Champion Stellar Wind was scheduled to record her last major work on Sunday for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on January 27, but trainer Chad Brown called an audible and sent the Curlin mare to the track on Saturday.
The six-year-old chestnut breezed an in-company half-mile in :49.75 over the fast dirt at the Palm Meadows Training Center, Gulfstream’s satellite training in Palm Beach County.
“I moved her up a day because there is a slight chance of rain tomorrow,” Brown explained. “I didn’t want to take a chance.
“All of her serious works are done. She just went an easy half-mile today to stretch her legs. I feel like she is fit enough and good enough to run a good race next week.”
Stellar Wind worked in company with the sophomore colt Mask, who moved his record to a perfect two-for-two taking the Mucho Macho Man Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths on January 6 at Gulfstream. The Virginia-bred mare, who was purchased by Coolmore for $6 million through the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, worked outside her stablemate.
“I thought she sat there, perched outside of him, really comfortable and galloped out well within herself,” Brown said. “We weren’t trying to gain anything this morning, just maintaining her where we are into the race, sound and happy.
“She came back bucking and squealing and happy. For her, at this time, that’s what I wanted.”
Multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Gunnevera also worked in company while posting his final major move on Saturday ahead of the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup.
The Antonio Sano-trained four-year-old worked at Gulfstream Park West, covering five furlongs over the fast dirt in 1:01.
“He worked very, very good,” Sano said. “He worked in company with Cometin and galloped out very good. I’m so excited for my horse to run in the race.”
Gunnevera finished second in the Travers Stakes (G1) and a dead-heat fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in his past pair of starts to fellow Pegasus contenders West Coast and Gun Runner, respectively.
Gunnevera was joined on the Gulfstream Park West worktab Saturday by Sharp Azteca and War Story, who are headed to the Pegasus for trainer Jorge Navarro.
Sharp Azteca, a 5 1/4-length winner of the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) when last seen on December 2 at Aqueduct, breezed a bullet five furlongs in :58.40.
Grade 2 scorer War Story, fourth most recently in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and fifth in last year’s inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup, covered the same distance in 1:01.80.
Fear the Cowboy captured the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream on December 16 and was confirmed for the Pegasus on Wednesday. The Efren Loza Jr.-trained six-year-old readied for the 1 1/8-mile affair with a five-furlong breeze in 1:02 Saturday over the fast dirt at Oakridge Training Center in Ocala, Florida.
Grade 2-placed Singing Bullet, who has faced stakes rivals only three times early in his 10-race career, is under consideration for the Pegasus World Cup. Trained by Dale Romans, the Hard Spun four-year-old breezed five furlongs Saturday over the fast main track at Gulfstream in 1:01.77.
“He worked very well,” Romans said. “He went off the first eighth a little slower than I wanted but he finished up great and galloped out great. He’s been doing very well since he got here.
“The last race was a throw out. He came stumbling out of the gate and just had no chance to catch up,” Romans added of Singing Bullet’s fourth-placing most recently on December 29 in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream.
Dual Grade 2 conqueror Giant Expectations worked a bullet five furlongs on Friday over the fast main track at Santa Anita Park with exercise rider Pepi Aragon aboard.
“He went well,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “I couldn’t be happier. We’ll know more as he goes along. We’re taking it one day at a time.
“So far, so good. He looked really good this morning. He’ll get to Gulfstream Wednesday, probably walk Thursday and school in the afternoon, school again Friday, and maybe just jog him a long way or give him a light gallop.
“Problem with him is, he doesn’t do anything light. He likes to honk around there, so we’ll see what I do with him on Friday.”
Private clocker Gary Young said the five-year-old son of Frost Giant looked “terrific” but added “whether he is good enough to win a $16 million race is the question.”
Giant Expectations and fellow California invaders West Coast and Collected, who are scheduled for their final Pegasus moves on Sunday, will to Florida on Wednesday, January 24.
In other Pegasus World Cup news, trainer Jamie Osborne spoke about Group 2 hero Toast of New York, who was retired after finishing second in the 2014 runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pacific Classic (G1) but returned to competition with a December 6 allowance victory at Lingfield in England.
The seven-year-old bay heads straight into the Pegasus off that 1 1/4-mile triumph.
“It’s a rarity, isn’t it?” Osborne mused. “But as time went on it was becoming more and more obvious that the fire was still burning.
“The fact we are not just back but we’re back with the belief that he is as good if not better than he was back in 2014 is beyond our wildest dream.”