June 24, 2024

Senor Buscador swoops late, sets new stakes record in Saudi Cup

Senor Buscador wins the Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz racecourse (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

As a deep-closing, one-turn specialist, Joe Peacock Jr.’s homebred Senor Buscador has been frustrated time and again in the most prestigious races stateside. But Saturday’s $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) proved to be exactly the right stage for the Todd Fincher veteran, who swooped to edge Japan’s Ushba Tesoro and front-running Saudi Crown in a career-defining performance at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

Although Senor Buscador figured to get the hot pace scenario he craves, there remained the issue of having to turn the tables on a series of accomplished rivals, led by 6-5 favorite White Abarrio. Hence he went off at a generous 13-1. The change in conditions was indeed the key to his reversing the form of such marquee events as the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and the Pegasus World Cup (G1).  

Saudi Crown used his exceptional speed to take the early lead from a few other potential pace factors. White Abarrio, the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, was nestled just behind the front rank, apparently in a good spot from his rail draw. But the favorite came up empty when angled out on the turn.

National Treasure, who had withstood Senor Buscador’s late charge in the Pegasus last out, attended Saudi Crown to the outside. With clear aim turning for home, National Treasure was in the right spot to challenge, but he could not peg back Saudi Crown.

For nearly the entire length of the stretch, Saudi Crown retained control. The final 50 meters, though, turned out to be the toughest, as both Ushba Tesoro and Senor Buscador came motoring from far out of it to produce a frenetic finish.

Under an exquisitely-timed ride by Junior Alvarado, Senor Buscador thrust his head in front of Ushba Tesoro in a stakes-record 1:49.50. The son of Mineshaft shaved .09 off the former mark established in 2021, when Mishriff wore down Charlatan.

That time was teed up by Saudi Crown, who suffered the heartbreak of having the victory slip through his grasp in the shadow of the post. National Treasure was relegated to fourth. Japan’s Derma Sotogake boxed on in a one-paced fifth, followed by Isolate, Defunded, Scotland Yard, Crown Pride, White Abarrio, Japanese champion dirt horse Lemon Pop, Power in Numbers, and the eased Hoist the Gold. Meisho Hario was scratched a couple of days ago, allowing also-eligible Scotland Yard to take his chance.

Senor Buscador rewarded his loyalists with a $28.80 win mutuel. Earning $10 million for his Group 1 breakthrough, the six-year-old boosted his bankroll to $11,496,427 from an 18-7-2-2 line.

Briefly on the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, Senor Buscador was a smashing, last-to-first winner of the Remington Springboard Mile as a juvenile. But he was sidelined following a fifth in the Risen Star (G2) to Mandaloun, Proxy, and Midnight Bourbon. Mandaloun – eventually the promoted Derby winner – and Midnight Bourbon would contest the 2022 Saudi Cup, with Mandaloun flopping as the favorite and Midnight Bourbon placing third.

Senor Buscador launched his comeback in the summer of his four-year-old season, and his 2022 highlight was a victory in the Ack Ack H. (G3) around a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs. In a sustained five-year-old campaign in 2023, Senor Buscador added the Curribot H. at Sunland Park and the San Diego H. (G2) at Del Mar to his ledger while placing third in the Awesome Again (G1), fourth in the Pacific Classic (G1) and Oaklawn H. (G2), fifth in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), and seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Teaming up with Alvarado for the first time in the Dec. 2 Cigar Mile (G2), Senor Buscador closed for second to Hoist the Gold on a speed-favoring surface at Aqueduct. Alvarado galvanized him late at Gulfstream Park in the Pegasus, coming up just shy of National Treasure.

Senor Buscador was bred in Kentucky, but his dam is New Mexico-bred star Rose’s Desert, by the Fappiano stallion Desert God. Rose’s Desert produced three other stakes winners better known for their exploits in the Southwest – 2018 Sunland Park Derby (G3) victor Runaway Ghost, Sheriff Brown, and Our Iris Rose – all for the same Peacock/Fincher team.

Considering how Senor Buscador thrived in Riyadh, his connections might view Saudi Arabia as another “Land of Enchantment.”