Saudi Cup (King Abdulaziz Racetrack) Predictions, Odds & Picks
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Knicks Go (5/2)
Post Position and Odds – Saudi Cup
Check out our predictions and odds for the 2021 Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack!
|K Tosaki||R Okubo|
|R Moore||A Balding|
|A Alfouraidi||A Mushrif|
|U Rispoli||S Asmussen|
|J Rosario||B Cox|
|L Dettori||J Gosden|
|J Velazquez||W Mott|
|8||SLEEPY EYES TODD||25/1|
|A Moreno||M Silva|
|M Smith||B Baffert|
|A Fresu||M Al Mheiri|
|A De Vries||F Nass|
|D Egan||J Gosden|
|C Demuro||A Mushrif|
|H Doyle||R Charlton|
Best Bets for the Saudi Cup
Here are my plays ($60 in total)
$10 Trifecta Key – Knicks Go over Charlatan, Tacitus, and Sleepy Eyes Todd = $60
Knicks Go (5/2)
Bet on Saudi Cup, Here!
For the second year running, American shippers look to hold a strong edge in the $20 million Saudi Cup. Led by Charlatan and Knicks Go, a field of 14 has been entered for Saturday’s rich race at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Saudi Arabia.
Charlatan had to miss last year’s Kentucky Derby due to injury, but the son of Speightstown returned in grand style late last year, winning the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita in a romp in his first start since May. Never beaten to the wire, the Bob Baffert trained runner won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at 9 furlongs before his injury but was ultimately disqualified for a positive test of a banned substance.
Knicks Go comes into the Saudi Cup after dominating, front running victories in both the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Pegasus World Cup Invitational. A Grade 1 winner as a juvenile, the 5-year-old grey son of Paynter has won all four starts since being transferred to the barn of Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox.
Chief among their rivals in the deep field will be the John Gosden trained turf star Mishriff. One of Europe’s top 3-year-olds last season, the winner of the 2020 French Derby has run once over the King Abdulaziz Racetrack dirt course and finished second in the Saudi Derby one year ago.
Contested at 1 1/8-miles, Saturday’s Saudi Cup will be the second edition for the world’s richest race. In 2020, American champions squared off in a thrilling stretch run, with Maximum Security getting the best of the top mare, Midnight Bisou.
How to Watch the Saudi Cup
|Saudi Cup Race Information|
|Where||King Abdulaziz Racetrack|
|When||Saturday, February 20 — 12:40 PM Eastern time|
|How to Watch||Fox Sports 1|
No horse has touched him in four career starts, including a pair of Grade 1 victories in the Malibu and Arkansas Derby. This will be his toughest test to date, shipping overseas to take another of America’s best in Knicks Go. They both have a high turn of speed, with Charlatan being a little more proven at stalking and pouncing. It’s hard to knock his performances to date, but he not only gives up experience to his main rival on Saturday but also with only one 7 furlong race in the past nine months, I do worry that he’s not battle-tested enough for the showdown. He certainly could win again on talent, but I prefer the way Knicks Go is coming into the race.
He was a very good 2-year-old, but then suffered through a prolonged losing streak beginning with a second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. It turns out switching barns was all he needed, as he was a new horse last year. Perfect in four runs for the new barn, he likes to run his competition off their feet, and in each of the last two, he was not bothered by another horse lapping onto him early. Once again, I look for him to go right to the lead. This time it will be Charlatan who is chasing, though. This promises to be his toughest test yet, but his last two wins have made me a believer. I like him to go all the way again.
He’s a very good turf horse to be sure, having won some big races last summer, including the Group 1 French Derby. Saturday’s test would seem to be a different ballgame, though, facing off against some of America’s best at one turn on the dirt. Last year’s Saudi Derby, and his runner-up performance, give hope that he can handle the dirt just fine, but handling the dirt and running down the likes of Knicks Go and Charlatan in his seasonal debut are two very different things. I like him best of the internationals in class, but I think this is a very tough spot to win.
This son of Tapit has consistently run in the top company for the last two seasons. While he hasn’t won a lot, he often runs a race good enough to be in the top four. He’s made this trip before, and his performance last year was not bad. A one-turn 9-furlong race is probably not his best chance to beat the top two, especially in his first race in more than three months. If the top two get in a wicked speed duel then perhaps he has a shot to win, but other than that, he looks more likely to be one of the main threats to come running for one of the minor awards. Having said that, I would not be surprised to see improvement out of him this year at 5.
Bred in England, this one has made a name for himself running on the dirt in Dubai. His performances there, including a recent victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 are solid but unspectacular. With good recent firm and infinity for running on the dirt, he would seem to be one of the more likely of the internationals to run a strong race on Saturday. Having said that, this race is undoubtedly his toughest challenge yet.
His win in the Withers seems like a long time ago, but it’s only been five races since that Grade 3 win at Aqueduct. In between, he contested all three legs of the American Triple Crown, as well as the Travers. Never a big threat to win any, he did consistently pass horses to at least cash a check. Like Tacitus, I believe the 10 furlongs of the Dubai World Cup is probably a better chance for him. Asmussen usually has his returners ready to run, but he’ll need a fast pace to have a reasonable shot in the Saudi Cup. Look for him to pass tiring horses for only a minor share here.
This one made a name for himself last time when he charged to victory in the Group 1 Champions Cup, formerly known as the Japan Cup Dirt. That victory in December makes him one of the more interesting horses outside of the Americans, but it’s hard to know how that form will hold up against these. My guess is that he will find this a little bit more than he’s accustomed to, but given his good dirt form, he at the least merits consideration. He’s also a horse who knows his way to the wire, having won 10-of-18 lifetime.
Sleepy Eyes Todd
This well-traveled American runner is coming off a well-beaten fourth-place finish behind Knicks Go in the Pegasus World Cup. I’m not ready to believe he will be up to the challenge to turn the tables this time around, but there are some things to like. He certainly has proven himself at many different tracks, which should not hurt his chances on Saturday. He’s also one that should appreciate the one-turn trip. Perhaps if he can lay a little closer this time, which he usually does, he can give a better run of it in the Saudi Cup.
This one earned a good win over the track last time, taking home the Group 1 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup while making his dirt debut. Surely the stakes are raised a few levels this time around, but the good experience on dirt and over this surface do give him a leg up on several in here. He’s likely to be exposed as a cut below on Saturday, but having won at King Abdulaziz only three weeks ago is more than most can say.
This son of Australia is coming in off a nice last-out win over the all-weather surface at Lingfield in England. In fact, looking at his form in Europe, it’s pretty clear that he’s been more successful on that surface than turf. Perhaps the competition has something to do with that, but perhaps he will also appreciate the dirt. He comes in with a good recent form, but still, there are too many questions to get excited about his chances.
To be ridden by top female jockey Hollie Doyle, this Roger Charlton-trained gelding has done most of his racing on the turf with some decent results, including a Group 3 win in August. Now he tries dirt for the first time. He does have plenty of American influence in his pedigree, but still, he would need to improve leaps and bounds to make serious noise in the Saudi Cup.
The second from the barn of John Gosden, he exchanged victories with Extra Elusive last summer on the grass. On a synthetic surface, though, is where he has looked at his best. Another who will be making his dirt debut on Saturday, so it is hard to know how he will enjoy the surface. As is true for several in here, this is an awfully tough place to run on dirt for the first time.
This one comes in off a pair of good efforts in Bahrain, but that was on the turf where he has done most of his running. A son of Zoffany, he actually has been a consistent performer in his career, finishing first or second in 7-of-11 starts. Unfortunately, those good races came against a lower class than he will see in the Saudi Cup. He’s hard to recommend in his dirt debut.
On the one hand, this 5-year-old gelding comes in with the most winning experience over the local track, but on the other hand, his three consecutive wins came against a different class of runners. Unless he has completely turned things around, it would be hard to select him off his performance in this race last year, where he finished 12, beaten more than 30 lengths.
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Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
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