With three weeks to go until the Pegasus World Cup (G1), contenders are ramping up their preparations for the $9 million prize.
Accelerate, just announced as an Eclipse Award finalist for Horse of the Year and champion older male, drilled six furlongs in a bullet 1:13.40 at Santa Anita Saturday. Last seen landing the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the John Sadler veteran posted the fastest of 18 works at the distance. Assistant trainer and regular exercise partner Juan Leyva was in the saddle.
“He galloped out (seven furlongs) in (one) 27.41,” Sadler said. “He worked really well, just like himself…He went great. I like to think he’s on the same pattern he was before he won the Pacific Classic (G1).
“He might work seven furlongs next Saturday, or possibly three quarters in company and gallop out. That will be the biggest work of the series, next Saturday.”
Fellow older male finalist City of Light, the only horse to beat Accelerate in 2018, fired a bullet five-eighths in 1:00.00 for Michael McCarthy. The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) star tied for the best of 102 moves on the day.
The Pegasus marks the career finale for Accelerate and City of Light, who will both retire to stud at Lane’s End.
Also working at Santa Anita Saturday was Bob Baffert’s McKinzie, mentioned as a Pegasus hopeful but still needing to make a deal for a berth according to Daily Racing Form. The Pennsylvania Derby (G1) hero, who rolled in the December 26 Malibu (G1), covered a half-mile in :48.80 in his first work back. He’s an Eclipse finalist in the three-year-old male category that belongs to now-retired stablemate Justify.
Three confirmed Pegasus runners tuned up in Florida.
At Todd Pletcher’s winter base of Palm Beach Downs, Audible breezed five panels in 1:01.45. Last year’s Florida Derby (G1) winner was overturned as the 1-10 favorite in his Pegasus prep, the Harlan’s Holiday (G3).
Over at Gulfstream Park West, Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Gunnevera exercised six furlongs in 1:15.20 for Antonio Sano. The $4 million-earner looks to improve on his third in last season’s Pegasus.
Charles Town Classic (G2) victor Something Awesome took to the main track at Gulfstream Park, negotiating one mile in 1:42.62.
“I had another horse at the half-mile pole and they finished together,” trainer Jose Corrales said. “He did it very comfortable. Everything looks good.
“I don’t care about the time; I just care about the horse and how he reacts and how he finishes and how he comes back. He’s handled everything very, very good. Everything is good so far.”
Trainer Chad Brown reports that Cigar Mile (G1) winner Patternrecognition will work Sunday at Palm Meadows.
“He’s doing super,” Brown said.
True Timber, the Cigar Mile runner-up, tuned up Friday by striding five furlongs in 1:00.55 on the Belmont Park training track. The Kiaran McLaughlin pupil is one of two Pegasus contenders for Calumet Farm.
Calumet’s leading player, Bravazo, has posted a pair of bullets recently at Oaklawn Park. The Wayne Lukas colt followed up his five-eighths move in 1:00.20 on Christmas Eve with a 1:00.60 clocking on January 2. Six times Grade 1-placed, including a close second to Justify in the Preakness (G1), Bravazo exits a neck loss in the Clark H. (G1).
Seeking the Soul, third as the defending champion in the Clark, ripped five furlongs in :59.60 at Fair Grounds Saturday. Runner-up to City of Light in the Dirt Mile two back, the Dallas Stewart charge turned in the second fastest of 71 works at the distance.
“He had a huge work last week (six furlongs in 1:11.00 December 29) and he followed it up with a strong five-eighths work,” Stewart said. “He looked great and it looks like he’s on track. He’s where we need him to be.”
Fellow Fair Grounds sojourner Tom’s d’Etat, who extended his winning streak to four in the Tenacious, is set to work Sunday.
Undefeated Mexican star Kukulkan, a perfect 14-0 after conquering the Caribbean Classic at Gulfstream, returned home to gear up. Plans call for him to ship back to Miami on January 17, but his most significant update is the naming of his Pegasus rider – Frankie Dettori.