This week Saudi Arabia plays to the world's richest horse race with a prize purse of US$20 million. The worlds highest-rated horses have encamped at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack to compete in the inaugural affair. The Saudi Cup includes another seven races on dirt and turf with prizes worth US$9.2 million. Ten Furlongs look at all the horses in this august field.
Benbatl: This international son of Dubawi Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 with ease most recently in his dirt debut. The 6YO will face some of the best international raiders in preparation for his first Dubai World Cup attempt. While Benbatl is a respected veteran on turf, the waters look too deep here.
Capezzano: The winner of the 2020 Firebreak Stakes may be out of his league in this in-form, top-rated company. Capezzano does not enjoy racing off the pace, which means he will face a stressful first half with quality speedsters in the mix-up front.
Chrysoberyl: Japan-bred 3Yo Gold Azure Chrysoberyl went up a gear in the final 50 meters to win the Gr.1 Champions Cup and remains undefeated in six starts. He will be one to beat in this contest of might.
Gronkowski: After landing a well-contested second place in the Dubai World Cup (2019), this year, he landed a un-exciting third in both The Entisar and Al Maktoum Challenge R2. It is tough to judge whether he will be offering a good contest or whether the bubbly has gone flat.
Great Scot: Saudi interests purchased him to run in this event, and has been gelded by may be overmatched for this contest.
Gold Dream: Once again, maybe over-matched for this contest.
Magic Wand: Adian O'Brien's golden girl, has the ability to manage racing any where in the world and give everyone a run for their money. She is expected to travel onwards to Dubai after her Saudi run. In Magic Wand’s most recent start, she ran a good second in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. Her only disadvantage maybe that this will be her dirt debut and and her breeding spells grass on both sides.
Maximum Security: He prefers to set the pace, but sitting off other horses is not a problem and maybe necessary here.
McKinzie: Bob Baffert's 6YO has placed first or runner-up in his 13 starts out of a career of 14 starts. It is hard to knock McKinzie’s consistency. In his most recent start, he ran a good second to Vino Rosso in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The 1 1/4-mile distance proved a little too far, and now he cuts back to his favored nine furlongs. With Baffert in his corner, he also has an experienced trainer who knows how to ship to the Middle East to win.
Midnight Bisou: Knocking a mare who went 7-for-8 last year, all in graded stakes, is difficult. She ran a good second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. But in Midnight Bisou’s 2020 debut, she tackles males for the first time, including a sharp horse in Maximum Security, McKinzie and an improving Mucho Gusto, all while facing the unfamiliar territory. She runs consistently nonetheless and can hit the board.
Mijack: This local contender won The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup earlier this month for horses imported to Saudi Arabia to secure his spot in the field. Race officials selected him over the winner of the other division on the same card for strictly local horses. Again, he may be over-matched in this contest.
Mucho Gusto: Gr.1 Pegasus World Cup winner-Mucho Gusto was hard-ridden in the stretch to beat Mr Freeze, and it will require more to beat his stablemate McKinzie, let alone Maximum Security if those two stars transfer their form to Saudi Arabia. As with McKinzie, the big positive is that Baffert knows how to win in the Middle East. Plus, Mucho Gusto has room to improve as a 4YO.
North America: This speedy 8yo gelding was all set to win the Dubai World Cup again Gr.1 winning Thunder Snow, if he hadn't developed feet issues during the race. Out of the horses shipped in from Dubai, this one has the most promise.
Tacitus: William Mott's returns to the track after a layoff of five months entering this spot. He is in-form and raring to go.
Distance: 1,800 meters, Surface: Dirt, Track: King Abdulaziz Racetrack, Purse: US$20,000,000, 1st:US$10,000,000