The Saudi Cup 2023 entries are confirmed with 13 horses doing battle for the $10m first prize in what is the world’s richest horse race. The betting sees the Bob Baffert-trained Taiba as favorite as he tries to give the barn their first winner in this high-income contest.
The Saudi Cup will be run on Saturday, February 25 at 12:35pm (ET)
- Bob Baffert Has First Two In The Saudi Cup Betting
- 2022 Winner Emblem Road Is Back For More
- Frankie Dettori To Ride Country Grammer
- Saudi Cup Head-to-Head Runners Guide
Trainer Bob Baffert Has The First Two In The Saudi Cup Betting
The Bob Baffert barn will have a strong hand in Saturday’s $20m Saudi Cup, with Taiba and Country Grammer looking likely to be the first and second favorites in the betting.
Taiba was a good winner of the RUNHAPPY Malibu Stakes on Boxing Day (watch below) and before that was an excellent third to Flightline in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.
He won’t be meeting a horse of Flightline’s ability on Saturday and as a result the best US horse racing Sportsbooks are taking no chances having Taiba in as the clear 2023 Saudi Cup favourite.
2022 Saudi Cup Winner Emblem Road Bidding To Defend Crown
Emblem Road was the surprise Saudi Cup winner last year to win the 2022 Saudi Cup and returns to defend his crown on Saturday.
Since banking the $10 monster pot, Emblem Road has raced just twice – finishing 5th in the Grand Prix de Vichy last July but returned last time out at Riyadh (Jan 13, 2023) to win. He seems to adore the dirt track and after last year’s victory can’t be discounted.
Did You Know? ALL Three past Saudi Cup winners have been aged 4 years-old.
Frankie Dettori Gets the Ride On Country Grammer In 2023 Saudi Cup
The 2022 Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer will be the mount of Frankie Dettori, who has been riding winners at Santa Anita recently. This is also Dettori’s final season riding, having announced his retirement from the saddle last year – with this his farewell tour campaign.
Country Grammer also took silver in the 2022 Saudi Cup, so that valuable experience will be a huge positive and is another from the Bob Baffert barn.
The 6 year-old has won over $11m in total prize money and heads into Saturday’s race having won the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes on Boxing Day.
2023 Saudi Cup Runners: Head-by-Head Guide
Here are the final 2023 Saudi Cup entries, with the riders, trainers, draw and latest betting odds from BetOnline (subject to change)
1. Cafe Pharoah
Trainer: Noriyuki Hori
Jockey: Joao Moreira
Grade One winning horse from Japan that was last seen in October when winning the Mile Championship Nanbu Hai. Has raced well off a break in the past so the 138-break is fine, but wide stall in 13 isn’t ideal.
2. Country Grammer
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Frankie Dettori
Took silver in the race last year and the ride of Frankie Dettori, who is yet to lose riding the horse (2 runs). Won the 2022 Dubai World Cup though and is a very consistent performer with a top two finish in his last 8 races. Draw 10 not great (drawn 1 last year), so a Frankie masterclass might be needed. Regardless, is still a big player from a huge stable and expected to be in the shake-up.
3. Crown Pride
Trainer: Koichi Shintani
Jockey: Damian Lane
Another Japanese runner. Last in action when a neck second in the G1 Champions Cup at Chukyo – beaten by another Saudi Cup runner Jun Light Bolt. Has a better stall in 3 this time and no shock to see him overturn that run.
4. Emblem Road
Trainer: Mital Almulawah
Jockey: Alexis Moreno
Surprise winner of the Saudi Cup last year and returns to try and defend his crown. Only had two runs since that big success 12 months ago, but came back to the track to win last month here. Adores the dirt (5-from-5) and loves the Riyadh track. It would be another shocker if he can win again, but on this surface and at this course suggests he can’t be ruled out.
Trainer: Tetsuya Kimura
Jockey: Chrisophe-Patrice Lemaire
Yet another Japan entry, but a fair bit to answer after running down the field last time in the G1 Hong Kong Cup. A wide draw in 12 also makes life hard.
6. Jun Light Bolt
Trainer: Yasuo Tomominchi
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Beat Crown Pride by just a neck last time to win the G1 Champions Cup at Chukyo in Japan. The ride for top UK jockey Ryan Moore and has been given a useful stall in 6. Hard to pick holes in recent form, with three wins on the spin and will be fresher than most with 83 days off. Certainly has a chance.
Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi
Jockey: Yutaka Yoshida
Ran down the field in 10th in the Kong Hong Cup on most recent run and is now four races without a victory. Last success was in March 2022 when beating Lord North in the Dubai Turf at Meydan. Decent stall in 1 will help though and having not stayed recently, the return in distance will be a positive. This will be his first run on dirt but not without a squeak from draw 1 if taking to the surface.
Trainer: Bhupat Seemar
Jockey: Tadhg O’Shea
Won at Meydan last December, but that was only a Listed level race. Third last time in a G2, but beaten 8 1/2 lengths and with just one win from his last seven would be tall order. Was also just under 5 lengths behind Country Grammer in the Dubai World Cup last season.
9. Scotland Yard
Trainer: Mital Almulawah
Jockey: Victor Gutierrez
Lovely draw in 4 and comes here off the back of a very smooth 10 1/2 length win at this course. Up in class from that run, so more needed, but lightly-raced so could certainly have more in the tank. Could go well at a nice place price.
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike E Smith
The expected Saudi Cup favourite and it’s not hard to see why. The Bob Baffert-trained 4 year was a very easy winner of the RUNHAPPY Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on his last start. Before that was a respectable third to classy Flightline in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and with only seven career runs we’ve probably not got to the bottom of him yet. Well drawn in 2 and with ALL of the past three Saudi Cup winners aged 4, he’s got this main age stat in his corner too. The one all the others have to beat.
11. Vin De Garde
Trainer: Hideaki Fujiwara
Jockey: Mickael Barzalona
A close third in the Dubai Turf last March but has not been since (265 days off). Therefore, his fitness has to be taken on trust. Wider stall in 9 and you feel this Japanese 7 year-old might just find some younger legs improve past him here.
12. Lagertha Rhyme
Trainer: Naif Almandeel
Jockey: Ricardo Ferreira
Been handed the 11 stall and recent form suggest this 5 year-old mare has some improvement to find at this level. The positive is that she will get a handy 5lbs mares’ allowance from the others but it’s unlikely that will still be good enough.
13. Sunset Flash
Trainer: Naif Almindeel
Jockey: A Alsarhani
Second filly in the contest, so will another that will get the mares’ 5lb allowance. Below-par the last day here in a G3 race, over 6f. May do better over the longer distance but is another that might be a bit long in the tooth at 7 years-old. Would be a shock winner, but we had one of those last year.
Note: Odds are subject to change
What Time Is The 2023 Saudi Cup?
📅Time/Date: 12:35pm (ET) (Saturday 25th Feb 2023)
💰 Purse/Winner: $20m ($10m to winner)
📺 TV: NBC