When two-time grade I winner Premium Tap races in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March, he could be carrying the flag of Saudi Arabia rather than the Stars and Stripes.
Trainer John Kimmel confirmed on Friday that discussion in the Middle East that the soon to be 5-year-old son of Pleasant Tap
is in the process of being sold to Saudi interests is "sound conjecture."
"They're very sensitive; they asked me not to say anything so I can't really disclose any details to you," Kimmel said from Payson Park training center in Florida, where Premium Tap resumed training about two weeks ago following two weeks of walking after his victory in the Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
A sale would not be bittersweet for Kimmel as he said that the prospective buyer or buyers, who have not been identified to him, "will be leaving the horse with me." Additionally, "we would have plans to bring him back to the States after the World Cup."
Currently owned by George Kline, Peter Alevizos and David Whelihan, Premium Tap won the Clark after finishing a good third behind Invasor and Bernardini
in the Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill. In early September, he captured the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course. Kimmel said the colt is "doing terrific" at Payson.
"He just continues to impress me," he added. A tentative early target for Premium Tap could be the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 3, which traditionally has been a key American prep for the Dubai World Cup. Although Shadwell Stable's potential Horse of the Year Invasor also is being aimed at the World Cup, Kimmel has indicated he is not overly concerned about competing against that colt in Dubai, where drug rules are more restrictive.
"When you look on the form and see that the only race that Invasor's ever lost was in Dubai (the grade II UAE Derby) where he couldn't run on Lasix, you wonder if maybe he might not be that invincible there," Kimmel said immediately after the Clark. "I know (Premium Tap) doesn't need Lasix. He's been very clean. He's never been a bleeder and that's a nice thing to know. Some horses go over there and you know they depend on that Lasix to keep from bleeding, but that's not the case with this horse."