By Richard Rosenblatt
Champions Maximum Security and Midnight Bisou headline a star-studded field of 14 horses entered for the $20 million Saudi Cup on Saturday at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Maximum Security, the Eclipse Award winner as top 3-year-old male, drew the No. 7 post at Wednesday’s draw, while older female champion Midnight Bisou drew just inside at No. 6.
Two-time Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert will send out a pair in Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner Mucho Gusto and McKinzie, winner of the Whitney Stakes (G1) and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Maximum Security is listed as the 2-1 favorite at usracing.com, while McKinzie, who leaves from the No. 9 gate, is the 5-2 second choice.
Mucho Gusto, the co-third choice with Benbatl at 11-2, drew the No. 8 post.
“They shipped well. They’ve done well,’’ Baffert said at a news conference on Wednesday. “No negatives at all, they look healthy and happy. The track’s pretty nice. They’re both getting over it pretty well.”
Maximum Security, the DQ’d Kentucky Derby (G1) winner carrying a three-race winning streak into the Saudi Cup, will be ridden by Luis Saez. Midnight Bisou, who won her first seven races in 2019 (three Grade 1s) and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
The inaugural Saudi Cup at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, is the world’s richest horse race, topping the $12 million Dubai World Cup many in this field may be running in next month.
The field from the rail out, with usracing.com odds, is: Gold Dream (25-1), Tacitus (14-1), Benbatl (11-2), North America (25-1), Gronkowski (20-1), Midnight Bisou (15-2), Maximum Security (2-1), Mucho Gusto (11-2), McKinzie (5-2), Chrysoberyl (16-1), Great Scot (40-1), Magic Wand (25-1), Capezzano (12-1) and Mjjack (50-1).
Since the Derby, when Maximum Security was disqualified from first to 17th for interference that involved several horses, the colt ran second in the Pegasus Stakes, then won the Haskell Invitational (G1), the Man o’War (G3) and the Cigar Mile (G1).
“After the Derby, nothing bothers me,’’ Servis said at a news conference on Wednesday. “I though Max shipped well. I weighed him before he left and when he got here he last 27 pounds. We weighed him yesterday (Feb. 25) and he had gained back 11 pounds. So we are feeling OK.”
Midnight Bisou, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, has looked fantastic on the track the past few days as she prepares to face the boys for the first time.
Gambling is illegal in Saudi Arabia, so there is no betting line issued by the track. There are several ways to bet on the race through other wagering outlets.
Post time for the Saudi Cup is 12:40 p.m. ET.