Saudi Cup Predictions, Odds, Picks (King Abdulaziz Racetrack)
Saudi Cup Post Position and Odds
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|1||COUNTRY GRAMMER||10/1 |
|F Prat||B Baffert|
|2||AERO TREM||30/1 |
|V Leal||A Cintra|
|3||MIDNIGHT BOURBON||8/1 |
|J Rosario||S Asmussen|
|4||REAL WORLD||15/1 |
|L Dettori||S bin Suroor|
|5||EMBLEM ROAD||30/1 |
|W Ramos||M Almulawah|
|F Geroux||B Cox|
|7||MAGNY COURS||20/1 |
|M Barzalona||A Fabre|
|8||T O KEYNES||8/1 |
|K Matsuyama||D Takayanagi|
|9||ART COLLECTOR||8/1 |
|L Saez||W Mott|
|10||MAKING MIRACLES||30/1 |
|A Moreno||M Almulawah|
|R Moore||F H Graffard|
|12||SECRET AMBITION||20/1 |
|T O’Shea||S Seemar|
|13||MARCHE LORRAINE||20/1 |
|C Soumillon||Y Yashagi|
|D Egan||J Gosden|
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Best Bets for the Saudi Cup
Here are my plays ($60 in total)
$10 Exacta Part Wheel – Mandaloun over Mishriff, Art Collector and T O Keynes = $30
$10 Exacta Part Wheel – Mishriff, Art Collector and T O Keynes over Mandaloun = $30
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Mandaloun (4/1)
Defending race champion Mishriff will once again take on a strong group of American shippers when he tops a field of 14 entered for Saturday’s $20 million Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack.
Mishriff is well proven on dirt, but has done all his recent running on the turf. Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the 5-year-old son of Make Believe has won 7-of-14 career starts, with all but two of those races coming on the grass. Twice a Group 1 winner on the turf last year, both of his races on the dirt have come at King Abdulaziz, where he finished second in the Saudi Derby in 2020, before his impressive victory over Charlatan and Knicks Go in last year’s edition of the Saudi Cup.
Mandaloun comes into the Saudi Cup from the barn of Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox. The recently adjudged winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby has won 7-of-9 career starts overall and was victorious in an only start this year, when he wore down his rival Midnight Bourbon in the stretch of the Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Chief among their rivals in the deep field will be a trio of graded stakes winners from the United States: Art Collector, Country Grammer, and Midnight Bourbon, as well as the smashing winner of Japan’s Champions Cup, T O Keynes, and the Group 1 winner in Europe, Sealiway.
Contested at 1,800 meters, Saturday’s Saudi Cup will be the third 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.
Saudi Cup Predictions
One of the world’s best horses, it’s easy to admire a horse who can run equally well on both turf and dirt and that is exactly what Mishriff proved that he can do last year. After running well in his first race on dirt two years ago in the Saudi Derby, he came back much stronger last year and beat a pair of excellent American runners to get the Saudi Cup win. Going back to his more familiar surface of turf, he was also one of the best grass horses on the globe last year while keeping top company. Returning off the layoff once again, there’s little reason to believe he won’t turn in another strong effort in his third try in Saudi Arabia. I think the far outside 14-post could catch up with him this year, but still, he is a huge threat to win this race again on Saturday.
This son of Into Mischief proved himself one of the best 3-year-olds of a very strong crop last year in America. Wins in the Risen Star and Pegasus, and near misses in the Kentucky Derby and Haskell, in which both races he was ultimately awarded the win, demonstrated his class. Given some time off to rest and mature after a tough Haskell battle, he came back with his typical tactical speed and a strong finish to defeat his classy rival Midnight Bourbon in the Louisiana Stakes. Training great for trainer Brad Cox, I fully expect him to be one of the best dirt horses in the world this year. He also should be well suited for the 1800 meters and a long stretch of the Saudi Cup. He is the top pick.
T O Keynes
I have always known that Japanese runners are more dangerous on the grass than the dirt as they travel to big races internationally, but Marche Lorraine’s victory in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff opened my eyes to the fact that the island nation is catching up on this surface as well. That fact makes T O Keynes a very dangerous runner on Saturday. A 5-year-old son of Sinister Minister, he comes into the Saudi Cup off a powerhouse 6-length score in the Champions Cup at Chukyo Racecourse last December. Although it was his first win in the highest company, he has been a consistent runner in his native land, who is now in career-best form. This will be a test as he travels to face some of the world’s best, but off the last, he is a serious threat.
His last win in the Lecomte seems like a long time ago, and in fact it’s been more than a year since the son of Tiznow has visited the winner’s circle. Of course, he has run many good races following that victory for trainer Steve Asmussen, while taking the role as a valiant bridesmaid. Unfortunately for him, things do not get any easier in here, as he is tasked with the job of chasing Art Collector early and then holding off Mishriff and Mandaloun late. Once again, I expect another solid effort, but alas, in another losing performance.
This one should be fresh and ready to flaunt his speed after being away from the races for nearly four months. Trained by Bill Mott, he scored his biggest career victory two starts back when he wired a Grade 1 Woodward field which included Maxfield. Before that, the multiple graded stakes winner failed in some of his biggest tests and was unable to make much noise in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his most recent start. Still, this seems like a nice spot for him as he loves the 9-furlong distance. Provided he gets the early jump on Midnight Bourbon, as I expect him to, he should be a dangerous horse on the lead as the field turns for home in the Saudi Cup.
This American runner is the biggest wildcard of the strong United States contingent. Mainly because he has been away from the races since winning the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita nine months ago. The son of Tonalist certainly has been a nice horse, also winning the Grade 3 Peter Pan in 2020 out of only eight career starts, but on the other hand, I don’t feel like he is proven against the very best yet either. If he comes back running his best for trainer Bob Baffert, he is a real threat, but of the four Americans, he is the one that I have the shakiest expectations for on Saturday.
The hottest horse in the field, this Godolphin homebred has won five in a row coming into the Saudi Cup. Bred in Ireland, the son of Dark Angel has actually excelled since switching to the grass. All five of his wins have come on the turf, and include the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp last fall and the Group 2 Zabeel Mile at Meydan just four weeks ago. He began his career running on the dirt in Dubai, where unfortunately he was winless in his first four career races. He has obviously improved since then, but I need to see him run a strong race on the surface before I can back him in a race like this.
A Group 1 winner in Europe the last two seasons at 2 and 3, this French-bred son of Galiway will be making his first start since winning the Champion Stakes at Ascot last October. More daunting than that, this will also mark his first ever start on the dirt. Still, he has traveled before, faced very good company, and looks like a horse who could be a turf star in 2022. As for the dirt, he’s reported to be working well over the new surface. Other than a race over the track going in, he reminds me of Mishriff last year. On class alone, he is certainly one to consider on Saturday.
In what will be her final career start, the star Japanese mare will try to surprise even a tougher field than what she did last time, when upsetting America’s best females in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. An accomplished runner in her native land for leading trainer Yoshito Yahagi, she merits respect after the big win at Del Mar, but now must better the effort some 3 ½ months later in Saudi Arabia. To be honest, I didn’t like her chances last time, and I remain unconvinced that she will do it again in a field like this.
Trained by the French master Andre Fabre, this one has been primarily a turf horse during his career where he would not be classified as a star, but had some pretty good results last year. A son of Medaglia d’Oro, he is bred to appreciate the dirt, and in his only career race on the surface, he finished third in last year’s Group 1 Dubai World Cup behind Mystic Guide. Given his liking of the dirt, he could be a live longshot on Saturday, but I wonder if he might have a better shot in next month’s Dubai World Cup at the 1 ¼-mile distance.
A 9-year-old warrior, this one has been a fixture in Dubai over the last several years and actually scored his biggest career victory last year in the Godolphin Mile. Bred in England and trained by one of the leaders in Dubai, he returned from a long layoff last time to finish a decent second in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 last month. It was a solid effort, but things now get much tougher in his second start following a 10-month layoff. The win in the Godolphin Mile gives hope, but there are too many in her that I prefer over the veteran runner.
The first of two from trainer Mitab Almulawah, this veteran is an English-bred who has done most of his racing on the turf in Europe. Known for his stamina, the 7-year-old gelded son of Pivotal has made a nice transition to the dirt in Saudi Arabia with five wins in eight starts there. Most recently he won the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup over the track. He is a solid and proven horse, but I doubt he has the speed he will need to successfully compete with this bunch around the one turn at King Abdulaziz on Saturday.
This one is set to become the first South American horse to run in the Saudi Cup. The 7-year-old is the son of American champion Shanghai Bobby and based in Uruguay. A winner of 10-of-22 lifetime starts, he comes in off a win the 1 1/4-mile Gran Premio Latino Americano in October at Maronas Racecourse which convinced his connections to give him a shot here. It’s hard to know how his longtime strong form in South America will stand up against the best dirt horses in the world, but is very accomplished back home.
The second locally based horse from the barn of Mitab Almulawah, this one is an American-bred son of Quality Road. The improving 4-year-old colt has six wins in eight career starts, but will easily be facing the toughest test of his career on Saturday evening. He comes in off three consecutive wins going 1600 meters, most recently accounting for the King Faisal Cup last month. This will be a huge class test, but of the two local runners, this might be the one best suited for the distance.
How to Watch the Saudi Cup
|Saudi Cup Race Information|
|Where||King Abdulaziz Racetrack|
|When||Saturday, February 26 — 12:35 pm Eastern time|
|How to Watch||TVG|
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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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