The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced Friday that four races in the US and Japan will serve as “Win and You’re In” events for next year’s Saudi Cup Day races.
Heading the list is the Grade 1 $3 million Pegasus World Cup. That race, one of the richest in the US, is Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park. The winner of that race gets a spot in the $20 million Saudi Cup.
That illustrates how Mucho Gusto earned his spot in last year’s inaugural Saudi Cup. The Bob Baffert trainee – owned by Saudi Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Al Saud — won the Pegasus World Cup. He followed with a strong fourth-place finish in the Saudi Cup.
The second entrée into the Saudi Cup comes from Japan. The winner of its Grade 1 Champions Cup on Dec. 6 gets a Saudi Cup spot. Much like Chrysoberyl and Gold Dream did last year. The two horses, who went 1-2 in the Champions Cup, went 6-7 in the Saudi Cup. Gold Dream finished sixth, Chrysoberyl seventh.
Turf History Made Last Year
Joining the qualifying slate is the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf. The winner of that event punches his ticket to the $1 million Grade 1 Middle Distance Turf Handicap on the Saudi Cup undercard.
Last year, that event became the first turf race staged in Saudi Arabia’s history. Bahrain-trained Port Lions – ridden by Adrie de Vries of The Netherlands – captured that race.
“The Pegasus races have consistently attracted the best horses in the USA since they were established in 2017, and this is exactly the caliber of runner we want to continue to welcome to Riyadh for Saudi Cup on both the dirt and turf tracks,” said Tom Ryan, the JCSA director of strategy and international racing in a statement.
Extra Saudi Cup Day Races Up and Down the Class Pyramid
Rounding out the Saudi Cup Day qualifying events is the Dec. 13 Grade 3 Capella Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse. The winner of that race earns a spot in the $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint.
“We are keen to encourage more international runners across all our races, not just the marquee Saudi Cup event. And so, we feel our association with this strong sprint in Japan is an important step for us as we build on the successes of year one,” Ryan said.
Making its debut on the Saudi Cup card is the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap, a race for smaller racing countries according to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. That race runs Feb. 19, 2021, the day before the Saudi Cup.