Both Purebred Arabian races over the weekend now carry Group 1 status
9 February 2024, Saudi Arabia ~ The Breeders’ Cup Classic winner White Abarrio (USA) is poised to renew rivalry with four of his vanquished combatants from the Santa Anita shakedown after the likely fields for the 2024 Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse were unveiled by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia.
Five horses from 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic feature among the fourteen runners of $20m Group 1 event on Saturday, February 24, including representatives from the USA, Japan, Ireland and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
White Abarrio was always well placed when winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic for trainer Rick Dutrow Jnr last November. He is set to once again take on the Japanese runner-up Derma Sotogake (JPN), who returns to Riyadh after finishing third in last year’s Saudi Derby.
The eye-catching Breeders’ Cup hero will sport new colours on Saudi Cup night following a part-purchase of the-five-year-old by prolific local owner, Prince Faisal Bin Khaled Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and will be recognized during the race by the Prince’s familiar red colours with white epaulettes.
Japan’s Ushba Tesoro (JPN) the 2023 Group 1 Dubai World Cup champion and a staying on fifth in California is also amongst the likely runners in the 1800-metre event. The Noboru Takagi-trained star will line up with the Todd Fincher-trained Senor Buscador (USA) (seventh) and Brad Cox’s Saudi Crown, owned by Saudi’s Faisal AlQhatani of FMQ Stables who weakened off a hot pace to finish 10th but has wins in the Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes and the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby to his credit.
Bob Baffert took the silver medal in The Saudi Cup last year with the Amr Zedan-owned Country Grammer (USA) and is back again this time with National Treasure (USA), the Breeders’ Cup Mile runner-up, recent conqueror of Senor Buscador in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the 2023 Preakness Stakes winner. The fourth place in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, Hoist The Gold (USA), is set to travel for trainer Dallas Stewart, having winning form over Señor Buscador from the 2023 Grade 2 Cigar Mile.
Group 1 Arabian Races
Both Purebred Arabian races over the weekend now carry Group 1 status and the $2m Diriya Gate Development Authority Obaiya Arabian Classic will feature the USA runner, Honey Proof (USA), clashing with Asfan Al Khalediah (KSA), Najeeb Al Zaman (FR), recent winner Vizhir (FR) and Dergham Athbah (UAE) among others.
Friday’s $1.5m Ministry of Culture Al Mneefah Cup has an 11-strong entry including the top-rated Tilal Al Khalediah (KSA), who last year ran away with the Diriya Gate Development Authority Obaiya by over six lengths.
The $1.5m National Housing Company Saudi International Handicap over 2100m, has attracted a likely field of 14 with countries represented including Spain, Norway, the Czech Republic, KSA, Bahrain and Qatar.
Commenting on the runners attracted to The Saudi Cup this year, HRH Prince Bandar Bin Khaled Alfaisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia said:
“The Likely Fields Saudi Cup 2024 promise to offer a scintillating and fascinating renewal of the fifth Saudi Cup weekend across the two racecards. We are looking forward to hosting these incredible equine athletes at King Abdulaziz Racecourse and to putting on a showcase of international racing for our domestic audience here in Riyadh and the wider watching world.
“The increase in prize money and the upgrades to the Ministry of Culture Al Mneefah Cup, the Howden Neom Turf Cup and the Saudi National Bank 1351 Turf Sprint serve to demonstrate the progress of The Saudi Cup race meeting since its inauguration in 2020 and we look forward to the continued evolution of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia as a global racing jurisdiction, promoting and developing our sport domestically while contributing to the long-term future of racing on the international stage.”