Saudi Jockey Club to pay out Saudi Cup runners - but not the winner

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia is to award prize-money to the connections of horses placed second to tenth in the inaugural running in February of the Saudi Cup.

However, it will continue to withhold prize-money from connections of the winner, Maximum Security, whose trainer Jason Servis is among 27 individuals facing federal charges in the United States as part of an alleged widespread doping scheme.

The decision, says the JCSA, has been taken to safeguard the integrity of racing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while its own investigation continues into the allegations – notified to all connections of runners in the race and to the wider public.

That investigation has been hampered by the COVID-19 crisis and the fact that the JCSA is not a party to the legal proceedings in the USA.

The JCSA says it is not in a position therefore to conclude its investigation properly, and that any inquiry by its stewards’ committee cannot begin without consideration of all relevant evidence.

Maximum Security beat his compatriot Midnight Bisou by three-quarters of a length in the 1m1f event, which carried prize-money of $20 million, of which $10m was due to go to the winner.

However, barely a week later came the bombshell news of Servis’s indictment, which covered a period of time between 2018 up to February 2020, and alleged that he administered performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to horses in his care, including Maximum Security.

Servis was immediately fired by the owners of Maximum Security, who was transferred to Bob Baffert and made a successful debut for his new trainer in last month’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.

Midnight Bisou earned $3.5m for her connections and Godolphin earned $2m after Benbatl finished third. Prize-money for tenth place was $200,000.