Betting with, and against, White Abarrio in the 2024 Saudi Cup

February 22nd, 2024

As you would expect for the world’s richest race, many of the world’s best dirt horses are contesting the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Saturday.

Betting with White Abarrio

  • $20 win: #14 White Abarrio
  • $2 trifecta: 14 with 4, 7, 9 with 1, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13

Betting against White Abarrio

  • $10 win/$20 show: #7 Lemon Pop
  • $1 trifecta: 7, 9 with 7, 9, 14 with 4, 7, 9, 13, 14


However, the result may well depend on whether #14 White Abarrio runs to the form that won him the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last year.

The son of Race Day was a Florida Derby (G1) winner at three but took his form to new levels last year. Not only did he win the 1 1/4-mile Classic decisively from Saturday’s race rival #4 Derma Sotogake, he was if anything even more impressive in the Whitney (G1), over the Saudi Cup trip of 1 1/8 miles.

With Derma Sotogake and last year’s Dubai World Cup (G1) winner #13 Ushba Tesoro probably best at 1 1/4 miles, it looks like it will take either a below-par run from White Abarrio or a fantastic effort from another horse to see a different result.

If you want to take White Abarrio on, the best prospects may be #9 National Treasure and #7 Lemon Pop.

National Treasure has been in career-best form at his last two starts. The 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1) winner put below-par efforts in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1) and 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1), but improved later in the year to push Cody’s Wish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He then stepped up to 1 1/8 miles to account for Riyadh rival #12 Senor Buscador in the Pegasus World Cup (G1).

He looks to be well suited to this trip and a little more improvement could see him competitive with White Abarrio.

While Derma Sotogake and Ushba Tesoro have flown the flag for Japan overseas on dirt in the last year, Lemon Pop has been the Japanese dirt star at home, winning the one-mile February (G1) and the 1 1/8-mile Champions Cup (G1). His sole poor run was in the Middle East when 10th in the Golden Shaheen (G1), but that was over six furlongs and a post-race vet exam showed he wasn’t striding freely.

If Lemon Pop can reproduce his Japanese form he could be potent at 1 1/8 miles.

Most of the others look as though minor placings are their best shot. Senor Buscador and #11 Saudi Crown could be worth a look for lower exotic rungs, as could local hope #1 Carmel Road.