Maximum Security ‘doubtful’ for Dubai after Saudi Cup triumph

Horse Racing Maximum Security Saudi Cup
Maximum Security (Luiz Saez) holds off Midnight Bisou to claim to $20m Saudi Cup.
Photo: Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice

By Nicholas Godfrey

Saudi Arabia: Maximum Security, a gutsy winner of the richest race the sport has ever seen in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, is unlikely to run in the Dubai World Cup.

In the aftermath of the four-year-old’s thrilling victory under Luis Saez in the inaugural edition of the $20 million Saudi Cup in Riyadh, trainer Jason Servis had been reluctant to confirm that Meydan was also likely to feature on a lucrative shopping Middle East list.

Speaking on Sunday morning after the dust had settled on a hard-fought historic victory, Servis all but ruled out the prospect in an interview with leading broadcaster Nick Luck on Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme.

“I’m feeling he may need some more time,” said Servis, who added that the horse appeared “a little tired” after such a strenuous effort, saying he had lost weight and left some feed.

With Dubai in mind, he explained: “I may not get his ‘A’ race. Nothing has been finalised but right now it’s doubtful we’ll make Dubai.

“I don’t think it’s fair to Max to wheel him back in the 28 days after the way he ran, and then he runs fifth,” Servis added on Luck On Sunday. “Then you’re like, ‘What was I thinking about?’ 

Horse Racing Maximum Security
Luis Saez acknowledges the crowd after Maximum Security wins the Saudi Cup in Riyadh.
Photo: Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Neville Hopwood

“Like I said, nothing has been engraved in stone yet. But I think, in fairness to him, he needs ample time where I can lead him over, and I feel good about that he’s 100% and gives it his all.”

As brilliant as he obviously is, Maximum Security’s Saudi Cup victory owed as much to toughness as talent as he wore down front-runner Mucho Gusto before holding the late-running champion filly Midnight Bisou to win the world’s richest race by three-quarters of a length. 

Old pals’ act: From Lingfield to Riyadh with Allan Smith and Frankie Dettori

After a deal with the Coolmore team to buy into a partnership with original owners Gary and Mary West, the horse who was so controversially disqualified after passing the post first in last year’s Kentucky Derby was carrying the Michael Tabor silks for the first time. He will stay in training for at least his four-year-old campaign before any decision on his future as part of Coolmore’s US stud operation is made.

Horse Racing Jason Servis Saudi Cup trainer
All Smiles: Jason Servis with the Saudi Cup trophy at the post-race press conference.
Photo: Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia. Mahmoud Khaled

Saudi Cup second Midnight Bisou is also unlikely to run in the $12m Dubai World Cup at Meydan on March 28.

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In a controversial post script to the Saudi Cup, the runner-up’s jockey Mike Smith was handed nine days’ suspension for misuse of the whip (eight days for hitting Midnight Biosu 14 times, thereby exceeding the ten-strike limit, and another one for striking her with no regard for her stride pattern). In addition, the rider known as ‘Big Money Mike’ was hit in the wallet, forfeiting 60% of his share of $3.5m prize-money – about $210,000.

Saudi Cup: Mike Smith slams ‘absurd’ whip penalty and considers appeal

Smith won the ground-breaking male v female International Jockey Challenge on Friday’s card – but he left Saudi Arabia with 11 days’ suspension altogether, having also been banned for two days for failing to weigh in after coming fifth in another race on the Saturday card.

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