The inaugural running of the US$20 million Saudi Cup, which became the world’s richest race on Saturday night, ensured that this event would go from strength to strength as it was a thriller and was won by a horse, Maximum Security, who is fast becoming a global hero.
South African racing personality Grant Knowles attended the meeting and said about the Jason Servis-trained USA-bred, “He’s not a big horse at all, but he is as tough as nails, a street fighter. I was really taken by him. He has amazing presence.”
Maximum Security had gained fame for becoming the first horse in Kentucky Derby history to cross the line first and then be disqualified for an on course infraction.
It was a highly controversial decision as there was little doubt that he was the meritorious winner.
The win on Saturday night was thus richly deserved and enhanced his career record to eight wins from ten starts.
He was up with the pace but had to be driven around the final turn to stay in touch with Mucho Gusto, who seemed to be traveling easily.
However, he showed tremendous courage in the straight and began fighting back.
Mucho Gusto then began carrying him outward and jockey Luis Saev switched Maximum Security inward at a stage where it looked too late to make such a manoeuvre.
However, incredibly, Maximum Security, to the roars of the 10,000 strong crowd, found an extra gear and nosed past before holding off the challenge of Midnight Bisou, who ran on strongly from well back.
Bebbatl edged Mucho Gusto for third.
The win further bolstered the credentials of the incredible sire Street Cry as Maximum Security is out of a son of his called New Year’s Day.
It was also testament to A.P. Indy, who passed away earlier in the week after a career which included a USA Horse Of The Year title, two leading North American sire titles and a leading North American broodmare sire title among other accolades.
Maximum Security’s dam Lil Indy is by the A.P. Indy sire Anasheed.
The meeting held at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh had eight lucrative races on either dirt or turf and they all attracted top class trainers, jockeys and horses from around the world.
Knowles said, “It was wonderful to see how much Saudi Arabia enjoyed hosting this international event. The people were extremely friendly, the facilities were World Class and both tracks received huge praise from both Jockey’s and Trainers alike. I’m positive that the event will grow each and every year. It was a fantastic international racing event.”
In comparing it to the Dubai World Cup, Knowles said, “It’s a different experience completely. Meydan is huge and has many years’ experience. The course here is not as big, but has a user friendly design and a much more sober feel about it.”
By David Thiselton