Horse racing has long been known as the “sport of kings.”
Long-standing annual institutions like the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic all reinforce this perception.
The sport of kings has a new sparkly jewel in its crown, with a $20 million purse.
On Saturday, Feb. 29, the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup will be contested over 1 1/8 dirt miles at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in the country’s capital city of Riyadh. This new contest will immediately become the richest horse race in history.
This page serves as an informative guide for wagering on the 2020 Saudi Cup.
How to bet the 2020 Saudi Cup
The best way to bet on the Saudi Cup is through a reputable pari-mutuel online provider, such as TVG.
To learn more about pari-mutuel betting and which states allow legal online wagering, see our Kentucky Derby prep page.
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TVG provides a smooth-running iOS app for Apple devices that is available for download in the Apple App Store.
Although there is no TVG app for Android users, the browser version of the site is easy to navigate on any web browser.
TVG is offering a $200 risk-free bet for new customers through March 19. To take advantage, sign up for an account and use the TVG promo code LSRTVG.
Fine print specifies that you must use the “risk-free bet” within 15 days of creating your account. Also, you must deposit money to wager. You cannot place exotic bets, so only single-horse and win bets. Win bet portions of win/place/show wagers will be refunded if the bet loses.
In summary, here is a potential TVG Saudi Cup freeroll scenario.
Say you open an account on TVG, deposit up to $200 and place a win bet on a single horse of up to $200. If your horse wins, you collect the winnings. If you lose, your bet will be refunded as a bonus.
If you lose and your bet is refunded, you must use the bonus within 30 days.
According to TVG, you will have to wait until the day before the Saudi Cup to wager on the race.
2020 Saudi Cup overview
The Saudi Cup has a maximum field of 14 entrants.
The race is open to Northern Hemisphere-bred horses who are four years or older and Southern Hemisphere-bred horses who are three years or older. The race will be run at 1 1/8 miles on dirt.
You can watch an interview with King Abdulaziz racecourse’s track manager, Bob Turman, here.
Turman details the unique composition of the track’s dirt surface, stating that the fine Saudi sand “tends not to compact as tight as some other dirt racetracks.”
Organizers of the race offer free entry into the contest. All expenses are paid for selected horses and their connections. For this reason and that the winnings are not taxed, are why at least 32 Group/Grade 1 stake race winners applied for entry consideration.
2020 Saudi Cup entrants and odds
|Gold Dream (JPN)||Osamu Hirata||1||TBA
|Tacitus (USA)||William Mott||2||TBA
|Benbatl (GB)||Saeed bin Suroor||3||TBA
|North America||W. Mott||4||TBA
|Gronkowski (USA)||Salem bin Ghadayer||5||TBA
|Midnight Bisou (USA)||Steve Asmussen||6||TBA
|Maximum Security (USA)||Jason Servis||7||TBA
|Mucho Gusto (USA)||Bob Baffert||8||TBA
|McKinzie (USA)||Bob Baffert||9||TBA
|Chyrsoberyl (JPN)||Hidetaka Otonashi||10||TBA
|Great Scott (KSA)||Abdullah Mishrif ||11||TBA
|Magic Wand (IRE)||A. O'Brien||12||TBA
|Capezzano (UAE)||Salem bin Ghadayer ||13||TBA
|Mjjack (KSA)||John Sadler||14||TBA
2020 Saudi Cup Day purse breakdown
The total Saudi Cup Day card will pay out $29.2 million in purses, with the Saudi Cup itself awarding a record-breaking $20 million.
The first-place winner of the Saudi Cup receives $10 million. The follow-up places break down as follows:
- Second place: $3.5 million
- Third place: $2 million
- Fourth place: $1.5 million
- Fifth place: $1 million
- Sixth place: $600,000
- Seventh place: $500,000
- Eighth place: $400,000
- Ninth place $300,000
- 10th place: $200,000
Places 11-14 receive nothing. The Kentucky Derby’s total purse is 85% less than the Saudi Cup.
There are seven undercard races on Saudi Cup Day:
- The Obaiya Arabian Classic: This race is for pure-bred Arabians who are four years or older. It is run at one mile and two furlongs on dirt. The winner receives $1.14 million.
- The Jockey Club Local Handicap: This race is for horses who are four years or older, and trained in Saudi Arabia. It is run at one mile and one furlong on dirt. The winner receives $300,000.
- The Longines Turf Handicap: This race is for at least four-year-old Northern Hemisphere-bred horses and Southern Hemisphere-bred horses who are three years and older. It is run at one mile and seven furlongs on turf. The winner receives $1.5 million.
- The Saudi Sprint: This race is for Northern Hemisphere- and Southern Hemisphere-bred horses who are three years or older. It is run at six furlongs on dirt. The winner receives $900,000.
- The Neom Turf Cup: This race is for Northern Hemisphere-bred horses who are four years or older, and Southern Hemisphere-bred horses who are three years or older. It is run at one mile and two-and-a-half furlongs on turf. The winner receives $600,000.
- The Saudi Derby: This race is for Northern Hemisphere- and Southern Hemisphere-bred three-year-old horses. It is run at eight furlongs on dirt. The winner receives $480,000.
- The 1351 Turf Sprint: For Northern Hemisphere-bred horses who are four years or older and Southern Hemisphere-bred horses who are three years or older. It is run at six-and-three-quarters furlongs on turf. The winner receives $600,000.
Note: Entries and post positions for the Saudi Cup and its undercards will be finalized on Feb. 25.
5 of the most anticipated entries (preliminary):
- Maximum Security: A four-year-old colt bred in Kentucky. He is owned by Gary and Mary West Stables, and is trained by Jason Servis. Maximum Security won the Grade 1 Florida Derby last year. He was to follow that win at the Kentucky Derby before his controversial disqualification.
- Midnight Bisou: A five-year-old mare bred in Kentucky. She is owned by Bloom Racing Stable, and is trained by Steven Asmussen. Midnight Bisou is coming off a second-place finish behind Blue Prize at Santa Anita Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November 2019. Before the Distaff, Midnight Bisou had won seven graded-stake races in a row.
- Tacitus: A four-year-old colt bred in Kentucky. He is owned by Juddmonte Farms, and is trained by William Mott. Tacitus has not won since taking down the Grade 2 Wood Memorial last year, but he has finished second or third in all five of his starts since. Tacitus has not raced since the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in September 2019, where he placed third.
- McKinzie: A five-year-old horse bred in Kentucky, is owned by Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman, and is trained by Bob Baffert. McKinzie is one of two Baffert-trained horses in the Saudi Cup. He is coming off a second-place finish behind Vino Rosso at the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
- Mucho Gusto: A four-year-old colt bred in Kentucky, is owned by Prince Faisal Bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, and trained by Bob Baffert. Mucho Gusto earns a berth here by pulling away down the final stretch at the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He gave Maximum Security all he could handle in the 2019 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.
Other horses expected to race
- Gift Box: A seven-year-old horse bred in Kentucky, is owned by Hronis Racing, and trained by John Sadler. The elder statesman of the race, Gift Box is coming off a win at the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 28, 2019 (he won the same race in 2018).
- Magic Wand: A five-year-old mare bred in Ireland. She is owned by Michael Tabor, Marcus Jooste, Mrs. John “Susan” Magnier and Derrick Smith, and trained by Aidan O’Brien. Magic Wand is coming off a second-place finish at the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. She last won at the Grade 1 Mackinnon Stakes in Flemington, Australia, a turf race.
- Gronkowski: A five-year-old horse bred in Kentucky, is owned by Khalid Bin Mishref and Phoenix Thoroughbred III, and trained by Salem bin Gadayer. This horse hasn’t won since 2018 and is perhaps best known for coming from behind to finish as the runner-up to Justify in the 2018 Belmont Stakes that saw the latter secure his Triple Crown Championship.
- Higher Power: A five-year-old horse bred in Kentucky, owned by Hronis Racing, and trained by John Sadler. This horse last won at the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 17, 2019, and is coming off a disappointing 10th-place showing at the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in January (see Mucho Gusto).
- Math Wizard: A four-year-old colt bred in Kentucky, owned by John Fanelli, and trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. Math Wizard’s last and only win was at the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park. He is coming off two consecutive finishes outside the money.
- Axelrod: A five-year-old horse bred in Florida, owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred Ltd., and trained by Salem bin Ghadayer. Axelrod hasn’t raced since March 2019 and hasn’t won in almost a year and a half.
How to watch the 2020 Saudi Cup
HBA Media owns the broadcast rights for the Saudi Cup.
Tom Ryan, director of strategy for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA), hints that the race could be on Fox Sports 1, though plans are still in the finalizing stages.
2020 Saudi Cup start time
The Riyadh time zone is UTC/GMT +3, which means the Saudi Cup’s local evening post time of 8:40 p.m. translates to a 12:40 p.m. EST start. Undercard program racing starts at 8 a.m. EST.