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 Ed McNamara
He’s earned more than $3.2 million but may have burned that much in win bets. He’s never finished worse than fifth while losing 10 of his last 11 races. He hasn’t been worse than fourth in a Grade 1 but is 0-for-7 at that level. He has a championship pedigree without ever coming close to winning one.
So often he appeared ready to make the big breakthrough, but it always waits until next time for the best-looking underachiever you’ll ever see. Once again here comes that poor little rich horse, Tacitus.
In October 2019, Juddmonte Farms racing manager Garrett O’Rourke agreed that calling his regally bred 3-year-old a disappointment was “the understatement of the year.”
Last year wasn’t any better, as Tacitus went 1-for-6 and lost five straight times as the favorite. The bettors finally wised up and sent him off at 21-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, when he ran a distant fourth. The worst finish of his career (fifth) was in last year’s Saudi Cup. He’s back for another try at 1 1/8 miles, and with a new rider, Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
“Tacitus ran a good race last year, and hopefully we can get a better position in the first part of the race,” Velazquez said. “Knicks Go and Charlatan look really tough and like to go forward. Hopefully, they go too fast and we can sit not too far back before coming down the lane.”
Ladbrokes’ early line has Tacitus at 10-1. If you [like me] have lost many times on him, maybe bet a few bucks defensively just in case everything finally falls into place. Just don’t count on it.
Assistant trainer Riley Mott is deputizing for his father, Bill, at the Saudi Cup. “He’s been a little frustrating,” Riley Mott said. “He always flirts with winning a top Grade 1. We think he is capable of it.”
That’s the story of Tacitus’ life.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: John Velazquez
Owner: Juddmonte Farms
Career record: 15-4-4-3
Career earnings: $3,247,500
Top Equibase speed figure: 111
Pedigree: Tapit-Close Hatches, by First Defence
Running style: Midpack rallier
Notes: Tacitus was bred and owned by the master of Juddmonte Farms, the fabulously successful Prince Khalid Abdullah, who died last month at 83 … “Any time we lead a horse over there in Juddmonte’s silks it is very special,” Riley Mott said. “Last year when we brought Tacitus, he had a nice little local following due to the fact that he was a Juddmonte horse. He had a lot of fans there on race day.” … Worked 5 furlongs in 1:03.60 on Feb. 6 at Payson Park Training Center in Florida.
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.