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Saudi Cup 2024: See Friday updates from the connections

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Crown Pride

Crown Pride completed two laps cantering on the training track.

“He moved well and is ready to run,” Masafumi Matsuda, a stable representative, said.

Derma Sotogake

Derma Sotogake had a one-lap canter on the dirt track.

“The accident during the flight is the only concern but we did everything we could have done. He is in good form,” Hidetaka Otonashi, his trainer, said.

Hoist The Gold

Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Hoist the Gold returned again to the dirt track on Friday at 11 p.m. EST with an easy clockwise jog around the outer perimeter. The Dallas Stewart trainee was ridden by exercise rider Pedro Velez.

“He looks as healthy as he’s been to me,” Stewart said. “He’s eating well and travelled well. Just have to strategise with my jockey. Looking forward to it.”

Jockey John Velazquez takes the reins on the son of Mineshaft. ‘Johnny V’ has won more than 6,500 races, including 223 at the Grade 1 or Group 1 level, and is approaching $500 million in prize money.

Isolate

Isolate went out for an easy canter of about 1 1/4 miles at 12 a.m. EST on the dirt track in the hands of Oscar Chavez.

“He was a little on edge the last couple of days but was perfect today,” trainer Doug Watson said. “That eased my mind one day out from the race.”

Lemon Pop

The Godolphin-owned Japanese runner had a routine exercise on Friday. He jogged and hacked as a warm-up for a lap and did some circular flatwork beside the gate before he cantered, accelerating a little bit in the stretch.

“He looks great and feels wonderful. He sharpens up physically and mentally for the race, but he moved relaxed and comfortably when he cantered. I am happy with his preparation,” assistant trainer Toshihiko Hokari said.

“We are very proud to be here, running in the Saudi Cup,” Godolphin Japan president Harry Sweeney said.

“It’s an extremely competitive race. We have the best horses from the Middle East, the best horses from America and the best horses from Japan. We are anxious because of the quality of the field. The horse is in very good form, and our team is very happy with him. The draw (post no. 3) is not ideal unfortunately, and it is up to the jockey now.

“It is a really competitive race and we hope he runs well.”

Saudi Crown

The fine grey-roan colt’s coat was glowing in the early morning sunshine as he completed his preparations on the dirt track at 11 p.m. EST, at first accompanied by a pony and then looking happy to get on with matters alone for an easy canter.

“He was steady, went a mile and a half, he was on the bridle and not doing too much,” trainer Brad Cox’s son and assistant Blake said. “He’s shipped very well, hasn’t left an oat since he’s been here and we’re very, very happy with him.”

Saudi Crown, the lightly-raced Pennsylvania Derby winner, represents Saudi Arabia’s FMQ Stables. He has few miles on the clock, warming up with an effortless win in last month’s Louisiana Stakes (G3).

“With the connections, we’d kind of thought about this race I guess last summer probably and we wanted to give him once race after the Breeders’ Cup as a prep for it,” Blake Cox said. “He ran huge in New Orleans, he was on the lead, relaxed very well and it was a good effort.

“I think he’s got a lot stronger at four, he’s bigger and I think he’s more mature and that’s good because he’s going to need to jump forward to be able to compete with these guys.

“We’re going to break running and let Florent (Geroux, jockey) find his comfortable position wherever he wants to be and hopefully fire home.”

Scotland Yard

One of Saudi Arabia’s best-known horses was a late addition to the field on Saturday after the scratching of Meisho Hario and it could have hardly been timed better according to his delighted connections.

“We are very happy we have got into the race,” Renato Geiger, racing manager to owner Prince Saud bin Salman Abdulaziz, said.

“He was in full work as he had an invite for the Godolphin Mile at the Dubai World Cup meeting. He hasn’t been in form as good as he is currently for over a year. He really is very fit and healthy at the moment. I like the gate 12 for him so he can take his time with it looking like being a very fast pace.

“I honestly think he can run well even if it is a very good race. He will certainly do a lot better than last year when he finished last.”

Senor Buscador

Joe Peacock Jr’s homebred Senor Buscador left the quarantine barn and had a routine canter of about 1 1/4 miles around the dirt track just after 11 p.m. EST. Exercise rider Oscar Rojero was aboard the Todd Fincher-trained charge.

“He just did a regular routine gallop, but he had a lot of energy and was strong,” Fincher said. “He’s travelled quite a bit in his career, this is probably his 12th track, and takes to it well. He was a little jet-lagged when he arrived, but quickly bounced out of it.”

A late-running Grade 2 winner, the son of American superstar Mineshaft faces familiar company on Saturday.

His past four starts include a third in the Awesome Again (G1), one length behind runner-up Defunded; a fast-closing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind winner White Abarrio, runner-up Derma Sotogake and fifth-placed Ushba Tesoro and ahead of Saudi Crown; a flying-from-last second to Hoist the Gold in the Cigar Mile (G2); and a neck second to National Treasure in last month’s Pegasus World Cup (G1), arguably his career-best performance. All of those runners re-oppose.

“He finally got a good trip in the Pegasus and has had awful trips before and often on speed-biased tracks,” Fincher continued. “Those are tough to overcome and it’s all because he puts himself in a bad situation coming from way back anyway and having to weave around horses.

“I think he’ll run really well over this kind of track and I think the one turn helps him, especially with plenty of pace.

“If he gets a good trip, he can win this race. White Abarrio is the deserving favourite but if you look at the trip my horse got in the Breeders’ Cup, where he beat us five lengths, I know with a good trip, without a doubt, he’s as good as that horse.”

Ushba Tesoro

The Dubai World Cup champion jogged for three furlongs before cantering for about 1 1/4 miles on the dirt track under the assistant trainer Masakazu Fukami.

“After he breezed two days ago, he really focused on what he had to do. I think we had very good preparations ahead of the big event,” Fukami said.

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