Maximum Security wins inaugural Saudi Cup
Maximum Security winning the inaugural Saudi Cup in Riyadh last February. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) has decided to release the prize money to the connections of horses placed second to 10th in the inaugural running of the $20 million 2020 Saudi Cup, the world’s richest race which was held at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, Riyadh on February 29.

A statement published on the Saudi Cup website said that prize money will be withheld from the winning horse, Maximum Security, until the JCSA is able to complete its investigation and any inquiry into allegations that trainer Jason Servis was involved in a mass doping scheme in the USA.

The Bob Baffert-trained Midnight Bisou finished second ahead of Dubai’s globetrotting Group 1 winner Benbatl who is trained by Emirati handler Saeed Bin Surour.

The final margin was three-quarters of a length, with two lengths separating Midnight Bisou and Benbatl. The order of finish was completed by Mucho Gusto, Tacitus (USA), Gold Dream (JPN), Chrysoberyl (JPN), Mjjack (IRE), Magic Wand (IRE), Gronkowski (USA),McKinzie (USA),Great Scot (GB), North America and Capezzano.

The purse structure for the Saudi Cup called for paying $3.5 million to the runner-up, $2 million to the third-place finisher and $1.5 million to the fourth-place finisher. The rest of the field was to be paid from $1 million down to $200,000 for the 10th-place finisher.

In the event of Maximum Security being disqualified, Midnight Bisou would pick up the $10 million as the winner and every other finisher would move up and collect a bigger purse.

The Saudi Cup statement said that the decision to withhold the prize money of Maximum Security has been taken in the interests of safeguarding the integrity of racing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is based on the following considerations:

Following the running of the 2020 Saudi Cup, Jason Servis and others were indicted on charges in the USA. The sealed indictment, which covers a period of time between 2018 up to February 2020, alleges that Jason Servis administered performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to horses in his care, including Maximum Security.

The administration of PEDs is prohibited under the JCSA Rules and the Horseman’s Guide to the Saudi Cup, to secure the integrity of racing and the welfare of racehorses. Prior to the race, the JCSA received no allegation and no indication that Maximum Security had ever been administered PEDs.

However, as a result of the USA indictment the JCSA received an objection to the participation of Maximum Security in the race. As a result of that objection and the indictment, the JCSA commenced its own investigation into the allegations which was notified to all connections of runners in the race, and to the wider public.

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

Therefore, unless and until the evidence that supports the sealed indictment in the US Proceedings is placed in the public domain, that evidence is unavailable to the JCSA’s investigation and to any JCSA inquiry.

The JCSA says it is bound to reach a fair and reasonable decision on the objection and circumstances of Maximum Security’s running in the race and it cannot do so without the consideration of relevant evidence that has been gathered by the prosecution authorities in the US proceedings in respect of the sealed indictment.

Therefore, the statement added, the JCSA cannot properly conclude its investigation and any inquiry by its Stewards’ Committee cannot be commenced without consideration of all relevant evidence including that gathered by the prosecution authorities in the US.

The JCSA will make no further comment until the conclusion of the investigation, the statement concluded.