Junior Alvarado and Senor Buscador bid for historic double of Saudi and Dubai World Cup

Venezuelan jockey has never ridden at Meydan but is confident his mount has the all the tools to be victorious in $12 million race

Jockey Junior Alvarado, aboard Senor Buscador, wins the Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on February 24, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Getty
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Junior Alvarado couldn’t have wished for a better result on his debut ride in the $20 million Saudi Cup in Riyadh last month.

Alvarado clinched the world's richest race for thoroughbreds in thrilling fashion aboard Senor Buscador and the Venezuelan rider now has his sights set on adding the $12 million Dubai World Cup when he rides the six-year-old son of Mineshaft at Meydan Racecourse this Saturday.

No horse and jockey has won that particular double in the same year – Panamanian jockey Luis Saez won the inaugural Saudi Cup atop Maximum Security in 2020 and then rode Mystic Guide to glory in the Dubai World Cup the following year – and Alvarado believes Senor Buscador has all the tools needed to help him create history.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to ride in Dubai, so I don’t know how different the surface is compared to Saudi, but from watching race replays, I think Senor Buscador will handle the dirt completely fine,” Alvarado said.

“If anything, the track will favour us because of the nice long straight as he’s a big horse that keeps coming and coming.”

Alvarado had a few of the runners in the Dubai World Cup’s 12-strong field behind him when winning the Saudi Cup. In Riyadh, Senor Buscador dug deep to come from way behind the field to have his nose in front in the final stride and deny the 2023 Dubai World Cup winner Ushba Tesoro victory.

“The Dubai World Cup is going to be competitive. I don’t think I can point out one horse in particular, but the danger would be if there’s not enough pace,” Alvarado said.

“The pace will play a big factor, and we will try to avoid traffic when it’s time to make a run. He’s always going to show up and he’s going to run a big race, so there isn’t a specific horse to be scared of in the field.”

Alvarado is still relishing his extraordinary night in Riyadh and remains hopeful of replicating that special moment when he crossed the line first at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack.

“Turning in, I had a lot of ground to make up, so I was a little worried. In Senor Buscador’s case, I came round the outside and I was following Ushba Tesoro.

“I was then attempting to finish in the minor places which would’ve been good, but then I thought second would be great and all of a sudden 50 metres before the wire, I thought, ‘I have a chance here’. I went all out, and he kept digging, he fought and got to the wire first.”

Alvarado added: “It was a very good experience from the moment I landed in Saudi. I was very well looked after from start to finish.

“I love the racetrack, it’s probably one of the most beautiful tracks ever. As for the dirt track itself, I thought it felt very safe and even when being held up behind other horses, the kick back was not an issue. I felt there was a lot of cushion in the ground which helps the horses.

“I would love to return to ride in Saudi again, I would do it in a heartbeat! I had a beautiful experience there; everything was handled brilliantly and the racing is on another level.”

Prior to winning the Saudi Cup, Alvarado rode Senor Buscador in his last two starts, finishing second behind Hoist The Gold in the Grade 2 Cigar Mile Handicap on December 2, and beaten by National Treasure by a neck in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes on January 27.

Updated: March 29, 2024, 9:41 AM