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Swiss Skydiver, Charlatan Among Saudi Cup Entries

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has unveiled a massive list of entries, including many of the world’s top horses, for the second edition of the Saudi Cup meeting Feb. 19-20 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh.

The $20 million Saudi Cup itself, the world’s richest race, drew more than 100 entries from nine countries including Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Swiss Skydiver, Runhappy Malibu Stakes (G1) winner Charlatan, and Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Knicks Go. The field is limited to 14 starters.

The American entry list for the 1,800-meter (about 1 1/8-miles) Saudi Cup also includes Jesus’ Team, Sleepy Eyes Todd, Tacitus, Storm the Court, Max Player, Math Wizard, and Independence Hall.

England’s William Haggas entered the likes of multiple group 1 winner Addeybb while John Gosden entered Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby, G1) winner Mishriff and impressive all-weather specialists Global Giant and Dubai Warrior.

A big Japanese entry list includes Omega Perfume, recent winner of the Tokyo Daishoten (G1) on the Oi Racecourse dirt; 2020 Japan Dirt Derby winner Danon Pharaoh; and Japan’s recently crowned Dirt Horse of the Year, Chuwa Wizard, who gained an automatic spot for the Saudi Cup when winning last month’s Champions Cup (G1).

The winner of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 23 also will have an automatic entry to the Saudi Cup.

Powerful contenders from the Middle East include North America, a force in Dubai in 2019 but next-to-last in the 2020 Saudi Cup, and New York Central, the locally-trained winner of the 2020 Saudia Cup Sprint. Also entered is Alzahzaah, trained at King Abdulaziz by Shaleh Alotalbi and winner of his last four starts, most recently the domestic grade 1, the Crown Prince Cup.

The outpouring of entries for the Saudi Cup comes despite an ongoing controversy over the 2020 outcome. The $10 million winner’s share of the 2020 purse still has not been paid as Saudi authorities await the results of United States investigations and litigation involving the doping scandal allegedly tied to Jason Servis, who trained Maximum Security  to victory in that race.

The $1.5 million Saudi Derby also drew entries from around the globe, including Jackie’s Warrior and Hot Rod Charlie from the U.S. and Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac-Criterium des Pouliches (G1) winner Tiger Tanaka.

Trainer Bill Mott has entered multiple grade 1 winner Channel Maker in both the $2.5 million Long Distance Turf Handicap at 3,000 meters (about 1 7/8 miles) and the $1 million Middle Distance Turf Cup at 2,100 meters (about 1 3/8 miles).

(L-R): Tacitus and Channel Maker working. <br /> Breeders’ Cup horses at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. on November 1, 2020. ” src=”https://cms-images.bloodhorse.com/i/bloodhorse-images/2020/11/0da29d8c6ccb4f83bfeb2e612d6220c1.jpg?preset=medium” />Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt </p>
<p>Bill Mott stablemates Tacitus (outside) and Channel Maker train at Keeneland for the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships</p>
<p>The meeting opens Feb. 19 with a new race, the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap, intended to give “an opportunity for horses trained in Part II and III racing countries a chance to compete on the global stage,” according to Tom Ryan, director of strategy and international planning for the JCSA.</p>
<p>Entries for that event are restricted to Part II and III jurisdictions and come from nine countries—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic, and Greece.</p>
<p>Opening-day races also include the International Jockeys’ Challenge heats. Last year’s challenge winner, Swiss rider Sibylle Vogt, returns to defend her crown.</p>
<p>Ryan said organizers are “absolutely thrilled” with the entries, particularly given the challenges involved with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.</p>
<p>“Considering this is only the second year of a new international racing event, both the quality and depth of entries has grown significantly, and there is some really strong momentum behind the meeting,” Ryan said. “We have seen marked improvements across the board but most satisfying to us is the support that our turf races and the Saudi Derby have received.”</p>
<p>The 2020 turf races were the first ever run at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, conducted over a purpose-grown course that drew praise from jockeys and trainers.</p>

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