RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – A roaring rally in the late stages propelled New York Central past a desperate Matera Sky right at the wire to win the $1.5 million Saudia Sprint Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack.

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Breaking from the barriers at 10/1 stateside odds under American rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., New York Central took back and was allowed to settle after geting washy in the pre-race activities. The Japanese hopeful Matera Sky was rushed from his outside post to secure command over the two American runners, Captain Scotty and the 3/5 stateside favorite Imperial Hint.

Off the far turn, Matera Sky suddenly blew out, increasing his lead by several lengths in the blink of an eye. His American pursuers were unable to keep pace and quickly fell off, but after straightening for home, New York Central unleashed his turn of foot and began gobbling up ground.

Inside the final furlong, Matera Sky grew visibly leg-weary and was begging for the wire under Yutaka Take. His prayers went unanswered as New York Central surged in the final stages to steal victory by a head.

Credit: Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Neville Hopwood

Trained by Sami Al Harabi, New York Central completed the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track in a final time of 1:11.68. Behind the top pair, Gladiator King edged Maypole for third by a neck.

“For a second, I thought I was too far back turning for home, but as soon as I started to ask my horse, he started to pick it up and give me some run,” said Ortiz, Jr. “Then I knew I had a chance. The other horse started stopping and was coming back fast, so I kept riding and I still had a chance to get there on time.”

Completing the order of finish came Mesquite, Drafted, Indelible Ink, Manguzi, Captain Scotty, Beau WarriorMuhtaram, Imperial Hint, and Sobre Action.

New York Central’s win was his first since last May’s Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) at Pimlico and improved his record to 13-5-2-1 with $1,235,310 earned. Prince Faisal Bin Khaled purchased the American-bred 5-year-old son of Tapit last November for $240,000 and relocated him across the Atlantic Ocean with eyes on this race.

“(Winning on a night like this) means a lot,” said Ortiz, Jr. “I enjoyed it, riding for Prince Faisal. I’m so excited.”

New York Central returned $23.40 to win, $8.60 to place, and $5 to show. Matera Sky brought back $5.40 to place and $5.60 to show, while Gladiator King paid $3 to show.