Charlatan likely will bypass the Pegasus World Cup (G1) to make his next start in the world’s richest race, the US$20 million Saudi Cup at 1 1/8 miles in Riyadh on February 20, Bob Baffert said Sunday morning.
The winner receives US$10 million.
Charlatan returned to the races after an eight-month absence with a dominating 4 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on opening day December 26. He had his first workout Saturday since the Malibu, going four furlongs in 49.80 at Santa Anita.
The 4-year-old son of Speightstown was making his first start in the seven-furlong Malibu since crossing the wire on top in the first division of the Arkansas Derby last May 2, only to later be disqualified on a disputed medication violation.
The dazzling chestnut colt has reached the finish line ahead of his rivals by a combined margin of 26 1/2 lengths, an average of better than six lengths per race.
“That’s the plan right now,” Baffert said of the Saudi Cup. “I’ve got another week to make up my mind, but he’d be coming back a little quick for the other race (US$3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 23) off a long layoff, and he ran so hard (in the Malibu), I worry about that.
“The thing I like about the Saudi race is it’s a one-turn, mile-and-an-eighth and Charlatan is so fast. It’s a challenge, but it’s US$20 million.