The inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup will be run Saturday at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  The 1 1/8-mile race is for older horses with a long run down the backstretch to a wide, left-hand turn. Post position is less important but with a full starting gate of 14, you still have to find a way to get over and try to save some ground. There is no wagering in Saudi Arabia but there will be a commingled pari-mutuel pool that will be available. The 12 male horses carry 126 pounds and program numbers are assigned by alphabetical order. The two female horses carry 121 pounds and their program numbers are assigned by alphabetical order. Program numbers are not matched with post positions.

Top Picks for the Saudi Cup

  • #1 Benbatl
  • #3 Chrysoberyl
  • #7 Maximum Security
  • #8 McKinzie
  • #6 Gronkowski

Betting the Saudi Cup

  • $10 Win
    1
  • $2 Exacta Box
    1, 3, 6, 7,8

#1 Benbatl (post 3) was a revelation last out when he tried dirt for the first time and he won easily in fast time at Meydan. A multiple Group 1 winner on turf, the son of Dubawi was able to give the immortal Winx a race in Australia two years ago. He draws well here and picks up Oisin Murphy who has ridden him to victory before.    

#2 Capezzano (post 13) had two sensational wins last year on the dirt at Meydan then did nothing in the Dubai World Cup (G1). Off for around 11 months, he returned there with a dominating score going a mile in good time.

#3 Chrysoberyl (post 10) is a Japanese dirt horse who has won all six starts and at the age of four, is just coming into his own. He picks up Christophe Soumillon and has already shown he can handle any kind of ground.

#4 Gold Dream (post 1) is a Japanese dirt horse that has earned over $3 million and just missed in the Champions Cup (G1) two starts back. He had a prep for this and regular rider Christophe Lemaire is back in the saddle.

#5 Great Scot (post 11) is a locally-owned turf horse that is moving way up in class and looks overmatched for his dirt debut.  

#6 Gronkowski (post 5) just missed winning the Dubai World Cup and has been pointed for this race all along. He has had two improving runs this year at Meydan and he should be a pace factor in the stretch with Frankie Dettori.

#7 Maximum Security (post 7) looks perfect at this distance but what kind of trip will he get with speed to his outside? When he’s good, he’s real good and Luis Saez has been riding as well as anyone in America.   

#8 McKinzie (post 9) won the Whitney (G1) at class and distance three starts back but failed in his next two starts. I’m not sure how he will do off the layoff but Bob Baffert always seems to find a way in these big races.

#9 Mjjack (post 14) is a horse for the course that won a group one stakes race here last out and comes back on short rest.  

#10 Mucho Gusto (post 8) dominated a weak field in the Pegasus (G1) last month and he should be a pace factor in here for Baffert/Irad Ortiz, Jr. Second start off a layoff could be the key.  

#11 North America (post 4) is a gelded son of Dubawi who can be dangerous if he gets a head of steam and keeps going. From post 4, Richie Mullen has to send him but he has had some big races on the dirt over the years.  

#12 Tacitus (post 2) was second in the Travers (G1) when blinkers were added then was an even third against older horses. He cuts back to nine furlongs and is owned and bred by Saudi interests. Has to avoid trouble from post 2.  

#13 Magic Wand (post 12) is an amazing mare who ran so well in the Pegasus Turf (G1). Daughter of Galileo has never raced on dirt but she also has never met a surface that she didn’t like. Outside post makes it especially tough.

#14 Midnight Bisou (post 6) is another filly taking on the boys and gets a five-pound weight concession. Her form is terrific and Mike Smith should be able to get a decent trip behind the early speed.