The progressive Saudi Crown gained valuable compensation for some agonising defeats this season with a tenacious gate to wire victory in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.
Ridden by Florent Geroux, the well-supported grey son of Always Dreaming bounced out of the gates and was never headed in the 1800m feature, cosily holding a late thrust from Todd Pletcher’s Dreamlike in the shadows of the post.
Following two defeats by a nose at Belmont Park and Saratoga, this was a breakthrough Grade 1 success for Saudi Crown and trainer Brad Cox was understandably delighted following the half-length success.
“He has always been a good horse. We thought a lot of him last year at Saratoga as a two-year-old. He had a setback, and the owners were all good with giving him as much time as he needed, and he rehabbed well,” said Cox.
“We kept him in Louisville all through the winter and targeted Keeneland with him and it worked out. He is two noses from being undefeated – we are very proud of what he did.”
Cox wasn’t slow in revealing some grand future plans for Saudi Crown, with a trip to the Middle East high on the agenda.
“He could be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Based off the pedigree, by a Derby winner out of a Tapit mare with his physical deal, he could handle the mile and a quarter,” added Cox.
“Obviously, you have to get the right setup. I am not sure he has to have the lead in order to win. He is a pretty kind horse who breaks well.
“I will tell you this, with his Saudi-based ownership group – great guys to work with and for – I think the Saudi Cup is one race that is definitely on the target as well.”