Accelerate, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and is heavily favored to be named 2018 champion older male at Thursday’s Eclipse Awards ceremony, drew post 5. Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light will break from post 3 in the 1 1/8-mile race that caps a 12-race, stakes-laden program.
Both Accelerate and City of Light are making their final career starts in the Pegasus before embarking on stud careers at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. Accelerate was made the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Pegasus, a race won by post-time favorites Arrogate and Gun Runner the past two years. City of Light was installed as the 5-2 second choice.
The Pegasus serves as a rubber match between the two, with City of Light having come out on top in the Oaklawn H. (G2) last April and Accelerate proving superior in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) last May.
The Classic and Gold Cup were among six stakes wins for Accelerate, who also captured the Pacific Classic (G1), Santa Anita H. (G1), Awesome Again (G1), and San Pasqual. He is a finalist for Horse of the Year honors, though retired Triple Crown winner Justify is favored to win.
In addition to the Dirt Mile and Oaklawn H., City of Light also registered a victory last season in the seven-furlong Triple Bend (G1) at Santa Anita. His first Grade 1 tally occurred in the 2017 Malibu (G1).
Also lining up in the world’s richest dirt race is Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Gunnevera, a distant third in last year’s Pegasus behind Gun Runner and West Coast. Grade 1 veteran Seeking the Soul also takes his second shot at the World Cup after running fifth last year. The Dallas Stewart trainee ended 2018 by finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and third in his title defense of the Clark H. (G1).
Cigar Mile (G1) winner Patternrecognition was not so fortunate at the post position draw as he will break from post 12. Cigar Mile runner-up True Timber fared better getting post 7.
Last year’s classic generation will be represented by Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible and Risen Star (G2) victor Bravazo. Audible later ran third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but was a below-par second in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) in his prep last month. Bravazo was a consistent check-getter last season, placing in the Preakness (G1), Haskell Invitational (G1), Travers (G1), Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and Clark in an 11-race campaign for D. Wayne Lukas.
Louisiana invader Tom’s d’Etat, campaigned by New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson, rides in on a four-race win streak that includes a stakes debut score in the $75,000 Tenacious at Fair Grounds. Something Awesome captured the 2018 editions of the Charles Town Classic (G2) and General George (G3), while nine-year-old Imperative is far removed from the form that led him to victory in the 2014 and 2017 renewals of the Charles Town Classic. Mexican star Kukulkan is undefeated from 14 starts but has never faced a field of this quality before.