Baffert Holds Trump Cards In Saudi Cup

Baffert runners at top of Hollywoodbets boards

The fourth running of the world’s richest race, the $20 million Gr1 Saudi Cup on Saturday at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, features a rematch of the first two finishers from 2022 plus a potent sextet from Japan and a few wild card possibilities.

The 2022 Saudi Cup runner-up Country Grammer is at 7-2 second favourite with Hollywoodbets, behind stablemate Taiba. Last year’s winner Emblem Road is at 16-1.

Country Grammer went on to win the $12 million Gr1 Dubai World Cup with Frankie Dettori taking over for Flavien Prat, then posted three straight runner-up finishes in California before winning the Gr2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita after Christmas.

The top-class Country Grammer – did everything but win last year

Trainer Bob Baffert will saddle the top two and was quoted after the draw ceremony as saying that he hoped Taiba would have drawn a little more outside than his 2 gate.

“’Country’ got number 10. But now that’s a problem for the jockeys. They’ll figure it out,” he added.

All the draws and comments:

Cafe Pharoah (JPN) – (Drawn 13)

Owner’s representative Chris Nol: “We’ve got a long run to the first turn so we’re not worried about the draw. We’re not worried about the distance, we’ll have no problems with that. He’s travelled well and everything’s on target at the moment.”

Assistant trainer Naoto Suzuki: “The course has a long back stretch and therefore I don’t feel any disadvantage in the outside gate. Perhaps it will be better inside as he won’t get in a traffic jam.”

Country Grammer (USA) – (10)

Trainer Bob Baffert: “He had the rail last year, it didn’t bother him at all. Frankie Dettori knows the horse really well, I’m lucky to have two Hall of Fame jockeys.”

Crown Pride (JPN) – (3)

Trainer Koichi Shintani: “I’m happy, I’m hoping three is the lucky number for me. I wanted to avoid the extreme outside or inside. He has a lot of early speed so this is ideal to get a good position.”

Emblem Road (USA) – (8)

Jockey Alexis Moreno: “I’m so happy with the number eight, he’s a late horse from the gate, so I can be outside easily. He’s doing very well, he’s run well and I hope he can do it again.”

Stable representative Hisham Abdulwahed: “Eight is good for him. This morning I hoped for maybe seven, so this is very similar. Anywhere from eight to 13 would have been good for him.”

Geoglyph (JPN) – (12)

Trainer Tesuya Kimura: “It’s the first time to run on dirt and we don’t want him to get too much kickback, so the draw should be preferable for me. He should handle the dirt surface pretty well on his pedigree and he’s handling it well in training.”

Jun Light Bolt (JPN) – (6)

Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi: “Several front-runners drew inside so there is going to be plenty of early speed. From gate six, I believe he can settle anywhere the jockey wants to be.”

Lagertha Rhyme (IRE) – (11)

Trainer Naif Almandeel: “This race we have the best horses in the world, it’s a tough race but we hope our filly will have a good race. Very good [draw]. She’s an on-pace  runner.”

Panthalassa (JPN) – ( 1)

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi: “I never think about the numbers but number one should be a good number. There’s only one instruction – gotta go!”

Remorse (IRE) – (7)

Caroline Seemar, assistant trainer: “He got a little hampered in his last race but he’s improved afterwards, shipped over well and seems in great form. He’s a tough little neat horse, if things go his way he won’t be too much of an outsider, fingers crossed.”

Bhupat Seemar, trainer: “We’ve been really unlucky with posts recently but it’s better than 13.”

Scotland Yard (USA) – (4)

Stable representative Hisham Abdulwahed – “It’s a great draw for him. He goes in front, doesn’t come from behind, so it’s really great. He has done great here in his three races. This is a big race, a tough race, many good horses and he has to prove himself. He has showed a lot of potential and can prove to be a champion. He’s a good jumper and a great horse.”

Sunset Flash (IRE) – (5)

Trainer Naif Almandeel: “The barrier – she’s a horse that likes to be midfield or more forward, we’ll see how it goes.”

Taiba (USA) – (2)

Trainer Bob Baffert: “I think it’s good to have a speed horse inside of him. He likes company, to run with another horse to get him into the race.”

Vin de Garde (JPN) – (9)

Assistant trainer Kazuo Fujiwara: “The draw is not my concern – I believe he will show his great turn of foot.”

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