Log In

Jeremy Plonk: Saudi Cup Post Draw Reaction, Betting Info

by Jeremy Plonk

February 21, 2024

Led by Breeders’ Cup Classic / Florida Derby winner White Abarrio and Preakness / Pegasus World Cup champ National Treasure, a field of 14 (with one alternate) entered today for Saturday’s $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race. The sensational lineup also includes Pegasus World Cup runner-up Senor Buscador, Cigar Mile winner Hoist the Gold, Pennsylvania Derby victor Saudi Crown and the expatriated Hollywood Gold Cup winner Defunded.

With such American influence, attention on the Saudi Cup will be high when wagering is offered on the full, 9-race card from Riyadh Saturday, beginning at 7 am ET. Advance wagering on the full card from Saudi Arabia on Saturday will be available on both 1/ST BET and Xpressbet beginning Friday at 4 pm ET.

Horseplayers betting all of Saturday’s races from Saudi Arabia with 1/ST BET and Xpressbet can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets that finish second or third.

Japan seeks back-to-back Saudi Cup wins after Panthlalassa’s score in the race a year ago, and counters with a lineup that may even be superior to the Americans. Dubai World Cup winner Ushba Tesoro, Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Derma Sotogake and Japanese domestic dirt champion horse Lemon Pop are the headline acts. Japan secured 3 of the 6 races for Thoroughbreds on the 2023 Saudi Cup card and 4 of the top 5 placings in the $20 million main event.

The only American horse to win the first four Saudi Cup editions was Maximum Security in the 2020 inaugural when besting countrymate Midnight Bisou. Since, winners have been based in the UK, UAE and Japan.

The 1-1/8 miles distance of the Saudi Cup makes it a more tempo-driven ‘major’ than the 1-1/4 miles dirt showcases that tap stamina, such as the Dubai World Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic. The track layout at King Abdulaziz Racecourse makes this a one-turn race with a tremendous run into the only turn, nullifying the significance of the post draw in terms of potential ground loss. There’s plenty of time to get position into the bend. Panthalassa won wire-to-wire last year from the rail draw.

The Americans certainly don’t lack for pace with front-running National Treasure, Hoist the Gold and Saudi Crown among the expected early flyers. Defunded comes off an extended layoff and could be fresh early for new connections since moving to the Middle East. He’s drawn just outside Hoist the Gold and National Treasure, who both have top-class speed. Saudi Crown in post 5 is inner-most of those front-runners and could take additional pressure. That group has the potential to hook up and increase the pace tempo. Irad Ortiz Jr. may use a bit more of White Abarrio than usual from a rail draw, but there’s a lot of real estate on the backstretch run.

$20 million Grade 1 Saudi Cup // Saturday // King Abdulaziz Racecourse // Post Time 12:40 pm ET US

** Note ** Betting numbers and post positions do not match. Post positions are listed in parentheses behind the betting numbers for each horse.

1 (14)-Carmel Road (Abdullah Albadah // Camilo Ospina)
2 (6)-Crown Pride (Koichi Shintani // Joao Moreira)
3 (9)-Defunded (Abdulaziz Khalid Mishref // Luis Saez)
4 (13)-Derma Sotogake (Hidetaka Otonashi // Christophe Lemaire)
5 (8)-Hoist the Gold (Dallas Stewart // John Velazquez)
6 (2)-Isolate (Doug Watson // Joel Rosario)
7 (3)-Lemon Pop (Hiroyasu Tanaka // Ryusei Sakai)
8 (12)-Meisho Hario (Inao Okada // Suguru Hamanaka)
9 (7)-National Treasure (Bob Baffert // Flavien Prat)
10 (10)-Power in Numbers (Ahmed Mohamoud // Adel Alfouraidi)
11 (5)-Saudi Crown (Brad Cox // Florent Geroux)
12 (4)-Senor Buscador (Todd Fincher // Junior Alvarado)
13 (11)-Ushba Tesoro (Noboru Takagi // Yuga Kawada)
14 (1)-White Abarrio (Rick Dutrow // Irad Ortiz Jr.)
15 (also-eligible)-Scotland Yard (Mutaeb Almulawah // TBD)

Wagering Details (with takeout):

All Races: $1 Win (17.5%), $1 Place (17.5%), $1 Exacta (19%), 20-cent Trifecta (25%), 10-cent Superfecta (25%)
Races 4-9: 50-cent Pick 6 (25%)
Races 4-6: 50-cent Pick 3 (25%)
Races 7-9: 50-cent Pick 3 (25%)
Races 5-6: $1 Daily Double (25%)
Races 8-9: $1 Daily Double (25%)