The Saudi Cup, which will be run on Saturday, February 29, is set to become the richest race in horse racing history. The race has a staggering prize pool of $20 million; $10 million will be awarded to the winning horse and another $10 million will be paid out across the next nine places down to the 10th place finisher.
The event in its entirety will take place over the course of two days and will be televised in the United States on Fox Sports 1. The Saudi Cup itself is a nine-furlong dirt race that has a projected post time of 8:40 p.m local time, which is 12:40 p.m ET for American viewers.
Contenders for the 2020 Saudi Cup
With such a massive prize pool at stake, teams around the world showed heavy interest in making the trip to the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But while 140 horses across 16 different countries received nominations, the field has been whittled down to just 14 horses that are ready to compete for this historic prize. Here’s a look at the contenders:
Maximum Security (2/1) – Trainer: Jason Servis, Record (9): 7-1-0
Maximum Security figures to be the one to beat in this field. The three-year-old crossed the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby (G1) before eventually being knocked down to 17th place for leaving his lane in the final turn before the home stretch. Since then, Maximum Security has bounced back with a second-place finish at the Pegasus Stakes and three straight wins in the Haskell Invitational (G1), Bold Ruler (G3), and Cigar Mile (G1)
McKinzie (5/2) – Trainer: Bob Baffert – Record (14): 7-6-0
One of two Bob Baffert horses in the race, McKinzie has been an extremely consistent performer across multiple graded stakes races, finishing in the top two in all but one of his 14 career races.
Benbatl (11/2) – Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor – Record (20): 10-3-1
Benbatl won his dirt debut in the Al Maktoum Challenge, Round 2 (G2) earlier this month. While he’d figure to be more dangerous on his preferred turf surface, the recent dirt win gives some reason for optimism.
Mucho Gusto (11/2) – Trainer: Bob Baffert – Record (11): 6-2-2
Mucho Gusto showed some good closing speed down the stretch to defeat Mr Freeze and War Story for the win in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in January.
Capezzano (15/2) – Trainer: Salem Bin Ghadayer – Record (16): 6-1-2
Capezzano has picked up wins in four of his last five races, most recently emerging victorious in the Firebreak Stakes (G3) earlier this month.
Midnight Bisou (15/2) – Trainer: Steven Asmussen – Record (19): 12-4-3
Midnight Bisou has never finished a race outside of the top three, and that includes 17 straight graded stakes races. In 2019, Midnight Bisou went 7-1-0 across eight impressive performances.
Tacitus (14/1) – Trainer: Bill Mott – Record (9): 3-3-2
Tacitus has finished each of his last five races in the top three without a win, including a third place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a second place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Chrysoberyl (16/1) – Trainer: Hidetaka Otanashi – Record (6): 6-0-0
This 4-year-old is off to a perfect 6-0 start in Japan, including a victory in last year’s Champions Cup (G1).
Gronkowski (20/1) – Trainer: Salem Bin Ghadayer – Record (14): 4-3-3
Gronkowski will be seeking his first win since March of 2018.
Gold Dream (25/1) – Trainer: Osamu Hirata – Record (23): 9-7-2
Gold Dream ran runner-up to Chrysoberyl in Japan’s Champions Cup in December.
Magic Wand (25/1) – Trainer: Aidan O’Brien – Record (23): 3-9-2
This will be Magic Wand’s first official race on dirt after running his first 23 career races on the grass.
North America (25/1) – Trainer: Satish Seemar – Record (19): 7-3-3
A perfect trip for North America includes getting out to an uncontested lead, which could be difficult in this speedy field.
Great Scot (40/1) – Trainer: N/A – Record (11): 4-1-2
Formerly trained by Tom Dascombe, who stated that Great Scot ran much better as a gelding, as shown in his victory in the Superior Mile (G3) last year.
Mjjack (66/1) – Trainer: Sami Alharabi – Record: N/A
Mijack has won five straight races against local competition, but will face a much steeper challenge in this field.