Saudi Cup Odds, Contenders, and Post Positions
By Jenny Kellner
Juddmonte’s homebred son of Tapit will be making his 4-year-old debut in the Saudi Cup, albeit with a new jockey in Jose Lezcano, with regular rider Jose Ortiz having fractured his right wrist in a post parade mishap on Feb. 22.
Unraced since placing third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in his first foray against older horses last fall at Belmont Park, Tacitus returned to training at Payson Park in Florida on New Year’s Eve with the first of a trio of easy half-mile outings. He then progressed through a series of weekly five-furlong works for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, including a 1:02.80 move from the gate on Feb. 10. Most recently he zipped three furlongs in a bullet 35.20 seconds on Feb. 17, fastest of 13 at the distance.
While Tacitus’s sophomore season was lucrative – he bankrolled some $1.6 million – it also was a trifle frustrating. He was no worse than third in seven starts, all in graded stakes, with victories in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack. Moved up to third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Tacitus then was second as the betting favorite in three of the top races for 3-year-olds in New York: the Belmont Stakes (G1), the Jim Dandy (G2) and the Travers (G1), in which the addition of blinkers may have worked a little too well in sharpening his speed.
The gray colt arrived at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Feb. 19 with 11 other American Saudi Cup Day contenders, and was safely “tucked away” in his stall, according to assistant trainer Riley Mott.
“He settled in immediately,’’ Mott said. “He’s very professional in that regard. His appetite has been good, his temperature has been good. Legs are good. He seems to get over the (dirt) track very well. When the horse gets over it, he doesn’t seem to be spinning his wheels or struggling. It seems like a good surface as far as I can tell.”
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Owner: Juddmonte Farms
Post position: No. 2
Career record: 9-3-3-2
Career earnings: $1,677,600
Pedigree: Tapit-Close Hatches, by First Defence
Running style: Closer
”Well-bred teaser second three times, third twice in last five; must make serious forward move.” – Ed McNamara
“Has not won since Wood Memorial last April, and hasn’t run since third in Jockey Club Gold Cup in September. Has hit the board in eight of nine career starts.” – Noel Michaels
Notes: Tacitus will be running off a five-month layoff but his connections are hoping his near track-record performance in the Tampa Bay Derby (1:41.90) off a four-month layoff bodes well for his chances … The muscular gray colt has but two starts at nine furlongs on his resume, winning the Wood Memorial (1:51.23) and coming in second, beaten three-quarters of a length by Tax, in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga Race Course after stumbling badly at the start … Tacitus is the first foal out of the Mott-trained, Juddmonte-owned Close Hatches, winner of the 2014 Eclipse Award as champion older mare … Lezcano won the 2013 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) aboard Ron the Greek for Mott, and also was aboard the horse at King Abdulaziz Racecourse when Juddmonte sent him overseas.