Pegasus World Cup Down To Ten As Omaha Beach, Spun To Run Will Scratch
Formidable Foes Take Aim At Retiring Favorite
By Kaeli Bartholomew
The Pegasus World Cup (G1) has been an exciting addition to the sport of horse racing since its inaugural running in 2017 as the race has attracted the best horses in the world with its large purse and prestigious reputation. The Gulfstream Park fixture has served as the perfect race for rivalries to be settled and for the careers of important horses to come to a conclusion. The spectacle of it all began when the race’s $12 million purse enticed champion Arrogate and dual Horse of the Year California Chrome to resolve their rivalry for the final race of California Chrome’s career; Arrogate prevailed.
The connections of Gun Runner chose the 2018 Pegasus World Cup as the race to close out the stallion’s great career; he went out a winner. Last year, Breeders Cup Classic (G1) winner Accelerate and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light both chose the Pegasus as the definitive race of their careers before retiring to Lane’s End Farm. City of Light romped.
There are quite a few differences between this year’s Pegasus World Cup and its previous editions — the purse has dropped from the original amount of $12 million to $3 million and no horse will be allowed to run on Lasix, the diuretic given horses to prevent “bleeding” or EIPH (Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage).
The disappointing news of the scratch of the two favorites, Spun to Run and Omaha Beach, has left the race without a huge rivalry like in years past too.
Spun to Run became the first of the two favorites to scratch when his team discovered that he had hives.
“It happened within the last two weeks. He broke out in hives. It was on his stomach, back, all over his legs. He means so much to me I’m almost crying,” trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero told Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form.
Just a few hours later, Privman broke the news that Omaha Beach would also be scratched from the Pegasus World Cup.
“He went out for a gallop this morning, cooled out great, but we noticed something later,” Trainer Richard Mandella told Privman, “We X-rayed his right-hind ankle. It’s questionable what’s there, but it looks like it might be the beginning of a cannon-bone fracture. We can’t take a chance.”
Nevertheless, ten talented horses will be loaded into the gates for the Pegasus World Cup, now headlined by horses like Higher Power and Mucho Gusto. A race that was considered a sure-battle between the top two horses is now a wide-open spectacle. Anyone could win it.
Nevertheless, the race promises to bring drama like it has before with names like Higher Power and Mucho Gusto still in the gate.
The 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes is a 1 ⅛-miles dirt race, carded as the day’s 12th and final race of the day. Post time is approximately 5:40 p.m. ET.
Following is the field for the race, in post position order:
1. True Timber (Mineshaft – Queen’s Wood, by Tiznow)
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Owner: Calumet Farm
Breeder: Mr. & Mrs. Marc C. Ferrell
True Timber isn’t new to the Pegasus World Cup – he ran in the race last year and finished seventh. This 6-year old son of Mineshaft has never won a stakes race and hasn’t won a race at all since 2018, but that doesn’t mean he should be completely overlooked. True Timber recently finished third in the Kelso Handicap (GII), Bold Ruler Handicap (GII), and Cigar Mile Handicap (GI). The only two horses to beat him in the Cigar Mile Handicap were Maximum Security and fellow Pegasus World Cup contender Spun to Run.
If True Timber performs like he has in his last three races, he could have a shot at hitting the board or completing the superfecta.
2. Tax (Arch – Toll, by Giant’s Causeway)
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Trainer: Danny Gargan
Owners: R.A. Hill Stables, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable
Breeder: Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider
Tax first emerged on the scene when he won he finished third in the Remsen Stakes (GII) in December 2018. The 4-year-old got his first graded stakes victory in the Withers Stakes (GIII) in February 2019 on his route to the Kentucky Derby. The four-year old Arch gelding didn’t hit the board in the Derby or in his attempt at the Belmont Stakes, but rebounded to win the Jim Dandy (GII) in July. Tax hasn’t won a race since that performance, but he did finish second in the Discovery Stakes (GIII) in his last outing.
Tax must return to the form that earned him a victory in the Jim Dandy in order to hit the board in the Pegasus World Cup.
3. Diamond Oops (Lookin At Lucky – Patriotic Viva, by WhyWhyWhy)
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Trainer: Patrick L. Biancone
Owners: Diamond 100 Racing Club, Amy E. Dunne, D P Racing LLC., Patrick L. Biancone Racing
Breeder: Kin Hui Racing Stables LLC
Diamond Oops has won four races at Gulfstream Park, proving that he knows and likes this track. The only problem is that Diamond Oops is his best at sprint distances, not the 1 ⅛-mile distance of the Pegasus World Cup. He faced fellow Pegasus contenders Omaha Beach and Spun to Run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), but finished a well-beaten eighth.
Nevertheless, Diamond Oops has been training well at Palm Meadows Training Center. If he improves with the lengthened distance, his experience at Gulfstream Park could help him pull an upset.
4, Seeking The Soul (Perfect Soul – Seeking The Title, by Seeking The Gold)
Jockey: John Velasquez
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Owner: Charles E. Fipke
Breeder: Charles E. Fipke
Seeking The Soul was seen finishing a strong second in last year’s Pegasus World Cup behind City of Light and he ran fifth in the race’s 2018 edition (won by Gun Runner). The 7-year old son of Perfect Soul has only won one race between then and now, the Stephen Foster Handicap (GII), but has routinely run against the best horses in the country. He is a logical choice for people who like experienced horses, especially since he has improved his finishing position each time he ran in the Pegasus.
If he can run as well as he did in last year’s Pegasus, Seeking The Soul could hit the board or even become an upset winner.
5. Omaha Beach (War Front – Charming, by Seeking The Gold)
Jockey: Mike Smith
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Owner: Fox Hill Farms
Breeder: Charming Syndicate
Omaha Beach is the morning line favorite for the Pegasus World Cup, and for very good reason, too. He has been performing exceptionally well since returning to racing after undergoing surgery for entrapped epiglottis and has won races like the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (GI) and Malibu Stakes (GI). There are a few things standing in his way, however. The first is fellow Pegasus contender Spun to Run, who beat Omaha Beach to the wire in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) in November. In addition to facing that competitor, Omaha Beach must stretch back out to 1 ⅛ miles, a distance he hasn’t run at since winning the Arkansas Derby (GI) in April.
If this classy son of War Front can successfully stretch back out, he can get his revenge on Spun to Run and close out his career on top.
6. Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro – Alternate, by Seattle Slew)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Trainer: John Sadler
Owner: Hronis Racing LLC
Breeder: Pin Oak Stud
Higher Power rose to prominence by winning the Pacific Classic (GI) in August and since that breakout victory, this 5-year old son of Medaglia d’Oro has finished third in the Awesome Again Stakes (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). Owners Hronis Racing were represented by Accelerate, who finished third despite being the favorite, a year ago. Higher Power has been training well at Santa Anita for the past few weeks.
With a good start and the form he displayed in his last three races, Higher Power could hit the board in the Pegasus or could even spring the upset.
7. War Story (Northern Afleet – Belle Watling, by Pulpit)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Elizabeth L. Dobles
Owner: Imaginary Stables and Glenn Ellis
Breeder: Jack Swain III
Like Seeking The Soul, War Story has run in the Pegasus World Cup twice. He finished fifth in the 2017 edition of the race and tenth in the 2018 edition. This 8-year old gelding by Northern Afleet was seen winning the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (GIII) at Gulfstream Park and yet to win a grade 1 race. Though he is experienced in the Pegasus World Cup, he must improve in order to become an upset winner of this race
8. Mr. Freeze (To Honor and Serve – Heavenly Cat, by Tabasco Cat)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Trainer: Dale Romans
Owner: Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister
Breeder: Siena Farms LLC
Mr. Freeze is one of the longest shots running in the the race this year. This 5-year old son of To Honor and Serve has two graded stakes victories on his resume: the West Virginia Derby (GIII) and Ack Ack Stakes (GIII). Since winning the Ack Ack, Mr. Freeze has finished second in the Hagyard Fayette Stakes (GII) and was third in the Clark Stakes (GI) and has been training over the Gulfstream Park surfae since December. This horse will need to really improve to hit the board here.
9. Spun to Run (Hard Spun – Yawkey Way, by Grand Slam)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Trainer: Juan Carlos Guerrero
Owner: Robert P. Donaldson
Breeder: Sabana Farm
Spun to Run looms as the horse most likely to upset Omaha Beach. He has already defeated Omaha Beach in the Breeders’ Cup and most recently ran second to Maximum Security in the Cigar Mile (GI). This 4-year old colt by Hard Spun also won the Smarty Jones stakes (GIII) at Parx in impressive fashion and the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile Stakes. He has been training very well at Palm Meadows Training Center.
Spun to Run poses a serious threat to Omaha Beach on Saturday.
10. Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man – ItsAGiantCauseway,Giant’s Causeway)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Micahel Lund Peterson
Breeder: Teneri Farm Inc. & Bernardo Alvarez Calderon
Mucho Gusto hasn’t been the brightest star in Bob Baffert’s barn, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been a star nonetheless. The 4-year old son of Mucho Macho Man has won four grade three races: Bob Hope Stakes, Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Lazaro Barrera Stakes, and Affirmed Stakes. He hasn’t made himself look bad when running in grade 1 company, either. He ran second to Maximum Security in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (GI), making the other colt really work for the victory. He also finished third in the Travers Stakes (G1), won by Code of Honor, and was only a half-length behind second-place finisher Tacitus.
Mucho Gusto has been impressing trainer Bob Baffert, who won the 2017 Pegasus World Cup with Arrogate, with his strong workouts at Santa Anita. If he performs the way he did in the Travers or Haskell and not the way he did in the Oklahoma Derby (G3), Mucho Gusto is a threat to favorites Omaha Beach and Spun to Run.
11. Tenfold (Curlin – Temptress, by Tapit)
Jockey: Tyler Gaffelione
Trainer: Steven M. Assmussen
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.
Breeder: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
Tenfold’s last victory came in the Pimlico Special Stakes (GII) in May and he has run in four graded stakes races and one stakes race since that victory, failing to hit the board in any of them. He does like the 1 ⅛-mile distance of the Pegasus, but has never run at Gulfstream Park. Tenfold will need to run a very strong race if he is to beat the major contenders in this field.
12. Bodexpress (Bodemeister – Pied A Terre, by City Zip)
Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Owners: Top Racing LLC, Global Thoroughbred, and GDS Racing Stable
Breeder: Martha Jane Mulholland
Bodexpress became a sensation when he ran the Preakness Stakes (and actually went around the racetrack twice) without a jockey. He did it all without breaking his maiden, too. Despite this, he has performed very well at Gulfstream Park. He ran second in the Florida Derby (GII)) and third in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (GIII), which was also his most recent start. He broke his maiden and won an Allowance race at Gulfstream Park West.
Bodexpress has raced against some of the best horses in his crop. If he can run like he did in the Florida Derby, there is a possibility that he could hit the board on Saturday.
All in all, the Pegasus World Cup is shaping up to be an exciting and dramatic race, a showdown between some of the best horses in the country. It’s action you don’t want to miss!