In the days leading up to the $20 million Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 20, usracing.com will profile the contenders in the world’s richest horse race. The profiles will be updated with odds, post positions and jockeys following the post-position draw on Wednesday [Feb. 17].
By Margaret Ransom
After his impressive 2 ¾-length victory in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) last month, which followed an eye-popping score in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland in November, this Brad Cox-trained son of Paynter certainly stamped himself one of the best older horses in training.
The gray 5-year-old has won all four starts in Cox’s care since an Oaklawn Park allowance win a year ago. Knicks Go, who was bred in Maryland by Angie Moore, was purchased by the Korean Racing Authority for $87,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2017 and has now amassed an impressive bankroll of $3,088,995.
Previously trained by Ben Colebrook, Knicks Go won the 2018 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland as a juvenile and then was second in BC Juvenile (G1). He was considered a top Kentucky Derby candidate but was unable to return to his 2-year-old form and didn’t make the gate for the Run for the Roses. He had one more start for Colebrook – a 10th-place finish in the Commonwealth Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs in 2019 — before being moved to Cox, where he only started three times due to an ankle injury suffered early in the year.
“Everything is going in the right direction. He’s carrying his weight well and I’m happy with the way he’s moving,” Cox said. “The great horses like him are what you wake up for every morning. He’s a fantastic horse and hopefully an international horse after February 20.”
Knicks Go arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday [Feb. 10] with the rest of the American contingent and will get his toes into the King Abdulaziz Racetrack surface this weekend. Trainer Brad Cox, who will not be at the race, told TVG on Monday [Feb. 15] that Knicks Go went out for a breeze in the morning with the trainer’s assistant Dustin Dugas, and “he was excited about how he worked.’’
“It’s the first time we’ve run a horse on the other side of the world so there’s always a little bit of a concern, but I don’t really feel it will be with him,’’ Cox said recently. “He’s got a great mind on him and he ships well. He obviously shipped to Gulfstream (for the Pegasus) in good order and he doesn’t get worked up – he knows when to shut it off and when to turn it on.”
2021 Saudi Cup Contender: Knicks Go
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Owner: Korea Racing Authority
Age: 5 (horse)
Career record: 18-6-3-1
Career earnings: $3,088,995
Top Equibase speed figure: 121
Pedigree: Paynter-Kosmo’s Buddy, by Outflanker
Running style: Frontrunner
Notes: Cox isn’t traveling to Saudi Arabia, and instead will be at Oaklawn Park over the weekend to watch two of his champions run — Essential Quality in the Southwest Stakes (G3) and Monomoy Girl in the Bayakoa (G3) … Had his final pre-shipping workout at his winter base of Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Feb. 6, logging 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 … He got his name not from the NBA’s New York Knicks, but rather a Korean breeding system. The “K” is for Korea and the “nicks” is from a bloodstock term referencing the successful breeding of certain pedigree lines that produce successful offspring. And the “Go” refers to the frontrunning style of his sire … He’s only made one start at this distance in his career, winning the Pegasus World Cup.