April 18, 2019

Accelerate eyes Pegasus World Cup before retiring to Lane’s End

Accelerate sails home to win the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) under jockey Joel Rosario at Churchill Downs on November 3, 2018 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Accelerate vanned Sunday to his future stud home at Lane’s End Farm, but the presumptive champion older male won’t become a permanent resident just yet. After parading for breeders deciding mating plans for 2019, the son of Lookin at Lucky will rejoin trainer John Sadler to gear up for his likely Pegasus World Cup (G1) swan song.

“We jogged him up and down the road (outside Churchill Downs’ Barn 43) and he looked very sound and happy,” Sadler told the notes team of the Sunday morning check-up.

Sadler, who was celebrating an overdue first Breeders’ Cup victory in his 45th attempt, wanted to refocus attention onto Accelerate’s accomplishments.

“You know the John Sadler human-interest story is a good line but this needs to be about the horse,” the trainer said.

“I hope people will zero in on his campaign – five Grade 1 victories with four at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter and usually carrying high weight. He showed (in the Classic) with horses from around the world, that he was the best horse. He had a great campaign and we’re very proud of that. He’s really a champion.”

The $9 million Pegasus on January 26 is shaping up as a rematch with Classic runner-up Gunnevera, and there is the potential of a mouthwatering showdown with Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) star Monomoy Girl and Dirt Mile (G1) hero City of Light.

Gunnevera is due back at trainer Antonio Sano’s Gulfstream Park West base Monday.

“We will run him in the Pegasus,” Sano said.

Classic fifth Mendelssohn, entering stud at Ashford in 2019, is flying back to Ballydoyle with nearly all the rest of Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup team – a move that raises the prospect of his possibly trying a last hurrah in the Pegasus.

Monomoy Girl is entertaining the Pegasus, according to the postrace press conference with connections. The presumptive champion three-year-old filly would be taking on males for the first time.

Trainer Brad Cox, speaking to the Breeders’ Cup notes team about the Horse of the Year debate, believes Triple Crown winner Justify is the worthy honoree.

“With what he accomplished, in such a short amount of time, he deserves Horse of the Year,” Cox said.

“Someone did tell me that they thought that Monomoy Girl’s campaign was the most impressive by a three-year-old filly since Rachel Alexandra. I’m not saying it was, but that was a pretty big compliment.”

Definitely pointing for the Pegasus is Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile runner-up Seeking the Soul.

“He’s great today,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “Hopefully we can move on to the Pegasus and earn an invite to Dubai (for the World Cup [G1]).”

Reigning Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow, a gutsy third to Accelerate in the Classic, will again winter there for the Carnival and bid to repeat.

City of Light, another set to begin his stud career at Lane’s End in 2019, could be in line for the Pegasus, as mentioned in the postrace presser.

“He came out of the race in good order and ate up last night,” trainer Mike McCarthy said. “We will see how he comes out of this race and if he acts like he needs a race, the Cigar Mile ([G1] December 1 at Aqueduct) is an option.”

McCarthy added that Axelrod, ninth in the Classic, has the option of reverting to seven furlongs versus fellow sophomores in the December 26 Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita.

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) upsetter Shamrock Rose is under consideration for the La Brea (G1) on the same day, Daily Racing Form reports. Another coup in the Santa Anita feature, although restricted to three-year-old fillies, could persuade Eclipse voters to bestow the champion female sprinter title.

Trainer Peter Miller’s two-time champs Roy H and Stormy Liberal, who repeated in the Sprint (G1) and Turf Sprint (G1) respectively, will aim once again for the corresponding races on Dubai World Cup night. Roy H will try to improve on his third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), while Stormy Liberal hopes to go one better after a close second in the Al Quoz Sprint.

Sprint runner-up Whitmore is likewise taking his familiar path of wintering at Oaklawn Park.

“We’ll take him back to Hot Springs for the sprint series at Oaklawn next spring and hope to get back to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Turf Sprint near-misser World of Trouble, bound for Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday, is taking a big class drop next out.

“He’s eligible for the Claiming Crown,” trainer Jason Servis said of the festivities at Gulfstream December 1. “He can run the five-eighths turf or the seven-furlong dirt.”

Catalina Cruiser, sixth as the hitherto unbeaten favorite in the Dirt Mile, will be examined thoroughly.

“We’ll get him home to California and give him a full vetting and see what’s going on,” Sadler said. “That was a disappointing run for him yesterday, but the plan is to campaign him at five (in 2019) and you’ll see better of him going forward.

“We scoped him after the race and he came back clean (no bleeding). (Jockey) Drayden (Van Dyke) said he was in a good position around the turn but then started to lug out a little bit and didn’t really kick in. At that point, he didn’t force him or beat him up. He’s a lightly raced horse (with only five career starts) so we’ll check him out and get ready for another day.”

Sadler’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) near-misser, Catapult, will accompany Accelerate to Gulfstream Park, in his case for the new Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).

“We’re really proud of him,” the trainer said. “It was a very good second. He handled the yielding turf really well. He’s been a really good horse. He won two nice stakes at Del Mar and he got beat by Sir Michael Stoute (Expert Eye) so that puts him in good company. He’ll probably run next in the $7 million Pegasus Turf.”

Juddmonte Farms’ Prince Khalid Abdullah is reportedly mulling the future for both of his Breeders’ Cup winners, Turf (G1) history-maker Enable and Expert Eye.

“She is absolutely fine this morning,” trainer John Gosden said of the first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner to come back and score in the Breeders’ Cup.

Stablemate Roaring Lion was none the worse for wear after being eased in his dirt experiment in the Classic. He’ll now retire to stud at Tweenhills with fellow Qatar Racing colorbearer Lightning Spear, seventh in his Mile finale for David Simcock.

Plans are pending for Andre Fabre’s Waldgeist, fifth in the Turf. Stablemate Talismanic, sixth when trying to defend his Turf crown, could advance to the December 9 Hong Kong International Races as he did last year. Hong Kong likewise remains an option for several of O’Brien’s squad, including Mendelssohn, Magic Wand (fourth in the Filly & Mare Turf [G1]), Gustav Klimt (Mile ninth) and Hunting Horn (eighth in the Turf) but as always, final decisions will be made later.

The only O’Brien runner not returning to Ballydoyle is Mile sixth Clemmie, while Princess Yaiza, ninth in the Filly & Mare Turf for Gavin Cromwell, will continue her career with Christophe Clement.

Trainer Chad Brown indicated that Filly & Mare Turf winner Sistercharlie and Distaff runner-up Wow Cat would be back in action in 2019, but the Bob Baffert duo of Abel Tasman and Vale Dori are retired, according to Daily Racing Form. West Coast, seventh in the Classic, is settling into Lane’s End as a new stallion for 2019.