The day has finally arrived for the richest horse race in the world. The second installment of the Saudi Cup is scheduled for Saturday at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Cup post time is 12:40 p.m. EST. FOX Sports on FS1 and FS2 are airing the festivities live from King Abdulaziz Racetrack. This monster race is worth $20,000,000, which hopefully comes with less controversy than last year.
The purse money took nearly a year to figure out, as the disqualification of Maximum Security complicated the process. The drugged Maximum Security ultimately resulted in widespread allegations and subsequent arrests, notably to trainer Jason Servis. Maximum Security ran briefly for Bob Baffert’s barn and then retired shortly not too long ago in 2020.
I’m confident that we can get through the 2021 edition of the Saudi Cup without too much controversy, but we are talking about a $20,000,000 purse. There is bound to be at least one team upset with something along the way. Four American horses are expected to run, including Max Player, Charlatan, Tactitus, and Knicks Go. All four have a reasonable opportunity to win this event, with Charlanta and Knicks Go in excellent standing.
The $20,000,000 Saudi Cup isn’t the only heavyweight showdown on Saturday at King Abdulaziz Racetrack. There is a total of $30.5 million to be won on Saudi Cup Day. Head below for our free Saudi Cup picks for February 20, 2021 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack.
Race 2 – Turf Sprint
Post Time: 4:35 p.m. AST
Distance:6 ¾ Furlongs
Turf racing in Saudi Arabia is a new concept, as the grass track was constructed exclusively for the Saudi Cup events last year. In this turf event, a field of eleven will run for a $1,000,000 purse in the Turf Sprint. Glorious Journey and Space Blues should run up well with a chance of striking.
Glorious Journey is a British entry that has been a stakes runner right from the get-go. He has experience on this turf with an appearance in the Stc 1351 Cup on February 29. Glorious Journey ran well to show 3rd in that race, but was out of the picture at the wire.
Since that outing, Glorious Journey has finished 9th, 5th, 1st, 3rd, 3rd since that race. He had a win in the Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes on September 18, but has only been able to show since that performance. Glorious Journey most recently showed 3rd in the Al Fahidi Fort (Gr. 2) in Dubai at Meydan Racecourse on January 21.
Space Blues has been on fire and goes into the Turf Sprint on electric terms. The Irish bred Space Blues transfers to Saudi Arabia after finding a lot of success in France. Space Blues is on a four-race winning streak, with three graded wins in a row.
He is coming off a nice win in the LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest (Gr. 1). Space Blues took the lead for the final 50 yards and was ridden out easily for a win. In his last two wins, Space Blues was ridden out late in the event for easy victories. Expect more of the same if Space Blues comes to play in Saudi Arabia.
Race 6 – Saudi Derby
Post Time: 7:01 p.m. AST
The Saudi Derby is a $1,500,000 event on the dirt with 13 runners scheduled to participate. Rebel’s Romance and Soft Whisper are likely going to run well in this performance. Rebel’s Romance is a perfect 3 for 3 in his career, but is racing in the biggest race of his career on Saturday. This will certainly be the toughest outing for Rebel’s Romance.
Rebel’s Romance is coming off a win at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai in a Conditions event. He was a heavy favorite in that one, closing a 4/9 or -225 on American odds. In his debut in Saudi Arabia, Rebel’s Romance will need an even bigger performance to find the winner’s circle in this event. This is going to be a tough ride against Soft Whisper. Soft Whisper is on a four-race winning streak and is 4 for 6 in her career. The filly has a good case for upsetting the boys in the Saudi Derby.
Soft Whisper won a similar race as Rebels Romance on January 7 at Meydan Racecourse in an even more impressive performance. In her next and most recent entry, Soft Whisper won the UAE 1000 Guineas in a tougher assignment on January 28. She ran on well and was clear easily in the stretch. Mike Smith is aboard Soft Whisper for this ride. If she runs as nicely as she did January 7, then a win is within reach.
Race 8 – Saudi Cup
Post Time: 8:40 p.m. AST
Distance:1 ⅛ Mile
The feature event of the year is the $20,000,000 Saudi Cup on Saturday. The Americans are going to be right up there, and it’s hard to ignore a potential duel unfolding. Knicks Go and Charlatan have the talent to run away from this field.
However, a potential upset candidate on Chuwa Wizard certainly is worth some consideration. The Japanese Chuwa Wizard is in nice form at the moment, and has 10 wins in 18 entries. He has finished 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 1st in his previous four outings, with a win in the Champions Cup (Gr. 1) in his latest race.
Bob Baffert’s Charlatan heads into the Saudi Cup as the betting favorite on the morning-line. It’s hard to argue with that, as Charlatan is a beast and could have won the Kentucky Derby if it wasn’t for a minor ankle injury. Charlatan sat that race out, along with the Breeders’ Cup.
Charlatan returned to the track on December 26 in the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (Gr. 3) with a dominant performance. He defeated Express Train by 4 ½ lengths and cleared easily going into the stretch. Charlatan is 3 for 4, would be 4 for 4 if he wasn’t disqualified in the Arkansas Derby (Gr. 1) in May.
Knicks Go is in tremendous form at the moment and rates a threat to all. He is a winner in four straight, and coming off a win in the $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Mile over Jesus’ Team by 3 ½ lengths. Knicks Go geared down late and could have won by more if he really wanted.
He was able to follow up in the $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park over Jesus’ Team again in a similar race, but this time Knicks Go won in wire-to-wire form. He geared down yet again late and was under no pressure. Knicks Go might need to go all out in this performance, but I’m going to go with him over Charlatan. His current form is hard to ignore and he’s getting better value.