A slew of runners for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) took to the track on Saturday in preparation for the January 27 event at Gulfstream Park.
Grade 1 hero Sharp Azteca breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 over a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park West with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. The Jorge Navarro-trained five-year-old galloped out six furlongs in impressive fashion.
“He was sharp – visually, very impressive. He was clipping off :12’s,” said Pegasus World Cup stakeholder Ron Paolucci of Loooch Racing, who struck a deal with Sharp Azteca’s owner Ivan Rodriguez last week to run the dark bay son of Freud in the world’s richest race.
Sharp Azteca makes his seasonal debut in the Pegasus off a 5 1/4-length romp in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct on December 2. Prior to that, the Kentucky-bred missed by only a half-length in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Loooch Racing and Navarro also have Grade 2 victor War Story entered in the Pegasus, and the Northern Afleet gelding clocked a bullet five-eighths breeze at Gulfstream Park West Saturday in :59.60.
“Jorge said last week this was going to be his money work for the Pegasus, and he’s one of those he can work however you want him to work,” Paolucci said. “I think we got out of it what we needed.”
War Story captured the Brooklyn Invitational (G2) at Belmont Park last summer before placing fourth behind Gun Runner in the both the Whitney Stakes (G1) and Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. The six-year-old chestnut filled that same spot behind the same runner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in his last start.
Multiple Grade 2 conqueror Gunnevera logged five furlongs at Gulfstream Park West Saturday with jockey Luis Saez aboard. The Antonio Sano pupil, who will run in the Pegasus World Cup for stakeholders William Gallo, Bella Inizio Farm and owner Salomon Del-Vallee, recorded a time of 1:03.60 working in company with stablemate Cheech Thunder.
“It was very good. The track was very sloppy this morning, so I told Luis to take it easy,” Sano said. “He went in 1:03 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.”
Gunnevera was a dead-heat fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic most recently.
Seeking the Soul earned a shot at the Pegasus World Cup taking the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs last November. The Charles Fipke homebred also romped by nine lengths in a Keeneland allowance/optional claimer.
On Saturday Seeking the Soul posted his penultimate breeze for the Pegasus, going five furlongs in 1:00.40 over the fast main track at Fair Grounds. The Dallas Stewart trainee galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.
“We’re really happy with him,” Stewart said. “He went well, he came back great and looked sharp. We’re getting ready to march on and get ready. When you’re two weeks out you want to get a good work in him and the next one, we’ll just go slower.”
Stewart said Seeking the Soul would have one more work next weekend before shipping to South Florida on January 24.
Grade 2-placed Singing Bullet and Grade 1-placed Giuseppe the Great are both under Pegasus World Cup consideration, and the duo breezed over the fast main track at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Singing Bullet clocked a bullet five-eighths in :59.83 for trainer Dale Romans.
“He worked super,” Romans said of the Hard Spun four-year-old. “We’re on the bench. We’re training like we might be called in to play.”
Giuseppe the Great shipped to Gulfstream from Palm Meadows Training Center for a half-mile move in :47.85 for conditioner Nick Zito.
“I’m very happy,” Zito said. “Very comfortable, very relaxing. That’s all I wanted. I’ll work him back next week.”
Dual Grade 2 scorer Giant Expectations blazed a bullet five furlongs on Friday in :58.80 over Santa Anita Park’s fast main track under exercise rider Jose Aragon for the Pegasus World Cup.
“We were pretty pleased with it. We’re happy with his energy. All systems go so far,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “He worked by himself. There were some horses working in front of him that he ended up catching up with.”
It was the first official move for the Frost Giant chestnut since clocking a bullet five-eighths in :59.40 on December 18 at Santa Anita. Giant Expectations followed his December work with a 3 1/4-length, wire-to-wire win in the San Antonio Stakes (G2), where fellow Pegasus contender Collected ran third.
Giant Expectations, who is owned by Exline-Border Racing, Gatto Racing and Garrett Zubok, is scheduled for his final Pegasus work Friday at Santa Anita before shipping to Florida on January 24.
“I just don’t want to go there and gallop a few days and breeze him over the track. If I don’t like the way he works over the track when he breezes, I’d feel terrible,” Eurton said. “This way if he doesn’t run good, I’ll feel terrible that day, but I won’t feel terrible the whole week.”
In other Pegasus news, likely Horse of the Year Gun Runner is scheduled for his final Fair Grounds breeze on Sunday morning prior to the 1ST race, which has post time of 1:00 p.m. (CT). He’ll have his last work before the 1 1/8-mile contest over the Gulfstream Park main track the following Sunday.