October 28, 2021

Tacitus, Channel Maker blow out in company ahead of Saudi Cup Day

The gray Tacitus and stablemate Channel Maker work in tandem at King Abdulaziz Racetrack (Copyright Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Mahmoud Khaled)

Bill Mott stablemates Tacitus and Channel Maker helped each other prepare for their respective Saudi Cup Day targets by blowing out in company on Tuesday. Tacitus, bound for the $20 million Saudi Cup, and recently crowned turf champion Channel Maker, set for Saturday’s opener in the $1 million Neom Turf Cup, breezed three furlongs on the dirt at King Abdulaziz Racetrack.

Assistant Neil Poznansky, who was aboard Tacitus, gave the Juddmonte homebred a glowing review.

“I thought today’s breeze was quite exceptional,” Poznansky told the Saudi Cup notes team. “He continues to mature all the time and he is mentally more focused. He’s really coming into himself.”

Fifth in the inaugural Saudi Cup to compatriots Maximum Security and Midnight Bisou, Tacitus is coming off a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Multiple Grade 1 hero Channel Maker was most recently third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Umberto Gomez was astride for Tuesday’s move,

“I was really impressed with his work,” Poznansky said of Channel Maker, from his close-up perspective with Tacitus.

Leading Saudi Cup contenders Charlatan and Knicks Go had both turned in their final works Monday, and so had an easy day of walking Tuesday.

Last-out Malibu (G1) romper Charlatan is in the care of trainer Bob Baffert’s right-hand man, Jim Barnes.

“He’s doing very good,” Barnes said. “Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will jog on the training track. Thursday (it’s) back to the main track.”

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) star Knicks Go, who earned his Saudi spot via the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in his latest, is thriving according to Dustin Dugas, Brad Cox’s assistant trainer-cum-exercise rider.

“He came out of his breeze (half-mile in :48) very well today and just walked the shed row,” Dugas said. “He jogged up the road really well this morning and is acting like he should. The breeze seems to have woken him up since being here and his coat looks great.”

“We’ve had him a while now and he’s really always trained with a lot of energy and has been aggressive. I don’t know if I’m looking to see him progress as much as I am just looking for more of the same – he’s been that good.”

Sleepy Eyes Todd, fourth in the Pegasus, also had a quiet Tuesday after an energetic Monday.

“Yesterday the horse galloped one lap and then did a two-minute mile on the dirt track,” trainer Miguel Silva said. “He nearly did three miles yesterday on the track. He was on his own and it was Jose, my assistant, who rode him. Today he took the day off. He is in good form, he ate all of his dinner and everything is OK right now.”

Likewise trainer Steve Asmussen’s duo of Max Player (Saudi Cup) and Cowan (Saudi Derby) walked Tuesday. Asmussen, reporting from the U.S., expressed his satisfaction with how both of his hopefuls are coming up to Saturday, but added the remaining point on his mind:

“Anxiously awaiting the (Wednesday) post position draw.”

Cowan is expected to face two rising Godolphin stars in the Saudi Derby, Rebel’s Romance and the filly Soft Whisper. Trainer Charlie Appleby commented on the progress of the unbeaten Rebel’s Romance.

“The penny is dropping at the right end of the race,” Appleby said of the Dubawi gelding. “He’s three from three and had two starts on the synthetics at Kempton and Newcastle, then he came over here (to Dubai) and put in a nice performance in the Guineas Trial.

“He learned plenty, getting the kickback and a feel of the surface as well as the style of dirt racing. He overcame the greenness through that and managed to win still, so that was very pleasing. He’s definitely come forward again since then so, for me, he’s a live contender in the Derby.”

The Godolphin team is scheduled to fly to Saudi on Wednesday.