The third edition of the world’s most lucrative horse race, the $20 million Saudi Cup, was certainly a shocker with Emblem Road winning at odds of 113.5 to 1 and paying $229.  The American-bred 4-year-old has never raced outside Saudi Arabia and now has eight wins from 11 starts.  He is owned by Prince Saud bin Salman Abdulaziz, ridden by Panamanian-born jockey Wigberto Ramos, and trained by Mitab Almulawah.  The colt’s sire is Quality Road and his dam is a Bernardini mare with career earnings of $388 from two starts.

The crowd at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh showed their elation and appreciation as the local horse closed down the stretch from way back in the pack to pass U. S. entries Country Grammer, who finished second, and Midnight Bourbon in third.

Bob Baffert, whose win with Medina Spirit in the 2021 Kentucky Derby was just vacated by Kentucky stewards and upheld by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, had a monetarily rewarding day with a win in the $1.5 million Saudi Derby and a second with Country Grammer in the featured Saudi Cup.  The Saudi Arabian Jockey Club did not have to address Baffert’s 90-day suspension in Kentucky because it begins on March 8.

Mandaloun, the newly reognized winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby after Medina Spirit’s disqualification, finished ninth and Mishriff, winner of the 2021 Saudi Cup, finished last. Horse racing is truly a game of extreme emotional swings.

In my view, the telecast of the entire stakes-laden Saudi Cup card was well done.  Interviews were informative and the telecast contained interesting vignettes, such as how the Thoroughbred breed originated with Arabian sires. 

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