In the days leading up to the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 26, usracing.com is publishing profiles of the starters in the world’s richest horse race. Profiles will be updated with odds, post positions and jockeys several days before the race (jockeys listed from last race).
By Jenny Kellner
2022 Saudi Cup Profile: Country Grammer
Trainer Bob Baffert was set to have graded stakes winner Country Grammer make his 2022 debut in the 1 ⅛-mile San Pasqual (G2) on Feb. 5 at Santa Anita Park. That is, until he got wind that an invitation to the world’s richest horse race was about to be extended to the son of Tonalist, now owned by WinStar Farm in partnership with Zedan Racing.
Country Grammer, who has not raced since winning the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) last May, will now make his comeback at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh. It will mark the horse’s ninth career start, having raced twice in New York as a 2-year-old and winning once and four times as a sophomore, winning the Peter Pan (G3) and finishing third in an allowance at Saratoga Race Course before his connections called it a year after a fifth-place finish in the Travers (G1).
Purchased for $110,000 at owner Paul Pompa’s dispersal sale by WinStar in January at Keeneland, Country Grammer was sent to Baffert’s barn in California, where he finished second in the Californian (G2) in April and then turning in a gritty performance to win the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1). He subsequently spent some time with trainer Todd Pletcher before returning to California.
Baffert initially had the San Pasqual penciled in as the opening event on Country Grammer’s 2022 dance card but took a chance that an invitation would be coming from Saudi officials.
“I rolled the dice, that’s why I didn’t run him (in the San Pasqual),” Baffert said, adding he learned of the invite on Sunday.
Country Grammer has been working steadily for his 5-year-old bow, most recently going a handy 6 furlongs in 1:12.20 on Feb. 12. It was the seventh published workout of the year and 11th since returning to training.
Betting advice: It is without question a stretch to return from a 10-month layoff and dive into a field of international Grade 1 winners. You would get a good price on him, but I’d prefer to use him underneath, and sparingly.
Post position: 1
Odds: 12-1 (BUSR.com odds)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: WinsStar Farm
Career record: 8-3-1-1
Career earnings: $377,320
Top Equibase speed figure: 110
Pedigree: Tonalist-Arabian Song, by Forestry
Running style: Of the pace
Notes: Won graded stakes on East and West Coast … In winning the Peter Pan (G2) for trainer Chad Brown, he defeated future Dubai World winner Mystic Guide … Originally sold for $60,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, he fetched $450,000 at the OBS April sale for 2-year-olds, and was subsequently bought for $110,000 as part of the late Paul Pompa’s dispersal … Country Grammer’s second dam (Prima Centauri) was a half-sister to Etoile Montante, a graded stakes winner on both side of the Atlantic. Her progeny included multiple graded stakes winner Starformer, who won the Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3) and the Long Island Handicap (G3).
Jenny Kellner is an award-winning journalist and proud owner of Toby, an 11-year-old prize-winning palomino quarter horse. Jenny was among the first female sports columnists in the United States, and has worked for the New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and Newsday. Jenny also was a senior media director at the New York Racing Association, and has been an elementary school and middle-school teacher in New York, and currently in Colorado.