Apparently, money talks.
The inaugural Saudi Cup, to be run February 29 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, will become the richest horse race in history with a purse of $20 million. As expected, the U.S. will be well represented in the one-turn, 1-1/8 mile dirt race. Flying from Florida this week to contest the Saudi Cup will be:
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• McKinzie — Trained by Bob Baffert, McKinzie was runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November. He has trained in excellent fashion since and the one-turn configuration and nine-furlong trip should be right up his alley.
• Mucho Gusto — A stablemate of McKinzie, Mucho Gusto was purchased privately by Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdulaziz prior to winning last month’s Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park at the same distance as the Saudi Cup.
• Maximum Security — The only horse to be disqualified from winning the Kentucky Derby for a racing infraction, he won the Grade I Cigar Mile around one turn in December. He was originally pointed to the Pegasus World Cup, but when a purse cut was announced, trainer John Servis and owners Gary and Mary West called an audible and pointed to the Saudi Cup instead.
• Midnight Bisou — The 2019 Eclipse Award champion older Filly or Mare will face the boys for the first time in the Saudi Cup. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bisou has worked very well at the Fair Grounds this winter and should find the distance and track configuration to her liking.
• Tacitus – The Bill Mott trainee has not won since the Grade II Wood Memorial last April, but he has been close against top company in races like the Travers, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Belmont Stakes, and the Kentucky Derby.
The biggest threat to the U.S. group may be Benbatl. The Godolphin stable six-year-old horse is a four-time Grade I winner on turf and has won in Australia, Saudi Arabia, and England. Benbatl tried dirt for the first time at Meydan City in Dubai Feb. 6 and was powerful pulling away to win the Group II Al Maktoum Challenge.
The race is scheduled to be televised by Fox Sports 1 in the U.S. with post time approximately 9:40 a.m. pacific.
Racing’s tough week
The police blotter was busy last week.
Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. failed to show last month for an arraignment in San Diego County pertaining to three felony counts and one misdemeanor regarding domestic violence arrests from last year.
Arroyo had a good reason for not showing up. He is currently incarcerated in men’s central jail in Los Angeles on a bond of $1.025 million after being arrested in Pasadena area near Santa Anita.
The troubled Arroyo has not ridden since October due originally to foot and shoulder injuries from a training accident at San Luis Rey Downs. He has had several run-ins with the law, including a six-week jail term in 2003 when convicted on second degree assault after a fight in a pool hall. He also served 14 months of a 2 1/2-year sentence in 2010 for a cocaine possession arrest near Saratoga in 2009.
Trainer Ari Herbertson was arrested at Golden Gate Fields and was scheduled to be arraigned last Friday on four felony charges due to an alleged sexual assault.
He was charged with attempted rape and sexual battery on an unconscious victim. The incident allegedly occurred in early 2019. Herbertson has reportedly disbanded his stable and is no longer training at Golden Gate.
On the equine side, top three-year-old filly Taraz suffered a catastrophic injury Monday morning during a workout at Oaklawn Park and had to be euthanized. The undefeated filly was nominated to the Triple Crown and was pointing to the Grade III Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn on March 7.
Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Brad Cox, Taraz had also been considered for upcoming Derby prep races vs. the boys.
Gulfstream Pick-5 carryover
There is a late Pick Five carryover of $203,726 going into the Thursday card at Gulfstream Park. The sequence involves races 6-10, with an expectation of a positive return on investment. Time to play!
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Gulfstream Park Thursday, Race 6: Stormy Nelly (No. 7). How about a potential Pick Five single for the carryover at Gulfstream Park? Stormy Nelly ran well in only start over the course and distance in December and returns with top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.