The inaugural Saudi Cup (G1) is set for this Saturday and offers an eye-popping $20 million purse. As expected, that kind of money attracted a full field that includes most of America’s top older horses. The event will be the last of the day and headlines a card featuring eight strong stakes races. The race will air on Fox Sports 1 this Saturday with post time scheduled for 12:40 PM ET.
The American with the strongest chance of winning the event is Maximum Security, who picked up a dominant win last time out in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct. In 2019, this horse crossed the wire first all but once, and his Kentucky Derby (G1) disqualification quite likely cost him Horse of the Year honors. He’ll look for a major payday in this spot as he breaks from post 7 with Luis Saez aboard.
Top American trainer Bob Baffert has sent his two of his best older horses to Saudi Arabia. Recent Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner Mucho Gusto will look for two straight massive paychecks, but the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) runner-up McKinzie looms as an equally-dangerous threat. Mucho Gusto drew post 8 for the event, while McKinzie will break from gate 9.
The Saudi Cup also features a pair of females, including America’s 2019 Older Female of the Year Midnight Bisou, taking a swing against the boys. She was nearly flawless in 2019, winning seven straight before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) to end her season. Overall, she has hit the board in all 19 starts, including 12 victories. She’ll break from post 6 with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard.
The full field from the rail out for the inaugural Saudi Cup: Gold Dream, Tacitus, Benbatl, North America, Gronkowski, Midnight Bisou, Maximum Security, Mucho Gusto, McKinzie, Chrysoberyl, Great Scot, Magic Wand, Capezzano, and Mijack.
#7 Maximum Security – Simply put, this horse turned into a superstar last season, despite having the biggest win of his career taken away from him. He’s run well since then, however, and this giant purse looks to be his for the taking, especially based on his recent workouts. He looks to be sitting on a big effort and has every right to improve from age 3 to 4. He is squarely the one to beat.
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#8 Mucho Gusto – Will the Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner make it two monster victories in a row? That field left a lot to be desired, but he beat them all very easily. The 4-year-old colt has matured with age and Baffert has said that he could not be doing any better coming into this contest. This will be a much tougher challenge than the Pegasus, though, so he’ll have to run another huge race in order to have a shot here.
#6 Midnight Bisou – The superstar female will take on the boys for the first time after her 2019 Female of the Year campaign. Her connections pulled her out of a broodmare sale, where she would have likely pulled in millions, because of their belief that she could win this race. It’s great that they’re letting her try to achieve an incredible feat, and she has done enough to suggest that she can compete with this sort of competition. Even if she doesn’t win the whole thing, look for her to be in with a chance when they turn for home.
#9 McKinzie – This Baffert trainee is one of the classiest horses in training, but the distance is going to be a question mark. He has run fairly well up to 1 1/8 miles, though, so he has a shot. His class will put him in position to win, so expect him to be around with a shot when the real running begins.
#10 Chrysoberyl – This undefeated Japanese runner seems like the most logical horse to take down the Americans, though this will test him in a major way. Last time out, he took home the Champions Cup (G1) at Chukyo, his first Group 1 victory. It will be fun to see how he matches up against America’s top dirt horses.
#3 Benbatl – This horse is a Meydan Racecourse legend who deserves a shot this spot. He won the 2018 Longines Turf (G1) on Dubai World Cup night and has won twice more at Meydan this year, including the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) last time out. Expect him to show up with a solid effort.
#2 Tacitus – The most frustrating horse in the United States last season displayed the talent it took to be one of the elite horses in his crop, but he kept finding ways to lose big races. He received much-needed time off after a long campaign and returns from his layoff here. His talent level is enough to compete against this group – if he can get out of his own way.
#5 Gronkowski – His career resume is fairly amazing, considering he was the runner-up at the Belmont Stakes (G1) in 2018 when Justify won the Triple Crown. After that effort, he was a no-show in four straight races, then nearly upset last year’s Dubai World Cup (G1). He’s been steady since then, having hit the board in three straight stakes events. He’s a logical underneath play here.
#13 Capezzano – This horse has gotten some buzz since winning the Firebreak Stakes (G3) at Meydan to open up his season. The American horses tower over this field, but this is one to consider as an alternative at what should be a healthy price. He’s likely going to get ignored by many American bettors.
#12 Magic Wand – She might be the classiest mare in training. No matter where she goes or who she faces, she shows up with a nice effort. Can she do the same thing on dirt after running on turf her entire career? It’s hard not to respect her, but she’s on the outside looking in against this field and over this surface.
#1 Gold Dream – This Japanese shipper will look to take home a huge purse after missing the board just once in 2019. The 7-year-old has won 9 of 23 starts during his career, including two Group 1 victories. However, this level of competition is much steeper than what he’s faced.
#4 North America – If you watch racing at Meydan, then you definitely know this horse’s name. He has been a star there for years, though he’s never been competitive in the Dubai World Cup (G1). This event is setting up similarly, so expect the same sort of result.
#11 Great Scot – He’ll make his 2020 debut here after winning the Superior Mile Stakes (G3) at Haydock Park last time out. Overall, he’s won 4 of 11 starts, but this will easily be the stiffest test of his career.
#14 Mijack – This local hopeful has won five straight over the track, but this will be the toughest challenge of his career by a good margin. He’ll hope that his experience over the track is a major factor.