Bet Now

Saudi Cup Best Bet: Let’s Go with Rick Dutrow and White Abarrio

He served his time, and trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. immediately showed he hadn’t lost his touch.

After sitting out a 10-year suspension for a string of violations, Dutrow won last May at Belmont Park with his first starter since 2013. Three months later, his striking gray colt White Abarrio dominated the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga, leaving eventual Horse of the Year Cody’s Wish 10 lengths behind. Three months after that, White Abarrio took the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

White Abarrio is trainer Rick Dutrow’s first Grade 1 winner off a ten-year suspension

The 5-year-old son of Race Day will be favored Saturday in the world’s richest race, the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1), at King Abdulaziz Racecourse. Dutrow couldn’t be more confident, and he should be. Not only is his star in top form, but he drew the rail in the field of 14, the ideal post for a stalker in a field loaded with early speed.

“He had the two-hole (in the Classic), so this can’t be a problem,” Dutrow said at Wednesday’s draw. “We’ve got the best rider, one of the best horses. It’ll be fun.”

White Abarrio’s tactical speed should allow superstar jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. to work out a ground-saving trip. He’ll be within striking distance of frontrunners National Treasure, Saudi Crown, Lemon Pop, Hoist the Gold and Crown Pride before moving at the top of the stretch.

White Abarrio’s Global Gallop: Overcoming Time Zone Hurdles for the Saudi Cup

Dutrow’s main concern is how White Abarrio will respond to traveling through eight time zones from the East Coast to the Middle East. Sometimes a horse looks and acts great after a long flight only to hit a jet-lag wall in the race. With fragile thoroughbreds, you can never be sure.

“The only thing he needs to nail is to get over the trip the right way,” Dutrow said. “He couldn’t be doing any better. All the work has been done with him.”

Contrarians will argue correctly that the Saudi Cup field is significantly stronger than the Classic’s was. Preakness (G1) hero National Treasure and Japanese stars Lemon Pop, Ushba Tesoro and Derma Sotogake are all multiple winners at the Grade 1 and Group 1 level. If White Abarrio isn’t himself, any of them could win.

Ushba Tesoro has won seven of his last eight, with the only loss a troubled fifth in the Classic. Derma Sotogake ran a strong second in the Classic, but he drew post 13 of 14 after suffering an eye injury on the flight from Japan. There are stamina concerns about Lemon Pop, the 2023 Japan dirt champion.

If White Abarrio gets a smooth trip from five-time Eclipse Award winner Ortiz, he could be gone at the eighth pole.

“He’s in a zone, just like he was before the Breeders’ Cup. If he runs his race, he’s going to be tough to beat,” Dutrow said. “I’d rather win this race than any other race in the world.”

The picks: 1 White Abarrio 2 Ushba Tesoro 3 Derma Sotogake


Proudly featured on: