Maximum Security clinches inaugural $20million Saudi Cup in Riyadh

Godolphin’s Benbatl takes third to deny an American top four at King Abdulaziz Racetrack

Horse racing - Saudi Cup - King Abdulaziz Racetrack, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - February 29, 2020  Luis Saez wins the Saudi Cup on Maximum Security  REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Maximum Security underlined his top billing with victory in the inaugural $20million (Dh 74m) Saudi Cup leading a one-two finish for the USA at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on Saturday.

Godolphin’s Benbatl gate-crashed the party to take third and deny an American top four in the 1,800-metre race on the dirt surface.

“Hey mama. This is for you. I love you mama,” winning jockey Luis Saez said after crossing the finish line.

“This is for America, for my family, for my daughter, and all my people, especially for my mother in Panama. And my brother Ron. He is here with me.”

Maximum Security has won a majority of his races with his front-running tactics but this time he had to come from a long way from behind to collar Mike Smith on board Midnight Bissou.

“He broke so well. When he breaks he doesn't pick up the bridle like he used to but when he came into the straight he wanted to win so badly and he fought.”

Maximum Security won by three quarter lengths from Midnight Bissou. Benbatl was a further two and-a-half lengths in third ahead of Mucho Gusto and Tacitus.

“I can't believe it, it's going to take about a week for it to set in,” winning trainer Jason Servis said. “I've got to thank Gary West who wanted to come here today.”

Jockey Luis Saez celebrates with the trophy after winning the final race of the $20 million, the Saudi Cup, at King Abdul Aziz race track in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. The race is considered the world's richest horse race which attracted some of the world's best male and female jockeys. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The result took Maximum Security’s record to seven wins in nine career starts. He was runner up once and was also disqualified for interference.

The winner of the Saudi Cup will now travel for the Dubai World Cup on March 28 in a bid to complete the desert double.

Bahrain celebrated the first two winners in the Saudi Cup meeting. The Dubai World Cup Carnival regular Fawzi Nass-trained Port Lions under Adrie de Vries took the opening $1m Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup, a 2,100m Condition on turf.

Frankie Dettori on board Allan Smith’s Dark Power took the next, the $1m stc 1351 Cup another turf Conditions over the 1,400m distance.

Nass and De Vries created a piece of history to win the first ever turf race to be run at the new Riyadh course.

De Vries, a regular in the UAE, got up in the last few strides to win by a head from Japanese raider Deirdre under British champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

Next came the Dettori-show. The Italian rode a similar race, as De Vries earlier, to pip Mubtasim and James Doyle in the Godolphin silks to clinch victory.

Freddie Head’s Call the Wind with Olivier Peslier raised the flag in the $2.5m Longines Turf Handicap over the 3,000m trip.

Tallaab Al Khalediah, the 2018 Dubai Kahayla Classic winner, bagged The Cup for the Purebred Arabians and Omsiyaatee The Jockey Club Handicap for the locally trained horses.

The Samba Derby fell to Japan’s Full Flat. Yutake Take made every yard of the running on the Hideyuki Mori-trained Speightstown colt to come clear of John Gosden’s Mishriff and Godolphin’s Final Song.

New York Central under Irad Oritz provided local trainer Sami Al Harabi with his biggest racing success in the $1.5million Saudia Sprint.

Oritz produced an electrifying finish to pip Matera Sky in almost the last stride and deny Japan’s Take and Mori from completing a double at the meeting. Satish Seemar’s Gladiator King under Mickael Barzalona was third.