American horse Maximum Security on Saturday won the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s richest race, in a stunning comeback after being disqualified from the top spot in last year’s Kentucky Derby.
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“This is amazing, to win the race, to be here, to travel from far away and to have a victory for United States… This is something I don’t have words for,” winning jockey Luis Saez was quoted as saying by the organisers.
“This is the true Kentucky Derby winner. I’m so glad to be on the horse. This is a big deal.”
“That horse has got a lot of heart, he is some horse, he is amazing,” said trainer Jason Servis. “It’s got to be some vindication.”
Britain’s Benbatl finished third.
The Saudi Cup, which attracted thousands of spectators, included another seven races on dirt and turf with prizes worth $9.2 million up for grabs.
It is the latest international sports extravaganza designed to boost the Gulf nation’s battered global image.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has in recent years invested heavily in sporting events, in a soft power push designed to project a more moderate image and jettison a reputation for rights abuses.
The kingdom also hosted the Dakar Rally, one of motor racing’s most gruelling events, earlier this year as well as the Italian and Spanish Super Cup finals last year — with the added attraction of football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
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