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2023 Saudi Cup Entries

The Saudi Cup trophy
Date: 2/22/2023

The world's richest horse race celebrates its fourth running at King Abdulaziz Racetrack on Saturday evening. The $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) is the final race of an 8-race card, scheduled to go to post at 8:35PM local time (12:35PM ET). A field of 13 older horses will contest this 1800 meter (about 1 1/8 mile) trip around one turn of the 1 1/4 mile dirt main track in Riyadh. The main event will be run as a Group 1 event for the second time, while most of the undercard stakes are Group 3.

Taiba is the 9-5 favorite off his win in the Malibu Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita after finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). Regular rider Mike Smith will be in the irons again for trainer Bob Baffert from post 2. Stablemate Country Grammer is the 4-1 second choice off his win in the San Antonio Stakes (G2) after finishing second in the Awesome Again (G1). Frankie Dettori breaks out of post 10 for Baffert. The 8-1 third choice is Jun Light Bolt out of post 6 for trainer Yasuo Tomomichi. He come here off wins in the Sirius Stakes (G3) and Champions Cup (G1) at Chukyo. New rider Ryan Moore gets the call on Saturday night.

Expected favorite Taiba gallops on the main track on Monday morning.
After drawing post 2 for favorite Taiba, trainer Bob Baffert said, "I think it's good to have a speed horse (Panthalassa) inside of him. He likes company, to run with another horse to get him into the race." Baffert then drew the 10 for second choice Country Grammer. He added, "He had the rail last year, it didn't bother him at all. Frankie Dettori knows the horse really well, I'm lucky to have two Hall of Fame jockeys."

The undercard kicks off with the Local Handicap for Saudi-breds and the Obaiya Arabian Classic for purebred Arabians, both run on the dirt. The graded stakes action begins with three turf races, starting with the Neom Turf Cup (G3) presented by Altanfeethi for older horses going 2100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles). Bet UK Churchill Stakes winner Missed the Cut should be heavily favored over September Stakes (G3) winner Mostahdaf. The 1351 Turf Sprint (G3) presented by stc is contested at 1351 meters (about 6 3/4 furlongs). Yasuda Kinen (G1) winner Songline and Hanshin Cup (G2) fourth place finisher Bathrat Leon are favored in this event. Closing out the turf action is the longest race on the card, the Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap (G3) at 3000 meters (about 1 7/8 miles). Trawlerman, third in the British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2), takes on Stayers Stakes (G2) winner Silver Sonic and 2021 Ascot Gold Cup (G1) winner Subjectivist. The Saudi Derby (G3) presented by Boutique Group is the only age-restricted race, for 3-year-olds going 1600 meters (about 1 mile). Bob Baffert sends in favorite Havnameltdown off wins in the Bob Hope (G3) and San Vicente (G2). New rider Frankie Dettori gets the call. The penultimate race is the Riyadh Dirt Sprint presented by Sports Boulevard over 1200 meters (about 6 furlongs). Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) winner Elite Power takes on Elite Power takes on Dancing Prince, winner of the JBC Sprint (G1) at Morioka.

Post Time
Race Name
7:45 a.m. ET
$1 million
Jockey Club Local Handicap
8:25 a.m. ET
$2 million
Obaiya Arabian Classic (Arabians)
9:05 a.m. ET
$1.5 million
Altanfeethi Neom Turf Cup (T)
9:45 a.m. ET
$1.5 million
STC 1351 Turf Sprint (T)
10:25 a.m. ET
$2.5 million
Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap (T)
11:05 a.m. ET
$1.5 million
Boutique Group Saudi Derby
11:45 a.m. ET
$1.5 million
Sports Boulevard Riyadh Dirt Sprint
12:35 p.m. ET
$20 million
Saudi Cup
Note that unlike in North America and Dubai, the saddlecloth numbers (used for wagering) do NOT correspond with post positions; the horses are numbered in handicap weight order, as is common in Europe and Australia. The Saudi Cup goes off at 12:35PM (all times Eastern), while the first race is the $1 million Jockey Club Local Handicap at 7:45AM. The table to the right has all the post times in Eastern.

Since betting is illegal in the Saudi Arabia, the international wagering hub is the Hong Kong "World Pool" and their rules apply. Win, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, and rolling Pick 3 wagering are the same as the American versions, however, there is no show pool but bets to place pay to third place, like a show bet normally would. Since Saudi Arabia won't do odds, the morning line odds shown below are from OddsChecker at time of writing.

The races will be shown live on FanDuel TV in the U.S. and HPI-TV in Canada, as well as at racetracks and simulcast sites. In addition, Fox Sports 2 will show the Saudi Cup card (races 2-8) starting at 8am ET.

Free past performances are available from Daily Racing Form, Equibase, and Hong Kong.

Below are the entries, post positions, and saddlecloth numbers for the Saudi Cup. Assigned weight is 57 kg (125.7 lb), except the mares Lagertha Rhyme and Sunset Flash who carry 55 kg (121.3 lb).

17PanthalassaY. YoshidaY. Yahagi14-1
210TaibaM. SmithB. Baffert9-5
33Crown PrideD. LaneK. Shintani12-1
49Scotland YardV. GutierrezM. Almulawah20-1
513Sunset FlashA. AlsarhaniN. Almandeel50-1
66Jun Light BoltR. MooreY. Tomomichi8-1
78RemorseT. O'SheaB. Seemar33-1
84Emblem RoadA. MorenoM. Almulawah16-1
911Vin de GardeM. BarzalonaH. Fujiwara33-1
102Country GrammerL. DettoriB. Baffert4-1
1112Lagertha RhymeR. FerreiraN. Almandeel40-1
125GeoglyphC. LemaireT. Kimura16-1
131Cafe PharoahJ. MoreiraN. Hori14-1

Left: Japanese dirt champion Cafe Pharoah drew the far outside 13 post. Chris Nol, representing owner Koichi Nishikawa said, "We've got a long run to the first turn so we're not worried about the draw. We're not worried about the distance, we'll have no problems with that. He's travelled well and everything's on target at the moment." Naoto Suzuki, assistant to trainer Noriyuki Hori added, "The course has a long back stretch and therefore I don't feel any disadvantage in the outside gate. Perhaps it will be better than inside as he won't get in a traffic jam."

Right: Geoglyph drew post 12. Trainer Tesuya Kimura said, "It's the first time to run on dirt and we don't want him to get too much kickback, so the draw should be preferable for me. He should handle the dirt surface pretty well on his pedigree and he's handling it well in training."

Left: Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi drew the 6 for Jun Light Bolt. He said, "Several front-runners drew inside so there is going to be plenty of early speed. From gate six, I believe he can settle anywhere the jockey wants to be."

Right: Trainer Bhupat Seemar drew post 7 for Remorse. He said, "We've been really unlucky with posts recently but it's better than 13." Assistant trainer Caroline Seemar added, "He got a little hampered in his last race but he's improved afterwards, shipped over well and seems in great form. He's a tough little neat horse, if things go his way he won't be too much of an outsider, fingers crossed."

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