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2023 Saudi Cup Day

horse racing
Panthalassa's connections celebrate after winning the Saudi Cup.
Date: 02/25/2023

The Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse is the richest horse race in the world. King Abdulaziz Racecourse. Conditions were ideal for racing in Riyadh on Saturday night, with clear skies, a race time temperature of 27 C (81 F), the main track fast and turf course firm.

horse racing
Inside view of the finish of the Saudi Cup.

In the main event, a field of 13 older horses contested the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) at 1800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) around one turn out of the long chute of the 1 1/4 mile main dirt track. Taiba was sent off as the 8-5 favorite off his Malibu Stakes (G1) win after finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice Country Grammer, last year's runner-up and winner of the San Antonio Stakes (G2) last out, and 9-1 third choice Jun Light Bolt off a three race win streak in Japan including the Sirius Stakes (G3) and Champions Cup (G1).

Jockey Yoshito Yahagi sent Panthalassa to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.77, 45.85, and 1:11.17 while pressed by 36-1 Geoglyph and stalked by Taiba. Turning for home, Panthalassa continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:11.17. Country Grammer, midpack early under Frankie Dettori, came out for room and put in a strong late rally but Panthalassa easily held him off to win by 3/4 length in 1:50.80. It was another 1/2 length back to late-running 14-1 Cafe Pharoah third, while favorite Taiba tired late to finish 8th beaten 7 3/4 lengths.
horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey           Win   Place
 7  Panthalassa         Yoshida        34.10    8.90
 2  Country Grammer     Dettori                 3.20
 1  Cafe Pharoah        Moreira                 8.40

Winning Time:  1:50.80

$1  Quinella 2-7                    32.05
$1  Exacta 7-2                      82.00
$1  Trifecta 7-2-1                 833.90
$1  Superfecta 7-2-1-5          12,573.80
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Panthalassa in the winner's circle after the Saudi Cup. Winning trainer Yoshito Yahagi said, "Panthalassa had a perfect start today. I applaud Yutaka's jump, it was a masterful job from the jockey. When I drew barrier one I thought this was a big advantage to him but it worked perfectly. He jumped really well when he needed to and got the job done. I think I was correct that my feeling was right that he could handle the dirt. You know this is not easy. Japanese racing tries everything to improve and develop. Japanese horse racing has become more international. Of course, this is the best feeling as the prize-money is the best!"

Right: The trophy presentation for the Saudi Cup. Winning jockey Yutaka Yoshida said, "The pace was not too strong for him, it was another factor for him to keep finding until the line. I did break well and then it was straightforward. Mr Yahagi said to me to ride my race and I would get a good result. So, I didn't think about the surface. I just rode my race and thought if he adapts to the track, it would be all right. Of course, they were coming for me in the straight, but Panthalassa always found another gear and so I kept riding. It is an unforgettable moment and I am very happy to have ridden the winner."

horse racing The $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) presented by Sports Boulevard featured a field of 9 older horses going 1200 meters (about 6 furlongs) on the main track. Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) winner Elite Power was sent off as the even money favorite over 7-2 second choice Dancing Prince, winner of the JBC Sprint (G1) and 3-1 third choice Gunite, winner of the King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn after finishing 4th in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Jockey Abner Adorno sent 25-1 Meraas to the lead through fractions of 22.59 and 46.20 while pressed by 30-1 Justin and stalked by 58-1 longest shot Freedom Fighter and Gunite. Turning for home, Elite Power, unhurried early under Frankie Dettori, came out for room to take over at the 3/16 pole. Kept to task by Dettori, Elite Power drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Gunite in 1:11.01. It was another 2 lengths back to Justin third.

 #  Horse                Jockey          Win   Place
 2  Elite Power          Dettori        4.40    2.30
 4  Gunite               Gaffalione             3.10
 8  Remake               Fukunaga               3.00

Winning Time:  1:11.01

$1  Quinella 2-4                     5.65
$1  Exacta 2-4                       7.30
$1  Trifecta 2-4-8                  27.80
$1  Superfecta 2-4-8-5             243.90 

Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Elite Power in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Frankie Dettori said, "My first word has to be aeroplane. I was a little out of reach and asked him to get a little closer and then the turbo just kicked in and I was a passenger then. He's a very laid-back horse and only does what you ask him to do but wow he has some turn of foot. The Abdullah family (Juddmonte Farm) has given so much to the sport; the legacy keeps going. I love these colours and it's nice to give the locals something to cheer about."

Right: Frankie Dettori kisses the trophy. Neil Poznansky, assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott said, "He's a big strong animal. He shows nothing but class. He shipped over here like he was here his whole life. He's a good horse, a very good horse. His turn of foot is incredible, he's just incredible to watch, a magnificent animal. He's really coming into himself and getting better as he was really slow to mature. Now he's putting it all together. Bill doesn't come here without reason but bringing a horse like Elite Power is a good reason to come. For Frankie and Juddmonte it was like a whole dynasty thing."

horse racing The only age-restricted race on Saudi Cup night is the $1.5 million Saudi Derby (G3) presented by Boutique Group, for 3-year-olds going the 1 turn mile on the main track. Bob Hope (G3) and San Vicente (G2) winner Havnameltdown was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 13 over 7-2 second choice Derma Sotogake, winner of the Nippon Nisai Yushun and 6-1 third choice Continuar, winner of the Cattleya Stakes.

Jockey Frankie Dettori sent Havnameltdown to the lead exiting the chute through quick fractions of 21.83, 44.98, and 1:10.23 while pressed by 12-1 Commissioner King and stalked by 23-1 Ecoro Ares. Entering the lane, Havnameltdown continued to lead but Commissioner King, confidently ridden by Luis Morales, moved up to challenge, gaining the lead in the final strides to win by a head in 1:38.82. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to late-running Derma Sotogate third.

horse racing

 #  Horse                Jockey          Win   Place
 7  Commissioner King    Morales       27.40    5.00
12  Havnameltdown        Dettori                2.60
 9  Derma Sotogake       Matsuwaka              2.80

Winning Time:  1:38.82

$1  Quinella 7-12                   21.45
$1  Exacta 7-12                     58.80
$1  Trifecta 7-12-9                216.00
$1  Superfecta 7-12-9-1          4,441.30
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Commissioner King in the winner's enclosure. Winning jockey Luis Morales said, "What a tough horse. It was an honour to ride in a race like that and to come out on top is just the best. He was so tough, he kept wanting it and we got there at the line."

Right: The winning connections celebrate with the trophies after the race. Abdulaziz Alyousef, representative for owner FMQ Stable said, "That was history. You will never see a better duel between two amazing horses like it. That will be watched over and over for a very long time. He is the first horse that we bought at FMQ Stables for the owner Faisal Mohammed Alqahtani and he has won the Derby! It is beyond our wildest dreams! He has beaten Bob Baffert and the Japanese horses, people who don't come here to compete, they come to win. The plan was to be close to Havnameltdown and try to test him in the straight. We felt he would run well but we weren't optimistic enough to think he would win. It is just amazing."

horse racing The longest race on Saudi Cup night is the $2.5 million Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap (G3), a 3000 meter (about 1 7/8 mile) marathon around three turns of the 1 1/8 mile turf course. Sports Nippon Sho Stayers Stakes (G2) winner Silver Sonic was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 13 older horses. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Trawlerman, third in the British Champions Long Distance (G2), and 6-1 third choice Enemy off his win in the Dubai Racing Club Classic at Meydan.

Jockey Joe Fanning sent Subjectivist to the lead and was pressed by Trawlerman and stalked by Silver Sonic and My Frankel. Turning for home, jockey Damien Lane moved Silver Sonic out for room and he gained the lead at the 1/4 pole, drawing off late to win by 2 1/2 lengths over late-running Enemy in 3:06.45. It was another 3/4 length back to 18-1 Get Shirty third.

horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey          Win    Place
 7  Silver Sonic         Lane           6.10     3.00
 3  Enemy                Kingscote               4.20
 6  Get Shirty           Tudhope                10.60

Winning Time:  3:06.45

$1  Quinella 3-7                    12.40
$1  Exacta 7-3                      23.10
$1  Trifecta 7-3-6                 339.20
$1  Superfecta 7-3-6-5          18,424.50
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Silver Sonic heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Damien Lane said, "He began well, which is always important from barrier one. I was happy to track Subjectivist, who was always going to set a nice tempo and be a good horse to follow. I needed a bit of luck to get through but once it opened up he finished really well. We knew the distance wouldn't be a problem. I would never advise a trainer, but the Tenno Sho looks a good option. It's a great privilege to be riding here and to be part of the meeting, let alone ride a winner. I'm just grateful to be a part of it all, it's a big thrill as a part of my career and I'm really enjoying it."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Red Sea Turf Handicap. Winning trainer Yasutoshi Ikee said, "I didn't talk tactics with Damien today. He made his own plans and we didn't discuss anything before the race. I bought Orfevre to the Arc twice but he ran second on both occasions, so winning a big race abroad with Orfevre's son, it is a great pleasure. My father trained Stay Gold, his dam's sire, so the feeling with this victory is so special. I'm very grateful to the people of the JCSA who received us so well. Silver Sonic travelled over really well and kept his condition, he has been the same as he is at home. We have two options, the Tenno Sho and the other is the Dubai Gold Cup."

horse racing The $1.5 million 1351 Turf Sprint (G3) presented by STC featured a field of 11 older horses sprinting 1351 meters (about 7 3/4 furlongs) around one turn of the turf course. Centaur Stakes (G2) fifth place finisher Songline was sent off as the 4-5 favorite over 5-1 second choice Casa Creed, last year's runner-up but 9th in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last out, and 8-1 third choice Bathrat Leon, fourth in the Hanshin Cup (G2).

Jockey Ryusei Sakai sent Bathrat Leon to the lead and he set the pace while pressed by Resistencia and stalked by 12-1 Lusail and 62-1 longest shot Rozgar. Entering the stretch, Bathrat Leon continued to lead. Casa Creed, trailing early under Luis Saez, but in a strong late rally but Bathrat Leon held him off to win by a head in 1:17.49. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to 22-1 Raaed third, while favorite Songline trailed throughout and failed to rally finishing 10th beaten 7 1/2 lengths.

horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey          Win    Place
 1  Bathrat Leon         Sakai         18.40     3.80
 2  Casa Creed           Saez                    3.60
 7  Raaed                Ferreira               11.10

Winning Time:  1:17.49

$1  Quinella 1-2                    18.55
$1  Exacta 1-2                      41.40
$1  Trifecta 1-2-7                 803.50
$1  Superfecta 1-2-7-9           7,257.80
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Bathrat Leon in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Ryusai Sakai said, "I am very grateful to the owner and my boss Mr Yahagi and the connections who gave me the chance to ride here. My horse had the best run, he had a great trip."

Right: The trophy presentation for the 1351 Turf Sprint. Winning trainer Yoshito Yahagi said, "I don't have the right answer if he is a turf horse or a dirt horse. I thought Bathrat Leon would suit the turf here and the distance. I think his best is 7 furlongs, this is 6 1/2 furlongs. The jockey and I had the same opinion to go from the front, they get on very well. We won today, we have to have a discussion with the owner. He handles turf pretty well, but at the moment I would say we can look at the Godolphin Mile."

horse racing Kicking off the graded stakes action on Saudi Cup night was the $1.5 million Neom Turf Cup (G3) presented by Althanfeethi, for older horses going 2100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles) around 2 turns of the turf. Bet UK Churchill Stakes winner Missed the Cut was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 10 over 7-1 second choice Sir Busker, second in the Tandridge Stakes, and 8-1 third choice Dubai Future, 5th in the Singspiel Stakes (G2) both at Meydan.

Jockey Mickael Barzalona sent Eagle's Flight to the front first time by and he set the early pace while pressed by Mostahdaf and stalked by Dubai Future and White Moonlight. Turning for home, Eagle's Flight tired allowing Mostahdaf to take over at the 3/16 pole. Kept to task by Jim Crowley, Mostahdaf drew off late to win by 7 lengths over Dubai Future in 2:06.24. It was another 5 3/4 lengths back to late-running Flying Visit third, and 1 3/4 more to favorite Missed the Cut fourth.

horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey          Win    Place
 7  Mostahdaf            Crowley        5.70     2.30
 3  Dubai Future         Tudhope                 3.82
 5  Flying Visit         Ferreira               21.10

Winning Time:  2:06.24

$1  Quinella 3-7                    14.75
$1  Exacta 7-3                      22.40
$1  Trifecta 7-3-5                 498.30
$1  Superfecta 7-3-5-6           1,451.10

Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Mostahdaf heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Jim Crowley said, "We had got a lovely trip around there and it was game over turning in. He loves fast ground and we knew he'd stay. Everything went according to plan, we just wanted to sit where he was comfortable and he took me into the race. From 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 on fast ground he can be very good. John and Thady wouldn't have run him in the Arc if they didn't think he was a very good horse. Hopefully he can keep progressing."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Neom Turf Cup. Winning co-trainer Thady Gosden said, "We are thrilled to win the race. He was given a patient ride by Jim and we were lucky with the draw to be in barrier four. It was a little messy in behind him but thankfully we stayed out of all of that. His last race was obviously the Arc, but prior to that was in the September Stakes against useful horses and he quickened up quite well that day on a sounder surface. He's a versatile horse who is pretty comfortable in terms of trip. We'll talk to the owners and see if we take him to Dubai next month."

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