With just four days left before the entry deadline for the $20 million Saudi Cup and the other seven races on the close-to-$10m undercard, prospects for the event are looking increasingly positive, especially with the latest news about top U.S. dirt performer Maximum Security.
The now 4-year-old, winner of three G1s - the Florida Derby, the Haskell Invitational and the Cigar Mile - and controversially disqualified after passing the post first in the Kentucky Derby last May, is now 50 percent-owned by Coolmore, and that makes his participation in the Saudi Cup on February 29 even more likely.
Gary West, who co-bred and co-raced him in partnership with wife Mary, told the Blood-Horse there was “no specific expiration date” for Maximum Security’s racing career, though the son of current world #24 dirt sire New Year’s Day would begin life as a stallion in 2021, when he is expected to stand alongside Justify and American Pharoah at the Irish operation’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Decisions on the colt’s target would be made jointly by Coolmore and the Wests, and he added, “We are all in favor of the Saudi Cup.”
The $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 28 could also be on the agenda. “The Dubai World Cup is an option, but that is completely [trainer] Jason Servis’ decision. Coolmore and I have agreed on that. We’ll be in that part of the world, and we’ll see how he comes out of the Saudi Cup.”
Maximum Security will be one of the main draws for the race, but it could also feature major U.S. dirt stars McKinzie, Midnight Bisou, Math Wizard, Tacitus and Tom’s d’Etat, as well as last year’s Dubai World Cup runner-up, Gronkowski, giving it a line-up potentially at least as strong as any similar dirt race run over the past 12 months.
Maximum Security is favored in early shows by British bookmakers, ahead of McKinzie and the mare Midnight Bisou.
Entries for all eight races close on Tuesday (January 7). Entry is free. Shipment of invited horses will be arranged and paid for by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, which will also pay for stables, fodder, veterinary fees and farrier, and arrange and pay for flights and accommodation of connections.
Free entry to the Saudi Cup will also be available for the first three finishers in the Pegasus World Cup Dirt at Gulfstream Park on January 25.
There is a $200,000 supplementary entry stage for the Saudi Cup on February 18, when supplementary entry will also be available for the five non-handicaps.
Final declarations will be on February 25, when the draw for the Saudi Cup will take place. Race-day Lasix or Bute are not permitted.