New York Central (USA), racing in the colours of Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, got up in the final strides to win the premiere edition of the $1,500,000 Saudia Cup (Sprint) by a head under US-based jockey Irad Ortiz Jnr.

The 5-year-old Tapit colt caught the Japanese-based Matera Sky (USA), who had mounted what seemed to be an insurmountable lead at the top of the stretch. The 1200 metres on the King Abdulaziz dirt track was timed in 1:11.68

Matera Sky broke fastest of all in the field of 13 and had a lead of about five lengths as they turned for home while New York Central was near the back of the pack in the middle of the track mounting a furious rally in the final 400m for the one-length victory, scoring one for the host country on its biggest night of racing.

Quotes:

Irad Ortiz Jnr, jockey, New York Central, 1st: “Inshallah. For a second I thought I was too far back turning for home but as soon as I started to ask my horse he started to pick it up and give me some run. Then I knew I had a chance. The other horse (Matera Sky) started stopping and was coming back fast. So I kept riding and I still had a chance to get there on time. (Winning on a night like this) means a lot. I enjoyed it, riding for Prince Faisal. I’m so excited.”

Yutaka Take, jockey Matera Sky, 2nd: “He felt really good, I think the outside draw took a little bit out of him that he needed for the end. With an inside draw we would have won well. I really thought we had it there for a while, so it’s a bit disappointing to run so well and finish second.”

Hideyuki Mori, trainer, Matera Sky: “It was so close, he started well and just performed brilliantly throughout. It is a shame such a good run was lost by such a such a small distance.”

Mickael Barzalona, jockey, Gladiator King, 3rd: They went very fast and he lost pace with them. He ran well. He’s a good horse who does the job.”

Rest of jockey quotes:

Pat Dobbs, Drafted, 6th: “He just wasn’t quick enough.”

Abdulaziz Almussa, Manguzi, 8th: “It was a good race, the American horse came on the outside. He is a good horse.”

Luis Saez, Captain Scotty, 9th: “The race was good. He was in a perfect spot, he just got tired.”

Joel Rosario, Imperial Hint, 12th: “I looked like I was in a good spot, but I just got no horse in the end. He just got tired.”