Recently crowned champion sprinter Elite Power (Curlin) will launch his 5-year-old campaign in the $1.5-million G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint on the Saudi Cup undercard Feb. 25.
The Juddmonte colorbearer capped a five-race winning streak with a powerful, come-from-behind victory in the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland last out Nov. 5. Elite Power, a $900,000 Keeneland September graduate, has posted five workouts for Hall of Famer Bill Mott since the beginning of the new year at Payson Park, including a five-furlong breeze in 1:02.80 (4/8) Feb. 2.
“He had his program tailored out pretty much immediately after the Breeders’ Cup that we would go to the Saudi Cup Sprint,” Juddmonte USA General Manager Garrett O’Rourke said.
“Bill [Mott] gave him a little break and has him back in full work now and everything is–touch wood–on target. The horse is doing well and looking good. He seems in great form.”
Looking further ahead this season, O’Rourke added, “I want to clarify it with [Juddmonte] first, but, at the moment, the plan is for him to come back [to the U.S. afterwards] and look to an end-of-the-season campaign. Give him a little break, target some of the summer races and work on up to Breeders’ Cup.”
Juddmonte, founded by the late Saudi Prince Khalid bin Abdullah in 1980, was represented in all three prior runnings of the card’s main event with MGSW & MGISP Tacitus (Tapit) (fifth, 2020; and seventh, 2021) and promoted GI Kentucky Derby winner Mandaloun (Into Mischief) (ninth, 2022).
“It’s building into a magnificent event and slotting right into the international racing schedule,” O’Rourke said. “By the time you finish with the Breeders’ Cup, you’re thinking about the Saudi Cup. It’s nice to be able to share our best horses and be able to take on the elite of the world at international events like this. The Saudi Cup is firmly established now as that type of an event.”
Juddmonte homebred Laurel River (Into Mischief), meanwhile, scratched by regulatory veterinarians the day before last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, has been given the green light to resume training with Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. The 5-year-old was last seen recording a career high in Del Mar’s GII Pat O’Brien S. last summer.
“We gave him 60 days of doing nothing and another 60 days of just bringing him back slowly and he’s here on the farm now and galloping every day,” O’Rourke said. “We checked him out then, we’ve checked him out again now and everything checks out perfectly fine. He’s going back to Bob Baffert in the next week. We always do the right thing by our horses and I’m very confident that the horse is absolutely 100 percent. He’s a very capable and talented horse.”
He concluded, “The value of having scrutiny of horses going into big events has been a huge boost to the public’s confidence that we’re doing all the right things. We will always stand by and respect the decisions that the professionals make.”