Commissioner King Lays Down The Law In Saudi Derby
25 February 2023
25 February 2023 – Fans in Riyadh were treated to an absolute thriller in the G3 Saudi Derby presented by Boutique Group, as locally-trained Commissioner King (USA) wore down American raider Havnameltdown (USA) in the final strides.
There is also a lucrative boxing match in the Saudi Arabian city this week and the 1600m event developed into an equine prize fight, with Frankie Dettori and Havnameltdown and Luis Morales and Commissioner King taking it right to the final bell.
It was Dettori who bounced out of the gates first aboard Bob Baffert’s colt, already a multiple Graded winner back in the States, but whose stamina would be tested to the limit as he was yet to race beyond 1400m.
Every move the legendary Italian made was shadowed by Morales and the Sabah Alshammri-trained Commissioner King, a lightly-raced son of Commissioner who was acquired from America but was resold at the JCSA Sale in Saudi Arabia and campaigned domestically.
He had warmed up for this $1.5 million prize with a stylish win over the same course and distance in December.
They were the only two to ever get into the race, with Commissioner King only edging past close home to gain the day by a head in a time of 1:38.82, while Japanese runner Derma Sotogake (JPN) came through for third, a length and three-quarters adrift, with Uruguayan star Es-Unico (BRZ) in a commendable fourth.
Abdulaziz Alyousef, representing owners FMQ Stable, Commissioner King, 1st: "That was history. You will never see a better duel between two amazing horses like it. That will be watched over and over for a very long time.
"He is the first horse that we bought at FMQ Stables for the owner Faisal Mohammed Alqahtani and he has won the Derby! It is beyond our wildest dreams! He has beaten Bob Baffert and the Japanese horses, people who don’t come here to compete, they come to win.
"The plan was to be close to Havnameltdown and try to test him in the straight. We felt he would run well but we weren’t optimistic enough to think he would win. It is just amazing."
Luis Morales, jockey, Commissioner King: "What a tough horse. It was an honour to ride in a race like that and to come out on top is just the best. He was so tough, he kept wanting it and we got there at the line."
Jimmy Barnes, stable representative of trainer Bob Baffert, Havnameltdown, 2nd: "He ran a great race and he just got ran down late on, but we are very proud of the horse. He really showed up today but it is not an easy thing to do, come over here and take on all these horses so we are very proud of him."
Frankie Dettori, jockey, Havnameltdown, 2nd: "After speaking to Bob, I tried to nurse his speed – he has tonnes of speed. I tried to save as much as I could, we got into a duel, but unfortunately in the last 50 yards, it ran out. He was absolutely knackered, he put on a great show and he was very brave. It’s a shame it wasn’t 7/8ths [of a mile] but this is life."
Fuma Matsuwaka, jockey, Derma Sotogake, 3rd: "He ran very well. I was a bit nervous but my horse was relaxed and made me comfortable. I had a great experience riding in Saudi Arabia and I was grateful for the opportunity."
The Saudi Cup 2023 Resource Space is now open: https://jcsa.resourcespace.com/?c=631003&k=5379140ea9