STRONG BREEZE wires allowance field

Sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Penn National, STRONG BREEZE (Mizzen Mast) gamely repelled a closer to wire the field for a win in allowance company. He is owned by Ernesto Padilla-Preciado  and trained by  Silvio L. Martin.

Report: Mucho Gusto moves on to the Dubai World Cup

Courtesy of the HorseRacingNation
Report: Mucho Gusto, Tacitus move on to the Dubai World Cup

Photo: Neville Hopwood/Dubai Racing Club

Two of the five American interests in last Saturday’s Saudi Cup will wheel back in another of the Middle East’s lucrative races.

According to Daily Racing Form reporter Marcus Hersch, trainers Bob Baffert (Mucho Gusto) and Bill Mott (Tactius) said Monday that their runners will stay overseas for the Group 1, $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 28.

Mucho Gusto, who set the pace in the Saudi Cup, weaved in the stretch under Irad Ortiz Jr. before fading to fourth. Campaigned now by Saudi interests, he entered off a victory in the Pegasus World Cup (G1), and Baffert said “a light went on” recently for the 4-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man.

Tacitus ran an even fifth in the Saudi Cup, his first start since a third last fall in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park. The 4-year-old son of Tapit, twice a graded winner last season, is more well known for his board-hitting tendencies with seconds in the Belmont Stakes, Jim Dandy (G2) and Travers (G1)
The top-finishing Americans in the Saudi Cup — winner Maximum Security and runner-up Midnight Bisou — are officially headed back home to the U.S., according to Hersh. Maximum Security trainer Jason Servis had said Sunday that the colt was “doubtful” to wheel back, saying “he needs ample time where I can lead him over, and I feel good about that he’s 100% and gives it his all.”

McKinzie, the other American runner in the Saudi Cup, disappointed when finishing 11th in his 5-year-old debut.

It’s likely Saudi Cup third-place finisher Benbatl, a Godolphin runner trained by Saeed bin Suroor, goes on to the Dubai World Cup as well. Those connections have won the last two editions of the race with since-retired Thunder Snow.

The top horse going straight from the states to Dubai is Sir Winston, the 2019 Belmont Stakes winner who recently won an Aqueduct allowance for trainer Mark Casse in his 2020 debut. Other Dubai World Cup contenders will be determined this weekend when the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) features on a “Super Saturday” card at Meydan. Among names on the initial entries list, Quip, a Grade 2 winner when campaigned in the U.S., is highest rated.

Americans Drawn Midfield In Saudi Cup

Courtesy of the TDN

Maximum Security in Saudi Arabia | Saudi Cup

By Jessica Martini

They traveled thousands of miles to get there, but the four main American contenders will all start within feet of each other in Saturday’s inaugural $20-million Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh after post positions were drawn Wednesday evening in Saudi Arabia. Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing’s champion filly Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute) will break from post six, while 2019 champion 3-year-old Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) will break from post seven and Bob Baffert stablemates Mucho Gusto (Much Macho Man) and McKinzie (Street Sense) drew posts eight and nine, respectively.

Also representing the U.S., Juddmonte Farm’s Tacitus (Tapit), who has impressed while training in the desert this week, drew post two.

“We blew him out Tuesday,” Riley Mott, deputizing for his father, trainer Bill Mott, said Wednesday. “He went in a pretty snappy time of :35 with a gallop-out of :48 3/5. He looked like he was galloping through the stretch. It didn’t seem he was going that fast, but good horses will do that. He’s generally not that aggressive of a work horse and he was by himself. Given those factors, it was very impressive.”

Tacitus, who made a habit of finding trouble for himself, while consistently hitting the board, in most of last year’s major sophomore races, will be making his first start since finishing third in the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup last September at Belmont Park.

The gray colt, a son of Juddmonte’s champion Close Hatches (First Defence), has acclimated well since shipping to Saudi Arabia last week, according to the 28-year-old Mott.

“He settled in immediately,” Mott said. “He’s very professional in that regard. His appetite has been good, his temperature has been good. Legs are clean. He’s moving sound. He seems to get over the track very well. When the horse gets over it, he doesn’t seem to be ‘spinning his wheels’ or struggling. It seems like a good surface as far as I can tell.”

While Midnight Bisou, Maximum Security, and McKinzie will all be making their 2020 debuts in the 1800-meter Saudi Cup, Mucho Gusto is coming off an authoritative victory in the Jan. 25 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who was on hand trackside in Riyadh for the first time Wednesday morning, said he has been impressed by the 4-year-old’s recent progress which culminated with the break-out win at Gulfstream Park last month.

“Mucho Gusto has really changed a lot,” Baffert said. “These last three months I’ve seen a big change in him. He’s filled out. He’s just changed for the better. You could tell from that last work right before the Pegasus Cup Invitational a light went on in him. The way he ran. He’s always shown up. He’s always run hard. He’ll be right there.”

Mucho Gusto will be making his second start for Prince Faisal Bin Khaled after beginning his career for Michael Lund Petersen, for whom he won four Grade III races at two and three.

Another veteran of the Pegasus World Cup card going postward in the Saudi Cup is the globe-trotting Irish mare Magic Wand (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who drew post 12 in the 14-horse field. The 5-year-old, campaigned by Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith, has won or placed in Group 1 races in Australia, Hong Kong, the U.S., Ireland, and France. She will be making her first start on dirt following a runner-up effort in the GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational.

Godolphin’s Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), a Group 1 winner on three continents, took to the dirt with aplomb in his most recent start, winning the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan Feb. 6. The 6-year-old will break from post three Saturday.

“It would mean a lot for us to win,” trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said. “It is the first ever Saudi Cup and the first big international race in Saudi. It is a very important race and would be important for us to see him run well and win. He has been a very good Group 1 horse for us and very versatile. I’m very happy with him and I think he will give a good run.”

The Saudi Cup will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 at Noon ET (DIRECTV ch. 219, Dish ch.150) with the undercard airing on TVG.The Saudi Cup will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 at Noon ET (DIRECTV ch. 219, Dish ch.150) with the undercard airing on TVG.

1 – Gold Dream
2 – Tacitus
3 – Benbatl
4 – North America
5 – Gronkowski
6 – Midnight Bisou
7 – Maximum Security
8 – Mucho Gusto
9 – McKinzie
10 – Chrysoberyl
11 – Great Scot
12 – Magic Wand
13 – Capezzano
14 – Mjjack