02/08/2018 3:10PM

Saudi Arabia proposes rich day of racing

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The Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority announced late Tuesday that it intended to create a major new Thoroughbred racing event called the King Abdulaziz Horse Championship, but no details of the event were revealed.

The Sports Authority announcement said the event would be worth $17 million, but it’s unclear whether that number represents prize money for one race or a gross total for a series of races. Nor is anyone certain when the first edition of the race or races would take place.

The announcement is part of a general Saudi government effort, called Vision2030, to diversify the state’s economy and attract foreign investment.

The Saudi racing season runs from late fall to early spring, and it’s hard to imagine a spot on the calendar that won’t create conflicts with existing races, be it the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November, the Pegasus World Cup in January, or the Dubai World Cup in March.

Thoroughbred racing, mainly on dirt, is well established in Saudi Arabia, and funding the purse of the race or races would presumably not be of great consequence to the oil-rich nation. But Saudi Arabia has never hosted an international Thoroughbred event, and it’s uncertain how the organization of such a project would unfold.