The second SAUDI CUP, worth $20 million, will be held this Saturday, February 20, at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh and  there is some Canadian content on the big card of racing in Saudi Arabia.

The post position draw is Wednesday Feb. 17. In Canada, the Saudi Cup is scheduled to be shown on TSN-4 at 12 noon Feb. 20.

The first edition of the Saudi Cup was won by Maximum Security except that the $10 million winner’s share has never been paid out.

Following the running of the 2020 Saudi Cup Maximum Security’s trainer Jason Servis and others were indicted on charges in the USA. The sealed indictment, which covers a period of time between 2018 up to February 2020, alleges that Servis administered performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to horses in his care, including Maximum Security.

However, as a result of the USA indictment the JCSA received an objection to the participation of Maximum Security in the race. As a result of that objection and the indictment, the JCSA commenced its own investigation into the allegations which was notified to all connections of runners in the race, and to the wider public.

That investigation remains ongoing but has been hampered by the Covid-19 crisis and the fact that the JCSA is not a party to the ongoing legal proceedings in the USA. Therefore, unless and until the evidence that supports the sealed indictment in the US Proceedings is placed in the public domain, that evidence is unavailable to the JCSA’s investigation and to any JCSA inquiry.

Probable Saudi Cup field

Alzahzaah (KSA) Shaleh Alotalbi KSA
Bangkok (IRE) Andrew Balding GB
Charlatan (USA) Bob Baffert USA
Chuwa Wizard (JPN) Ryuji Okubo JPN
Extra Elusive (GB) Roger Charlton GB
Global Giant (GB) John Gosden GB
Great Scot (GB) Abdullah Mushrif KSA
Knicks Go (USA) Brad H Cox USA
Max Player (USA) Steven Asmussen USA
Military Law (GB) Musabbeh Al Mheriri UAE
Mishriff (IRE) John Gosden GB
Simsir (IRE) Fawzi Nass BAH
Sleepy Eyes Todd (USA) Miguel Angel Silva USA
Tacitus (USA) William Mott USA

Toronto’s JOHN FIELDING is a co-owner of the lightly raced 4-year-old CHARLATAN (Speightstown) who will be one of the favourites for the 1 1/8 mile race along with Pegasus World Cup winner KNICKS GO. Fielding owns Charlatan with SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Frederick Hertrich III and Golconda Stables.

Fielding,  who breeds horses with Hertrich and also races horses with partners, was a co-owner of Authentic early in 2020 before the colt was sold for breeding rights. He has kept his share in Charlatan who is trained by Bob Baffert is will be ridden by Mike Smith.

All eyes are soon to be fixated on American star Charlatan as he heads the market, with main rivals including Knicks Go, as well as Champions Cup (G1) winner Chuwa Wizard, Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) victor Military Law and battle-hardened American G2 winners Tacitus and Sleepy Eyes Todd.

Charlatan has been gingerly campaigned, to say the least, starting four times and crossing the wire first in all. He was disqualified from his six-length drubbing of the G1 Arkansas Derby last May for a medication violation, his third start, but returned seven months later to capture a salty Malibu Stakes (G1) renewal over four graded stakes winners.

Bred by Stonestreet and purchased by SF Bloodstock and Starlight for $700,000 at Keeneland’s 2018 September Yearling Sale, CHARLATAN is said to be razor sharp according to one of the co-owners.

“He’s in beast mode right now,” said Tom Ryan, principal of SF Racing and SF Bloodstock. “He’s happy and healthy. As Speightstowns often do, he’s getting better with age. I personally believe he’s an enormous talent (and) 2021 will hopefully be a career-defining year for him. Speed and versatility is what separates the good from the great horses and when you see him, you will understand why we reached for him as a yearling.

“This colt was raised on one of the world’s finest nurseries, Stonestreet Farm, which in my estimation is one of the leading breeders of the modern era–a trend we’re likely to see continue. He is without question the most spectacular of his breed, he moved with incredible efficiency and everything was effortless for him.”

Knicks Go is coming off one-sided performances in both the Breeders’ Cup and Pegasus–two races in which he went to the lead and barely saw another horse. From a speed figure standpoint, the pair are quite close, as Knicks Go earned a 108 for his Pegasus win, compared to a 107 for Charlatan’s Malibu–both eased up at the finish–and each earned Equibase Speed Figures of 115 for those efforts. The clash between two horses trying to lay claim to the same title is not lost on anyone, much less connections.

“Knicks Go is a sensational racehorse,” Ryan concluded. “He also seems to be improving with time. Two very fast animals with the ability to cruise through very fast fractions will make for a very interesting race.”

The remarkable Ontario-bred CHANNEL MAKER, freshly crowned Champion Turf Male in America for 2020, will compete in the $1 million Neom Turf at about 1 3/8 miles for his collection of owners that includes Reeves Racing, Wachtel Stable and others. Bill Mott trains the son of English Channel who was bred by Ivan Dalos.

~ with files from Tamarkuz media