HomeHorse RacingBaffert Quartet Heads American Contingent to Saudi

Baffert Quartet Heads American Contingent to Saudi


Related stories


Trainer Bob Baffert dominates the American anticipated contingent for the $35.1 million Saudi Cup (G1) program, with Country Grammer  and Taiba  slotted for the $20 million Cup itself and Havnameltdown  and Speed Boat Beach  for the $1.5 million Saudi Derby (G3) at one mile.

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia on Feb. 10 announced horses from 16 countries in the “likely fields” for the 16 races spread across the Feb. 24-25 weekend.

Baffert’s are the only Americans in the Cup and Derby, although Bill Mott, Steve Asmussen, Chad Summers, and Brendan Walsh are represented elsewhere on the rich program at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.

Baffert and Country Grammer have unfinished business in the 1 1/8-mile Saudi Cup (G1). Country Grammer all but won the race in 2022, caught in the final strides by a locally trained horse, Emblem Road. He shook off that disappointment to win the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in his next start.

After three intervening second-place finishes, the Tonalist   horse finished his 5-year-old season with a 4 1/2-length victory in the San Antonio Stakes (G2) in December.

Sign up for

Photo: Benoit Photo

Taiba romps home in the 2022 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park

Taiba, a son of 2017 Dubai World Cup runner-up Gun Runner  , posted four wins, three of them grade 1s, from seven starts as a 3-year-old and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Both worked well at Santa Anita Feb. 5, after which Baffert texted, “All ready for Saudi.” After the announcement of the projected fields, he said he wouldn’t comment further until the horses were safely bedded down at King Abdulaziz.

They face a daunting lineup, including returning champion Emblem Road. Six of the 14 prospects are from Japan, among them Cafe Pharoah , two-time winner of the February Stakes (G1) on the Tokyo Racecourse dirt; Crown Pride , winner of the 2022 U.A.E. Derby (G2) who faded from a suicidal pace duel in the Kentucky Derby (G1) to finish 13th; and Panthalassa , dead-heat winner of the 2020 Dubai Turf (G1), who has not run on dirt in any of his 24 previous starts.

Dubai-based trainer Bhupat Seemar has Remorse  entered for the Saudi Cup off a third-place finish in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) at Meydan

The Saudi Derby has four Japanese entries, all of them early U.S. Triple Crown nominees, and two from Uruguay to face six local horses and the Baffert duo.

Havnameltdown, a Florida-bred colt by Uncaptured , has won four of his five starts and finished second in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). Speed Boat Beach has won on both turf and dirt, most recently scoring in the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3T) on the Del Mar grass Dec. 4. The Bayern  colt faded late in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1T) to finish ninth.

The $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) at 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) drew three U.S. entries to take on returning champion Dancing Prince and others in a powerhouse lineup.

Elite Power with Irad Ortiz Jr wins the Sprint (G1) at Keeneland in Lexington, KY on November 5, 2022.
Photo: Skip Dickstein/Tim Lanahan

Elite Power takes the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland

Mott has entered Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and reigning Eclipse Award winner Elite Power . Asmussen has grade 1-winning Gunite , who kicked off his 2023 season with a victory in the King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Summers is represented by Meraas , winner of the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) at the 2022 Dubai World Cup Carnival. The latter won an allowance optional claimer at Aqueduct Racetrack Dec. 30.

Casa Creed  is Mott’s hope in the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3) at 1,351 meters (about 6 1/2 furlongs). He finished second in that event in 2022 and won the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) at Saratoga but finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) in his most recent start.

Brendan Walsh has Nearctic Stakes (G2T) winner Cazadero  in the same field.

Likely fields can be found online

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here