Saudi Cup: Knicks Go and Charlatan Lead Field of 14

Horse Racing Radar
Frisco Bash
Frisco Bash is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, February 19, 2021

It is the richest race in the world - and the most generous. Due to its purse structure, the $20-million Saudi Cup could create four new millionaires just by having their entrants finish in the top four, all of which is decided in just two minutes. Perhaps the most lucrative span of two minutes in all of sports.

Saudi will award $10 million to first place, $3.5 million to second, $2 million to third, $1.5 million to fourth.

A field of 14 will line up on the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is a 1 ? mile run on the dirt. 

The post time is 12:40 PM ET. 

  1. Chuwa Wizard - 10/1

  2. Bangkok - 25/1

  3. Great Scot - 50/1

  4. Max Player - 16/1

  5. Knicks Go - 5/2

  6. Global Giant - 40/1

  7. Tacitus - 14/1

  8. Sleepy Eyes Todd - 20/1

  9. Charlatan - 7/5

  10. Military Law - 12/1

  11. Simsir - 30/1

  12. Mishriff - 7/1

  13. Derevo - 40/1

  14. Extra elusive - 33/1

Last year, the U.S. dominated the race, taking four of the top five placings. This year, the U.S. is represented by just four horses, from the barns of: Bob Baffert, Brad Cox, Steve Asmussin, Bill Mott, and Miguel Silva. But most eyes will be focused on the two heavy hitters: KNICKS GO and CHARLATAN. We can expect them to rake in a considerable amount of betting money. Let's have a look at their profiles, plus the others with solid chances.

KNICKS GO comes off a front-running win in the Pegasus Stakes, which is also at this 1 ? mile distance. There's no one else to beat back at home; he is the world's best should he win this. He's won four in a row and keeps on delivering for trainer Brad Cox. KNICKS GO's strategy is simple: catch me if you can. He received an Equibase Figure of 115 for his last race. 

CHARLATAN is unbeaten, untested, and lightly raced entering the Saudi Cup. He romped in the Malibu and came into this race with ultra confidence. But the Malibu was a restricted race for three-year-olds. The next most accomplished competitor in that race, COLLUSION ILLUSION, wasn't in his best form to give him a good run. We will see just how good CHARLATAN is on Saturday. It is KNICKS GO he will be chasing this time, not a maiden graduate. Like KNICKS GO, CHARLATAN earned a 115 Equibase Figure for his last race! 

TACITUS, SLEEPY EYES TODD, and MAX PLAYER round out the remaining U.S. contenders. 

TACITUS ran strongly in last year's Saudi Cup despite finishing fifth. He made a bold move on the turn for home but was outrun. But the takeaway is he is capable of producing that run over this track. If they go too fast up front, watch out for the big gray to come charging. 

SLEEPY EYES TODD was last seen finishing fourth in the Pegasus World Cup. Prior to that he strung together two consecutive wins at seven furlongs. He's won a grade 2 at this 1 ? distance. One must think finishing some four lengths behind a primed KNICKS GO, as he did in the Pegasus, could very well be enough to grab some on-the-board prize money. To actually win, he will need a pace meltdown and a stronger late kick than several of his opponents. 

MAX PLAYER comes into this race off a fifth place effort in last October's Preakness Stakes. He's won at this 1 ? distance.  He's been working consistently for trainer Steve Asmussen, never missing a workout dating back to December.

How about the rest of the international field? A few of them are coming off winning efforts. SIMSIR just beat GLOBAL GIANT in a 1 ¼ quarter race on the turf, three months back. They both must shorten for this effort and find some early speed to stay in contention. 

CHUWA WIZARD is the Japanese entrant for trainer Ryuji Okubo. He comes off a grade 1 win in the Champions Cup over this same 1 ? distance on the dirt. Both MILITARY LAW and BANGKOK also enter off winning efforts. BANGKOK might prefer longer, "classic" distances, but his back class makes him a threat in this. He finished second to JAPAN in the King Edward Stakes two years ago; he has run against the likes of GHAIYYATH, LORD NORTH, and ADDEYBB. MILITARY LAW won his prep race at Meyden last month. Before that, he ran second to a good horse in BENBATL, who ran third in last year's Saudi Cup. 

MISHRIFF is an interesting contender. He's pegged at 7-1, and comes off an 8th place finish in the Champion Stakes. But before that, he strung three wins in a row, including a grade 1 victory in France over the turf. What's more, he is no stranger to the track in question. He ran in the Saudi Derby last year and finished a respectable second, where he was gaining ground on the winner. 

As for the rest of the field, they're pegged at much higher odds. Anticipate even more value if more money floods to CHARLATAN and KNICKS GO, in what looks like a two-horse race.


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