Knicks Go, Charlatan expected to fight out world's richest race — the US$20-million Saudi CupFriday, February 19, 2021
The richest horse race in the world, the US$20-million Saudi Cup, drew a full field of 14 on Wednesday.
It's a two-day meeting starting today (Friday) with a wide range of events culminating with the running of the Saudi Cup tomorrow.
The King Abdulaziz course in Riyadh is a new track. It's a standard left-handed dirt oval, the nine-furlong event (Saudi Cup) is held around one sweeping turn. Jockeys have been very complimentary about the surface and its lack of kickback.
CHARLATAN — 7/4. Trained by Bob Baffert, Charlatan is four for four. Having missed the Triple Crown races through injury, he returned from an eight-month layoff to win the Malibu Stakes at Gulfstream in January. That was over seven furlongs, but the horse has won over this trip and that Malibu win was impressive. He could be anything and is a worthy favourite.
KNICKS GO — 9/4. Brad Cox trains this Pegasus World Cup-winning star. Knicks Go's Breeders Cup Dirt Mile win was even more impressive, going wire to wire and setting a track record. He'll be the one to catch and sets a daunting standard.
MISHRIFF — 6/1. He hasn't been seen since finishing down the field in the Champions Stakes at Ascot. Mishriff overcame traffic to win the Prix du Jockey Club impressively, and trainer John Gosden has said he'd like a wide draw in order to drop in behind and pick his position. The layoff and lack of big race dirt experience may prove too much to overcome.
TACITUS — 11/1. Ran in this race last year and was always near the front without getting truly competitive. The horse doesn't have a Grade 1 winning record.
MILITARY LAW — 12/1. He won a Grade 2 at Meydan and won it really well, though has previously finished behind horses not good enough to take this.
CHUWA WIZARD — 14/1. The Japanese raider won an invitation here by taking the Grade 1 Champions Cup over today's trip at Chukyo. He travelled well and came home from midfield to win cozily. If anything is going to come from the back this might be the one.
MAX PLAYER — 16/1. He was the only horse to compete in all three US Triple Crown races, running with credit each time.
Sleepy Eyes Todd is admirable but won't win. Bangkok has taken an interesting route having won the Lingfield Winter Derby Trial in the UK; however, this is a huge leap in class and it's hard to see him getting involved at the finish. British phenom Hollie Doyle rides Extra Elusive who has G2 and G3 wins, but on a form line through Mishriff is up against it. Alzahzaah is here representing the Saudis but nothing else.
Knicks Go has the form in the book and will take some passing. The presence of Charlatan makes Knicks Go an attractive price too. I think he'll scoot off the front and come home untouched. Charlatan will need to get into a drive off the turn and may get picked up by closers for a place. Military Law has shown class and a good attitude, if he doesn't try to rate with Knicks Go he could stay on for a minor prize. Chuwa Wizard represents an element of the unknown, but didn't do a lot wrong last time and if the front-runners cut each other's throats then he could fly late and run in the money.
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