US-trained thoroughbred Taiba established himself as one of the leading middle-distances horses in the world in 2022. Under the hands of legendary trainer Bob Baffert, the four-year-old won two Grade One races last season.
The son of Gun Runner prevailed at the highest level for the first time when he won the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. He stayed on strongly in the 1m1f contest to score by three lengths.
A second Grade One success followed later in the year in the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita. He dropped down in distance to 7f where he showcased his speed, scoring by just over fourth lengths in that race.
Baffert’s exciting colt is now set for a trip across to Riyadh for the Saudi Cup, the richest race in the world. He is the +300 favorite in the horse racing odds for the 1m1f contest. It will be his first trip outside of the United States.
Given the record Baffert has in international races, Taiba is likely to be one of the popular racing tips for the contest which is worth $10 million to the winner. His trainer has won the Dubai World Cup four times and he has won the US Triple crown twice.
Taiba set for Meydan in March
If everything goes to plan in the Saudi Cup, Taiba is then set to travel to the UAE for the Dubai World Cup. That race is over the longer distance of 1m2f, and should he enter the international contest, he will be bidding to score over that for the trip for the first time in his career.
One of the biggest challengers to Taiba in the Dubai Cup is likely to be his stablemate and last year’s winner Country Grammer. The defending champion is on course to return to Dubai where he is bidding to become just the second horse in history to prevail in back-to-back years. Thunder Snow managed that feat in 2019 for British-based trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Once his campaign in the Middle East is over, Taiba is likely to be given a break. The Breeders’ Cup Classic in November will be his target at the back end of 2023, and given his age, that may be the final outing of his career.
Flightline Retirement Opens Gap to Be Filled
Flightline rose to the top of the world rankings in 2022 with two impressive performances in the Pacific Classic Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Taiba finished third behind the superstar colt in the latter at Keeneland.
With Flightline now retired to stud, there is an opportunity for a US-trained horse to establish itself, not just as the best dirt horse in the country, but also around the world.
Taiba and Country Grammer are two of the horses who will be in contention for that tag. What they achieve in the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup will go a long way toward building their legacy on the track.
A lot will be expected of Taiba in the Saudi Cup. He has a great chance of becoming the first US-trained horse to win the race in what is just the fourth renewal in history.