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$20 Million Saudi Cup Contender: CARMEL ROAD

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A likely field of 14 has been announced for the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) on Feb. 24 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – the world’s richest horse race.  usracing.com will post profiles for all the starters, with post positions, odds, and updates provided when available.

CARMEL ROAD

When last seen in the United States, Carmel Road was slogging home a leg-weary ninth in the Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack in March 2023. Having taken the lead through a half in 45.53 seconds, the son of Quality Road came up empty in the stretch and finished 18½ lengths behind Raise Cain, with Tim Yakteen replacing the then-suspended Bob Baffert as the trainer of record.

Ostensibly on the Triple Crown trail, Carmel Road was then taken out of the picture completely when he was sold to King Abdullah bin A/Aziz Sons KAS for $260,000 in the April Horses of Racing Age sale at Keeneland.

“We were looking for (a son of) Quality Road for racing in Saudi Arabia,” said KAS’s bloodstock agent Pedro Lanz, noting that Emblem Road had won the previous year’s Saudi Cup. “This was a great sale to find a horse with potential. He was second to one of the main contenders in the Kentucky Derby (Practical Move in the Los Alamitos Futurity). Nice pedigree, stallion potential – we’re very happy.

“They are trying to get the best horses in North America to compete at the best level,” he added. “Maybe we’ll have a horse for the (2024) Saudi Cup.”

The Making of a Winner: Carmel Road’s Ascent in Horse Racing

In the Los Alamitos Futurity, Carmel Road had held the lead until the field turned for home, then yielded to Practical Move to finish 3 ¾ lengths back. In his other three starts for Baffert, Carmel Road was third in his debut, drew clear to break his maiden by 8 3/4 lengths at Del Mar, and finished 13th in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland after an unlucky draw of post position 14.

He made his first start for his new connections in December at Riyadh, finishing second to Scotland Yard in an allowance, then turned the tables on that foe, edging clear through the stretch to take the 1600-meter King Faisal Cup on Jan. 13.

2024 Saudi Cup Contender Odds and Post Position: Carmel Road

Betting advice: While Emblem Road won the 2022 Saudi Cup – at astonishing odds of 113-1 – this longshot has little chance in a field of champions. Pass.

Post position: 14

Odds: 25-1

Jockey: Camilo Ospina

Trainer: Abdullah Albadah

Owner: KAS (King Abdullah bin A/Aziz Sons)

Age: 4

Career record: 7 2-2-1

Career earnings: $217,959

Last race: King Faisal Cup, Jan. 13 (1st)

Top Equibase speed figure: 92

Pedigree: Quality Road-Inspired, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Bay

Running style: On/close to the pace

Notes: The Kentucky-bred Carmel Road was a $650,000 yearling purchase by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A.  Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan … the colt’s last workout before he went overseas was a half-mile move in 47.80, handily, on March 26, 2023, at Santa Anita … Carmel Road was one of three horses purchased by KAS at last year’s Horses of Racing Age sale, the others being Commissioner Dan ($500,000) and Naval Aviator ($170,000). Lanz was the leading buyer at the sale, having spent $930,000 on the king’s behalf.

2024 Saudi Cup Odds and Contenders
PP Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
1 White Abarrio Irad Ortiz, Jr Rick Dutrow, Jr. C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable, LLC 3-1
2 Isolate Joel Rosario Doug Watson RRR Racing 15-1
3 Lemon Pop Ryusei Sakai Hiroyasu Tanaka Godolphin 15-1
4 Senor Buscador Junior Alvarado Todd Fincher Joe R. Peacock, Jr 10-1
5 Saudi Crown Florent Geroux Brad Cox SFMQ Stables 8-1
6 Crown Pride Joao Moreira Koichi Shintani Teruya Yoshida 20-1
7 National Treasure Flavien Prat Bob Baffert F Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Masterson, Robert E., Stonestreet Stables LLC, Schoenfarber, Jay A., Waves Edge Capital LLC and Donovan, Catherine 9-2
8 Hoist the Gold John Velazquez Dallas Stewart Dream Team One Racing Stable 30-1
9 Defunded Luis Saez Abdulaziz K Mishref Pegram, Michael E., Watson, Karl and Weitman, Paul 25-1
10 Power in Numbers Adel Alfouraidi Ahmed Mohamoud Klaravich Stables, Inc. 30-1
11 Ushba Tesoro Yuga Kawada Noboru Takagi Ryotokuji Kenji Holdings Co. Ltd. 10-1
12 Meisho Hario Suguru Hamanaka Inao Okada Yoshio Matsumoto 20-1
13 Derma Sotogake Christophe Lemaire Hidetaka Otonashi Hiroyuki Asanuma 6-1
14 Carmel Road Camillo Ospina Abdullah Albadah SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Masterson, Robert E., Stonestreet Stables LLC, Schoenfarber, Jay A., Waves Edge Capital LLC and Donovan, Catherinetd> 25-1
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