Maximum Security is led into Aqueduct Racetrack's winner's circle by trainer Jason Servis (left) and co-owner Gary West after the Cigar Mile

Maximum Security is led into Aqueduct Racetrack's winner's circle by trainer Jason Servis (left) and co-owner Gary West after the Cigar Mile

Coglianese Photos/Viola Jasko

Maximum Security, American Horses Land in Saudi Arabia

Maximum Security and McKinzie are the projected Saudi Cup favorites.

A 12-horse contingent of American runners, including Maximum Security, McKinzie, Midnight Bisou, Mucho Gusto, and Tacitus, arrived in Saudi Arabia Feb. 19 in advance of the Feb. 29 Saudi Cup and its supporting races.

Photographs and video posted to social media showed the Americans settling into their new surroundings at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh as they prepare for lucrative stakes races, topped by the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world's richest race. They are expected to be joined in the coming days by other international horses.

Run around one turn at 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), the Saudi Cup is expected to draw a deep field, perhaps up to its maximum size of 14 horses. Other possible starters include Benbatl, Capezzano, Chrysoberyl, Gold Dream, Great Scot, Gronkowski, Magic Wand, Mjjack, and North America.

Gary and Mary West's Maximum Security, a last-out winner of the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) and last year's champion 3-year-old male in North America, is slightly favored with British bookmakers in early wagering, offered at odds between 2-1 and 5-2. Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) runner-up McKinzie, owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman and trained by Bob Baffert, is the second choice in the 2-1 to 3-1 range, followed by Godolphin's Benbatl between 4-1 and 6-1. The latter, a group 1 winner on turf, took the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 Sponsored By Mubadala (G2) at Meydan in Dubai in his dirt debut Feb. 6.

Saudi Cup representatives tweeted that Garrett Servis, an assistant to Maximum Security's trainer, Jason Servis, was pleased with how the colt had done on the flight to Saudi Arabia.

"He traveled well," Saudi Cup officials quoted Servis on Twitter. "I was in touch with the grooms on the flight so I had regular updates. He drank half his water and ate half his feed."

Riley Mott, an assistant to Bill Mott, the trainer of Tacitus, also said their colt settled in without incident.

6