand, were very happy with her. She seems to love travelling and everything seems good."

Maximum Security (Saudi Cup) came out on the dirt track and galloped for 1 mile. "He didn't seem to be blowing much when he came off the track after going a mile in 1.59.73," trainer Jason Servis said. "Regarding the draw, it was great and we will decide how to handle the race in the paddock."
McKinzie (Saudi Cup) schooled in the starting gate and then galloped once around. Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert said, "They both stood well yesterday. We wanted to bring them up again today to get them used to not having a handler in the stall with them unlike in the US. After they stand they’ll gallop an easy mile and a quarter."
Midnight Bisou (Saudi Cup) schooled in the starting gate and then galloped once around. Co-owner Jeff Bloom said, "Travelling over here really took nothing out of her and she’s trained exceptionally well since she got here. The two biggest advantages for our filly is the track configuration – the one-turn mile and an eighth really was intriguing to us and there’s very little kick back on (the dirt track) and that should be of value to our filly (speaking of her running style)."
Mucho Gusto (Saudi Cup) schooled in the starting gate and then galloped once around. Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert said, "They both stood well yesterday. We wanted to bring them up again today to get them used to not having a handler in the stall with them unlike in the US. After they stand they’ll gallop an easy mile and a quarter."

North America (Saudi Cup) stretched his legs on the dirt on Thursday morning after arriving from home late on Wednesday morning. Trainer Satish Seemar said, "My biggest attraction for this race is the distance. This is his best trip. He has won at a mile, 1900m and 2000m and has a lot of speed, so 1800m around one turn is perfect for him. I have not had any luck with him on (Dubai World Cup day), so maybe a change of scenery could be what does it for him."

Tacitus (Saudi Cup) had an easy gallop shortly after 7.am on Thursday morning according to Riley Mott, son of and assistant to trainer Bill. The elder Mott was on hand to supervise, having arrived in Saudi Arabia late Wednesday evening. Tacitus is expected to gallop again on Friday.

Cross Counter (Longines Turf Handicap) winner of the 2018 Melbourne Cup (G1) comes here off an 8th place finish when attempting to repeat in the 2019 edition. The Charlie Appleby trainee drew the rail as the 9-5 morning line favorie with William Buick in the irons.

Delphinia (Longines Turf Handicap) was originally expected to run but did not make the field.

True Self (Longines Turf Handicap) did her final piece of fast work on the dirt track. "My people over with True Self have been very happy with the horse since they arrived," the renowned trainer Willie Mullins reported. "She has travelled well and they have been very pleased with her progress every day since arriving. She worked on the dirt track this morning and we are very happy with her."

Twilight Payment (Longines Turf Handicap) cantered 7 furlongs with his stablemates Downdraft and Speak in Colours.
For The Top (Neom Turf Cup) is a 20-1 outsider for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer. He comes here off a 6th place finish in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan. Mickael Barzalona gets the call for owner Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid al Nuaimi from post 3.

Intellogent (Neom Turf Cup) came onto the dirt track accompanied by a pony. He went for a jog and his work rider said: "He is in good form. He travelled well and everything is fine."

Mount Everest (Neom Turf Cup) cantered with the rest of the Aidan O'Brien team. Ryan Moore gets the call out of post 1, off his 14th and last place finish in the Hong Kong Vase (G1).

Port Lions (Neom Turf Cup) galloped on Thursday. Trainer Fawzi Nass said, "He arrived here yesterday and I will keep it very simple for the rest of the week. He did his last big bit of work in Bahrian before he left and will have a slow canter on the turf track tomorrow."

Royal Youmzain (Neom Turf Cup) came onto the dirt track on Thursday morning. His trainer Andreas Wohler, who is on his way to Saudi Arabia, confirmed: "Everything seems to be going well and my lad is happy with the horse."

Trais Fluors (Neom Turf Cup) comes here off an 11th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1). Jockey Billy Lee gets the call for trainer Ken Condon out of post 5.

Bella Fever (Saudi Derby) is undefeated in 5 career starts, and comes here off a win in the Meydan Classic Trial. New jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. rides for trainer Mike De Kock out of post 13.

Billy Batts (Saudi Derby) went out for a slow leg stretch with Peter Miller stablemates Ghoul and Captain Scotty. Miller, who was in the United States and thus unable to attend the Wednesday evening reveal of the barrier draws, was happy with the results when reached via text afterwards. "I like all my draws," said the 53-year-old Miller. "Captain Scotty and Billy Batts should be forwardly placed; Ghoul would be mid-pack in a perfect world." As for Thursday activity, assistant Kenny Blank reported: "Ghoul and Billy Batts had an easy jog. Captain Scotty walked and we’re pretty much ready to go. Nothing exciting, which is good."

Cherokee Trail (Saudi Derby) cantered on the main track at 7:10am in company with stablemate Mishriff. Thady Gosden, assistant to father John said, "They have both been out on the track yesterday and today and have easy canters over around 1400 metres. They have basically just been trotting since they got here and will do the same the next couple of days. They both arrived very early on Sunday and seem to be very much enjoying themselves."

Final Song (Saudi Derby) was finally out on Friday morning. She represents the UAE and Godolphin Racing for trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Bin Suroor said, "She's come back well from her last race and the filly is in good form and working well. I'm really happy with her and looking for a good run. We know she has ability, but it depends on how fast they go in the race. She finishes well and I'm happy with her, so I wanted to give her a chance. It's a nice race for her and she deserves a chance against the colts. She ran good races in England and has class. We'll see how she goes."

Lake Causeway (Saudi Derby) is still a maiden, coming here off a 4th place finish in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) at Meydan. Richard Mullen gets the call aboard the 30-1 outside for trainer Satish Seemar out of the 11 post.

Mishrif (Saudi Derby) cantered on the main track at 7:10am in company with stablemate Cherokee Trail. Thady Gosden, assistant to father John said, "They have both been out on the track yesterday and today and have easy canters over around 1400 metres. They have basically just been trotting since they got here and will do the same the next couple of days. They both arrived very early on Sunday and seem to be very much enjoying themselves."

Rowdy Yates (Saudi Derby) had an easy morning on Thursday as the Steve Asmussen son of Morning Line stood in the starting gate and followed with an easy gallop over the dirt track. Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen, said: "All good," and noted that the 3-year-old colt would have another easy go of it on Friday morning.

Dark Power (The 1351 Cup) is definitely a dark horse, as a 50-1 outsider on the morning line off a 3rd place finish in a Group 2 handicap in Bahrain. New rider Frankie Dettori gets the call for trainer Allan Smith from post 9.

Ghoul (The 1351 Cup) went out for a slow leg stretch with Peter Miller stablemates Billy Batts and Captain Scotty. Miller, who was in the United States and thus unable to attend the Wednesday evening reveal of the barrier draws, was happy with the results when reached via text afterwards. "I like all my draws," said the 53-year-old Miller. "Captain Scotty and Billy Batts should be forwardly placed; Ghoul would be mid-pack in a perfect world." As for Thursday activity, assistant Kenny Blank reported: "Ghoul and Billy Batts had an easy jog. Captain Scotty walked and we’re pretty much ready to go. Nothing exciting, which is good."

Glorious Journey (The 1351 Cup) won the Al Fahidi Fort (G2) at Meydan last out. William Buick rides for trainer Charlie Appleby from post 12 aboard the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Graignes (The 1351 Cup) led the first batch of horses out onto the track at just after 7am and he had a steady spin around on the turf course. "He cantered on the grass yesterday and has had a hack around this morning," said Baker. "He is in good order and has all of his fast work done. I really hope he can be competitive – it might be beyond our wildest dreams to see him win but I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run well and this has been the plan for a long time."

King Malpic (The 1351 Cup) went onto the turf track on Thursday morning, where he worked over 5f on his own. Jean-Christophe Phalip, the travelling head lad of Lemer, said: "He travelled really well, is eating up and seems in good form. It’s not his first trip and he is well acclimatised already."

Momkin (The 1351 Cup) is winless since July 2018 and unraced since 5th in the Prix du Pin (G3) at Longchamp in September. New jockey David Egan gets the call aboard the 8-1 shot for trainer William Haggas from post 11.

Royal Intervention (The 1351 Cup) went out on the turf. Trainer Ed Walker said, "She behaved badly, so that’s great news! She worked on the grass, just stretching out over 5f and quickening up over the last 2f. She’s very fit and it’s a strong race, but it’s not impossible."

Sir Dancealot (The 1351 Cup) is no stranger to foreign travel having experienced Hong Kong in December 2018 and will be having his first run since appearing at Longchamp in October. Andrew Morris, assistant to trainer David Elsworth said, "He feels great and has travelled well, having been out to Hong Kong before. He has taken it all in his stride. He can be a little keen on the track but the boss is happy which is the main thing."

Speak in Colours (The 1351 Cup) cantered 7 furlongs with his stablemates Downdraft and Twilight Payment. "Like Downdraft and Twilight Payment, Speak In Colours appears to be in good form over in Saudi Arabia," trainer Joseph O’Brien confirmed. "He just cantered over seven furlongs (1400m) on the dirt track this morning. He is drawn in stall three for the race and the course and distance should suit him."

Engage (Saudia Sprint) was pre-entered for the Sprint but did not make final entry. Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen said, "We had a little setback. I don't think it's anything major, but it's in his best interest that we don't run him."

Gladiator King (Saudia Sprint) brings the eye-catching orange and black silks of Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi into the race with no lack of confidence. "He's done nothing wrong," trainer Satish Seemar said. "He has a 100% record with us and since the day he got here at Zabeel (Racing Stables), he's been 100%. I know he's a solid Group 3 horse on paper at the moment and is going against some good Group 1 winners, but I feel we have an advantage because he's in great form and very fit."

Hajres (Obaiya Arabian Classic) did a gentle canter on the dirt track on Thursday morning. "He is really well and continues to please me. He is from Tunisia originally, so he likes the sun. So I don’t want him to come to the track too early, when it is still a bit chilly. It’s nice to have a good horse and to come here. I’m very excited about the race." said his trainer Elisabeth Bernard.

Wathabat Al Kalediah (Obaiya Arabian Classic) is a 20-1 longshot and drew the rail. Jockey Camilo Ospina gets teh call for trainer Sa'ad Mutlaq and owner Prince Khalid bin Sultan.

Ziyadd (Obaiya Arabian Classic) is a 9-2 contender off his win in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G1) at Meydan. Regular rider Richard Mullen gets the call from post 14 for trainer Jean De Roualle.

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