Leading Grade 1-winning Kentucky-breds Taiba, Emblem Road, Country Grammer, and Café Pharoah headline the $20,000,0000 Saudi Cup (G1) at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Feb. 25.  A total of 13 horses from around the world will decide the 1,800m (1.125 miles) event.

The early favorite for the Saudi Cup is Zedan Racing Stables’ Taiba, winner of the Malibu S. (G1) at Santa Anita in December in his most recent outing. The son of Gun Runner is trained by Bob Baffert, and last year annexed the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and finished third behind subsequent Horse of the Year Flightline in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland. Bred by Bruce Ryan, Taiba, a $1.7 million acquisition at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale, has banked more than $1.9 million and will be ridden by his regular jockey Mike Smith.

Emblem Road is back to defend his Saudi Cup crown for owner HRH Prince Saud bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and trainer M. Almulawah after upsetting the field in last year’s renewal. The son of Quality Road prepped for his defense with an allowance victory over the track in January. Bred in the Bluegrass by Brushy Hill LLC, Emblem Road, an earner of more than $10,000,000 following his lucrative score in last year’s race, was a $230,000 Keeneland September Sale graduate in 2019 and sold again the following year at two for $80,000 at the OBS Spring Sale.

Country Grammer, second to Emblem Road in last year’s Saudi Cup, is back in an attempt to avenge the defeat. Owned by Commonwealth Thoroughbreds, WinStar Farm, and Zedan Racing Stables, and conditioned by Baffert, Country Grammer went on to win the Dubai World Cup (G1) last season and captured the San Antonio S. (G2) at Santa Anita to close out his 2022 campaign. Winner of the 2021 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), Country Grammer has earned more than $11 million, and the son of Tonalist was bred in Kentucky by Scott and Debbie Pierce. WinStar Farm acquired Country Grammer for $110,000 at the 2021 Keeneland Horses of All Ages Sale.

Multiple Grade 1 winner Café Pharoah, owned by Koichi Nishikawa and trained by Toru Kurita, is a two-time winner of the February S. (G1) in Japan. Bred in Kentucky but based and trained in Japan, Cafe Pharoah has won seven of 13 lifetime starts, banking more than $3 million. Bred by Paul Pompa, the son of American Pharoah was purchased by Narvick International, agent, for $475,000 at the 2019 OBS March Sale.

Post time for the Saudi Cup is at 12:35 p.m. EST.