Japanese horse wins world’s richest race as Baffert’s entry finishes second

Japan has been steadily rising as a drive in worldwide horse racing and Saturday added one other main achievement to its file by profitable the $20 million Saudi Cupthe richest horse race on this planet.

Panthalassa took the lead out of the gate and held off a livid Nation Grammer closing rally to win by three quarters of a size.

Nation Grammer, educated by Bob Baffert and ridden by Frankie Dettori, would have taken Panthalassa had the 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) race at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, been only a few strides longer .

“I all the time fear that the stretch is just too lengthy, however (Saturday) it was too quick,” Baffert mentioned from his residence in La Cañada Flintridge.

It was the third consecutive 12 months that Baffert’s entry completed second within the race. Nation Grammer was handed simply in need of the wire final 12 months and Charlatan took second in 2021.

“I assumed this was going to be our 12 months with two good horses,” mentioned Baffert. “However so long as they run it yearly, we’ll hold making an attempt.”

Baffert’s different entry, Taiba, completed a disappointing eighth and was no risk to the leaders.

Jockey “Mike (Smith) mentioned he by no means received into the rhythm and he was fighting the monitor,” mentioned Baffert. “He simply didn’t deliver his A recreation.”

Panthalassa, educated by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden by Yutaka Yoshida, paid $34.10 to win in worldwide pari-mutuel swimming pools. Playing shouldn’t be allowed in Saudi Arabia.

The Japanese affect didn’t cease at Panthalassa, as Japan-based Café Pharoah, Geoglyph and Crown Pleasure completed third by fifth. Japan has put extra assets into its breeding and racing packages, profitable two races on the Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar in 2021 – a primary after going 0 for 13 on the occasion. Final 12 months they solely despatched one horse to the Breeders’ Cup in Keeneland.

Baffert had a second-place end in one other race as Havnameltdown entered an extended and spirited duel with Saudi Commissioner King, who moved to the entrance by the wire to win by a head within the Saudi Derby.

Baffert plans to ship Nation Grammer to the $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 25, a 1 1/4 mile race he gained final 12 months. He will even ship Hopkins to run within the Al Quoz Dash and Worcester within the UAE Derby on the identical day. Taiba and Havnameltdown return to Santa Anita.

Amr Zedan is the proprietor of Taiba and co-owner of Nation Grammer, an absolute discount when snapped up by WinStar for $110,000 in a scattered sale. Taiba, a son of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Gun Runner, was a $1.7 million buy.