Spot Plays: 2024 Saudi Cup Undercard

February 22nd, 2024

With five races carrying more than $1 million in prize money, the undercard on Saudi Cup (G1) day is full of opportunities for players.

Some top-class international performers have made their way to King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh for these events. Here are some spot plays to consider.

Race 4: Saudi Derby (G3), $1.5 million, 1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-olds, dirt

Two horses stand out here. Japan’s #6 Forever Young was way too good in the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun in December, and he should be hard to roll here. But the US sends a good-looking representative in the form of Pasco S. winner #5 Book’em Danno. The best option may be an exotic which anchors both of them.

Race 5: Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3), $1.5 million, 1,200 meters (about 6 furlongs), 3-year-olds and up, dirt

Steve Asmussen has taken #9 Skelly to Saudi Arabia for this race after winning seven races in a row going back to this time last year. He has a wide gate to overcome here but looks like he can step up in what isn’t an especially strong race. Japan’s #8 Remake and Dubai’s #10 Tuz look the toughest opponents.

Race 6: 1351 Turf Sprint (G2), $2 million, 1,351 meters (about 6 3/4 furlongs), 4-year-olds and up, turf

#4 Bathrat Leon caused a minor surprise when he won this last year. His form since has been reasonable, but this seems to be his perfect distance and his form in the Middle East overall is first-rate. #10 Mysterious Night is in great form in Dubai, while the filly #14 Matilda Picotte enjoys this distance and is right in the hunt at her best if she can handle a good surface.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #4 Bathrat Leon
  • $2 exacta: 4 with 10, 14

Race 7: Neom Turf Cup (G2), $2 million, 2,100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles), 4-year-olds and up, turf

It’s a decent field here, but one horse stands out. #9 Luxembourg is a genuine Group 1 horse in Europe, and he pushed the outstanding Hong Kong horse Romantic Warrior close in the Hong Kong Cup (G1) in December. His form line is much above the rest of this field and a repeat of his Hong Kong effort should see him win. #6 Hearts Concerto, #10 Spirit Dancer, and #13 The Foxes look the best options for exotics.

  • $20 win: #9 Luxembourg
  • $1 trifecta: 9 with 6, 10, 13 with 6, 10, 13

Race 8: Red Sea Turf H. (G3), $2.5 million, 3,000 meters (about 1 7/8 miles), 4-year-olds and up, turf

Some handy turf stayers are contesting this race, including St. Leger (G1) fourth #11 Tower of London and Yorkshire Cup (G2) winner #1 Giavellotto. But under handicap conditions, the one to watch may be the good French horse #5 Al Nayyir, who could have a fitness edge courtesy of his second to Siskany at Meydan Jan. 26.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #5 Al Nayyir.