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Check out our predictions and odds for the Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse!
|I Ortiz Jr
|R Dutrow Jr
|HOIST THE GOLD
|POWER IN NUMBERS
Here are my plays ($90 in total)
$20 Win, Place & Show - Ushba Tesoro = $60
$10 Win, Place & Show - Senor Buscador = $30
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Ushba Tesoro (8/1).
A Grade 1 winner early in his career, this son of Race Day certainly has taken things up a notch or two since joining the barn of Rick Dutrow last spring. His Met Mile third was better than it looks on paper, and then his wins in the Whitney and Breeders’ Cup Classic established him as the top dirt horse in the world.
A deserving favorite on Saturday, he will need to work out a good trip from the rail, and with all the speed in the race, that could be difficult. An obvious threat to win his third big race in a row, I will take a shot to beat him in his toughest test yet and as the favorite.
The runner-up to White Abarrio in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, this Japanese-based son of Mind Your Biscuits will also be making his first start since. In fact, he has only run three times since finishing third in the rich Saudi Derby on this day last year.
He is versatile enough to come from off the pace, which should help here, but it is worth noting that his best performances have come when forwardly placed early. The impressive winner of the UAE Derby is certainly a major threat here, but I do like a few others better.
This son of Quality Road has proven to be a handful when he is out there pressuring the early pace. That recipe allowed him to win the Preakness and the Pegasus World Cup, and nearly add the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile as well.
Those performances proved the class of the 4-year-old trained by Bob Baffert, but the task on Saturday looks to be all that tougher considering all the speed in the race. Clearly a very good horse, he is one of many in the field that I will pass on here, because of his race dynamics.
Another classy Japanese runner, this son of Lemon Drop Kid has won 10-of-14 lifetime starts. Most of his success has come while sprinting, but he did prove that he could handle the distance last time when he won the Group 1 Champions Cup in Japan in early December.
Things will only get tougher for him in the Saudi Cup, however. He will have plenty of early speed in here to make it near impossible to do what he did last time in his first try this long, when he went right to the lead. I respect his class, but I think the early pace will be his downfall in this one.
The impressive winner of the 2023 edition of the $12 million Dubai World Cup, this Japanese son of Orfevre may get everything he wants from the pace set up in this year’s Saudi Cup. He likes to relax early and then come running late, which should be perfectly suited for the race dynamics on Saturday.
He has been very tough to beat since switching to dirt racing, has proven class, and has won at this distance before. A prep win eight weeks ago in Japan should have him ready to run his best here. He is the top pick.
Unfortunately, for this son of Always Dreaming, the only poor effort in his career came when he faded out of the picture in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He will probably find an even tougher pace in this one.
The good news for the Brad Cox-trainee is that he returned last month to look great after winning a graded stake in New Orleans. As he displayed in last September’s Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, he is a classy and talented individual, but I just don’t believe the race sets up well for him on Saturday.
Formerly a stakes sprinter in the United States, this son of Mark Valeski has made a name for himself since moving to Dubai. After a pair of solid second-place finishes at Meydan, he was an impressive winner of the $1 million Godolphin Mile last March. He also looked good in his first race since winning a Group 2 in Dubai in December.
On the down side, he is one of numerous horses in the field with early speed and has never run further than a flat mile before. At the extended distance of 1800 meters, I have to look elsewhere in this tough affair.
In a race loaded with speed and horses who like to be close early, this is one of only two runners in the field who does his best running from well behind. In the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which he finished seventh three starts back, I believe the distance was a bit longer than his best.
He should appreciate the shorter distance here. Coming off a pair of rallying runner-up finishes in top races in America, he may get a perfect set up for his late run on Saturday. He is a very interesting longshot in this $20 million race.
Having been purchased by Saudi owners, this classy son of Dialed In will look to make a splash in his initial start for a new barn. Formerly trained by Bob Baffert, he is a two-time Grade 1 winner in the United States. Having said that, he never proved to be among the very best of American runners.
Away since a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Awesome Again five months ago, he will need to fire his very best to have a realistic chance on Saturday. Still, he is a nice horse who cannot be completely disregarded here.
Another hard-knocking son of Mineshaft, this American-based runner has won a pair of graded stakes in his last four starts. Two starts back, he earned his biggest career victory when going gate to wire in a muddy edition of the Grade 2 Cigar Mile for trainer Dallas Stewart.
Formerly primarily campaigned in sprint races, he has shown plenty of speed since stretching out. Last time out, he faded to fourth in the Pegasus World Cup. With all the speed signed on here, it seems unlikely that he will be one of the ones in the late stages.
One of several former American horses in the field which were purchased by Saudi connections, this son of Quality Road broke through last time with a very nice winning performance over the track.
A non-factor in his previous U.S. stakes appearances, he will need to take another step forward to have a serious chance against this quality field.
The fourth and final Japanese runner in the field, this son of Reach the Crown is well traveled. He faded badly down the stretch in the 2022 Kentucky Derby, but he scored his biggest career win the race before in the Group 2 UAE Derby.
Since then, he has found some success running in Japan, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia. He was fifth in both the Saudi Cup and the Dubai World Cup last year. He is not without hope, but will need much better than his last, when he finished way behind Lemon Pop in the Champions Cup.
This Girvin colt became a stakes winner last summer at Monmouth Park when he accounted for the listed Tale of the Cat Stakes. Since going over to Saudi Arabia, he’s had his way with the local competition, but now faces a stern class test. I like others better.
Bred in Florida, this son of Quality Road began his career in the United States, where he did not distinguish himself. He’s had a little more success since going over to the Middle East, but was dead last in this race last year and looks to be an unlikely contender once again.
What: Saudi Cup (Group 1)
Location: King Abdulaziz Racecourse
Time: Saturday, February 25 - 12:40 pm Eastern time
How to Watch: FanDuel TV
Saudi Cup predictions and best bets are here! See the full race analysis and odds for King Abdulaziz Racecourse this Saturday!
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.
Email: [email protected]
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