(Reuters) – Japanese rider Yutaka Yoshida rode Panthalassa to victory in the Saudi Cup on Saturday, edging out Frankie Dettori and Country Grammar in the world’s richest race.
Panthalassa, at 16-1, shot out of the gate at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, putting the field under pressure and holding off a late rally from Country Grammar to take the $20-million prize.
“It is unbelievable. I have no words. I am very, very happy. He was in stall one, so I said it was okay to go to the front,” Yoshida said after the Yoshito Yahagi-trained Panthalassa sealed the win.
“This win is higher than any other I have had –- of course it is the best feeling, because the prize money is the best, too.
“I really can’t believe it at the moment. It does not feel real but I’d like to say thanks to my staff and the horse. Winning this is not easy.”
Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer was also narrowly beaten in Saudi Arabia last year but went on to win at the Dubai World Cup.
“He ran a super race, I was outpaced all the way, I travelled to stay and thought I would be sixth really, then they all died and bless him, he’s got so much heart,” Dettori said.
“I stayed on well, but his game is a mile-and-a-quarter and we go back to Dubai. I was way back because I couldn’t lay up. I pushed him all the way. It was a super run.”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)