04/18/2007 12:00AM

Premium Tap to remain in Saudi Arabia to race


Premium Tap, who finished a game second to Invasor in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, will not be returning to race in the United States, trainer John Kimmel confirmed on Wednesday.

Instead, Premium Tap, a 5-year-old son of Pleasant Tap, will remain in Saudi Arabia and be pointed to a 6-year-old campaign that will include a defense of his King's Cup victory and perhaps another run at the Dubai World Cup. Premium Tap is owned by the sons of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, who purchased him after he finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic last year.

"The king is afraid the horse could get hurt if he came back and compromise his chances to make the King's Cup, and that's his main objective," said Kimmel, who will no longer train the horse. "He's taken a special attraction to the horse. He's probably head and shoulders above the rest of the horses in Saudi Arabia."

Kimmel also noted that in order for Premium Tap to return to race in the United States, he would have had to do 60 days in quarantine, which means he would not have been able to return until sometime in June.

"The quarantine situation became a problem," Kimmel said.

Kimmel, who trained the horse to victories in the Woodward and Clark handicaps last year as well as his third in the BC Classic, thought the horse's best races were still in front of them.

"It's extremely disappointing," Kimmel said of losing Premium Tap. "He's a tick away from being the best dirt horse in the world; they don't come along very often. Also, he's got a pedigree that suggests he'd get better as he got older. He came out of that race real well, and those are the kind of races that propel him to another level."