Panthalassa storms to victory in $20m Saudi Cup

Country Grammer falls to narrow defeat for second straight year

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Panthalassa produced a remarkable front-running performance to strike gold for Japan in the $20million Saudi Cup, edging past Country Grammer.

The Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer was narrowly denied in the world's most valuable race 12 months ago when ridden by Flavien Prat, before providing Frankie Dettori with a fourth Dubai World Cup success at Meydan a few weeks later.

Following victory in California on Boxing Day, the six-year-old returned to Riyadh as one of two leading contenders for the Baffert team along with multiple Grade One winner Taiba, but Panthalassa set a strong gallop from the off at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh and could not be reeled in.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden by Yutaka Yoshida, Panthalassa dead-heated in last year's Dubai Turf with Lord North who earlier in the day had landed a far less lucrative Winter Derby at Lingfield.

Such was the pace Panthalassa set, Baffert's pair were under pressure before the home turn and it briefly looked like it could be a Japanese one-two-three-four with a trio of compatriots chasing Panthalassa up the straight.

But Dettori conjured a storming late rally out of Country Grammer, with the line coming just too soon as he was narrowly denied once again.

Updated: February 25, 2023, 7:30 PM