LOUISVILEY, KENTY – MAY 01: Medina Spirit #8, spearheaded by jockey John Velázquez, (R) crosses the… [+] The finish line to win the 147th race of the Kentucky Derby ahead of Mandalon #7, piloted by Florent Gerroux, and Hot Rod Charlie #9, ridden by Flavian Pratt, at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Sam Mallon/Getty Images)
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – FEBRUARY 26: Vigberto Ramos riding Pratik Road (c) wins the Saudi Cup… [+] 2022 King Abdulaziz Racecourse on February 26, 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by François Nel/Getty Images)
In the hard-fought 2022 Saudi Cup, running it’s third but its first race as a Grade 1 stake, Hardy’s longshot Emblem Road turned on the gas in the last 200 yards and passed the wooden leaders. That they still stood to ring up their lifetime earnings with a handy $10 million out of a $20 million purse for the race. Kentucky Derby veteran Mandlaun and London favorite Mishrife, who were widely discussed, were factors in the race, but could not achieve the required pace in the final furlong. Emblem Road’s victory time was 1:50.53.
Emblem Road was a classic underdog bomb, delighting bookmakers who had apparently spent the time to box him. At the top of the stretch he was spending his time in the absolute middle of the pack and, almost, as if he would fulfill his lack of promise and meet a weak, passerby finish. Instead, with veteran Panamanian jockey Vigberto “Viggy” Ramos, Emblem Road woke up and became a completely different horse, as we had seen in the last seven furlongs, emerging unharmed to start a blazing run. was the one who took him straight to the wire for the first time.
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – FEBRUARY 26: Wigberto Ramos riding Emblem Road celebrates after winning… [+] Saudi Cup 2022 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on February 26, 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by François Nel/Getty Images)
For his part, 53-year-old Ramos was a happy jockey on his way to the winner’s circle on his mount, as surprised as the crowd and the rest of the racing world were that he was there. Ramos had made a name for himself in the States, but has been a champion jockey in Saudi Arabia for the past two decades and thus presented the figure of a beloved home-town hero to the Riyadh crowd.
The race attracted an eclectic international arena from all corners of the globe, resulting in a very patchwork level of talent in a field of fourteen runners. It was thought that the four top American horses, starting with second favorite Mandalone and ascending order of odds, including Midnight Bourbon and Art Collector, would bring a tremendous array of talent to the race that Japan, Brazil and the Bay Area could not match. Could it While on paper a sort of handicap argument, it turned out to be a pleasantly mistaken belief that local talent icons Rode and Viggy Ramos were just too happy to be ruined.