Saudi Cup Post Positions, Contenders and Odds
By Richard Rosenblatt
After starting his racing career with six consecutive losses at six different racetracks in Great Britain, North America finally found the winner’s circle on dirt at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
Seven wins in 13 starts later over the same track, the 8-year-old gelding has his connections hoping for a huge score on dirt at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in Saturday’s $20 million Saudi Cup.
Trained by Dubai-based Satish Seemar, North America was part of a thrilling three-horse photo finish in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2) on Jan. 9. Kimbear was declared the winner, Secret Ambition second and North America third.
It was North America’s first start in 10 months, when he was sent off as the 3-1 favorite in the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) and finished a disappointing seventh after tiring in the stretch. A year earlier, North America finished 10th in the World Cup, and the year before that he ran 10th in the Godolphin Mile (G2).
While most of his seven victories did not occur against the kind of competition the son of Dubawi faced in the World Cups (although he did beat Thunder Snow in 2018 in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge), North America is back again to take on some of the world’s top horses going 1 1/8 miles.
There is some optimism, perhaps, if North America doesn’t have any foot issues like he did in his last two starts.
“He ran a super race, but unfortunately he did the same thing he did in the (Dubai) World Cup, where he ripped a patch of his foot and it’s bleeding pretty badly,’’ regular rider Richard Mullen said after the close call in January. “I thought he got tired, but it was his foot and it was sore. That’s the down side to him; he has bad feet. Hopefully we can patch him up and come back with him.”
Trainer: Satish Seemar
Jockey: Richard Mullen
Owner: Ramzan Kadyrov
Post position: No. 4
Career record: 19-7-3-3
Career earnings: $1,082,017
Pedigree: Dubawi (IRE)-Northern Mishief, by Yankee Victor
Running style: Front-runner
“8-year-old gelding has seven dirt wins, four in stakes; running 7th, 10th in Dubai World Cup a red flag.’’ – Ed McNamara
“Veteran of multiple Maktoum Challenge races in Dubai and has won his share, but loses big when bumped up in class against this kind of competition.” – Noel Michaels
Notes: Sameer says, “He’s been a great horse for us at Zabeel and he’s won all three legs of the Maktoum Challenge at Meydan, so we are taking our best horse to Saudi Arabia. It’s very special for us.’’ … depending on the outcome, North America could run next in either the Dubai World Cup for a third time or the Godolphin Mile for a second time next month … In his first six races, North America was 0-for-5 on grass, and 0-1 on a synthetic surface … At Meydan, his record is 13-7-1-2; overall it’s 19-7-3-3 … Sameer is a world-renowned trainer who helped create Zabeel Racing Stables for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the early 1990s … in 1993, Sameer became the first UAE-based trainer to win a race in Europe (Dayflower in the Middleton Stakes at York).