July 21, 2024

National Treasure turns back Senor Buscador in Pegasus World Cup

National Treasure wins The Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park
National Treasure outlasted Senor Buscador to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Nicole Thomas)

After recording a nose second to Cody’s Wish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), National Treasure opened his four-year-old season with a determined victory in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

Flavien Prat was up on the 2.60-1 favorite for Bob Baffert, who recorded his third win in the eight-year history of the Pegasus World Cup, and National Treasure prompted the pace until the conclusion of the far turn, surging to a clear lead in upper stretch. Senor Buscador closed from the back of the pack to make it interesting late, but National Treasure withstood the late challenge by a neck.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Flavien Prat because he just rode the horse excellent,” assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said. “He got plenty of instructions today. At the end, when we finally gave him a leg up, I said, ‘just get him out of the gate. Put him in the race.’ He was able to give him a breather down the back side. We knew it was going to be a hot pace. He had stepped up. He had been running against good horses, so we knew how good he was.”

Twice Grade 1-placed as a juvenile, National Treasure broke through with his first stakes win in last year’s Preakness (G1), leading all the way to score by a head. But he did not carry his form forward after the middle leg of the Triple Crown, finishing sixth in the Belmont (G1), fifth in the Travers (G1), and fourth in the Awesome Again (G1).

The son of Quality Road appeared to turn a corner in the Dirt Mile, easily registering a career-best 109 Brisnet Speed rating after just missing against the eventual Horse of the Year, and National Treasure confirmed himself as one of the leading older horses in 2024 with the game Pegasus win.

“Really what a gutty little horse,” Barnes said. “That’s the way he wants to run like that (on the front end), and he really shows up.”

Cigar Mile (G2) romper Hoist the Gold sprinted forward at the break to establish opening splits in :23.18, :46.32, and 1:11:21 while being chased on the outside by National Treasure, who took over while straightening for home and opened a 2 1/2-length advantage through a mile in 1:37.07. The winner finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.51.

Senor Buscador, who rated in 11th through the opening half-mile as the 8.90-1 fourth choice, rallied dramatically to just miss, winding up 4 1/2 lengths better than Crupi, who rallied from last at 34-1 to be a clear third. It was another six lengths to Hoist the Gold, who was followed by O’Connor, Il Miracolo, Dynamic One, Nimitz Class, 2.80-1 second choice First Mission, Trademark, Grand Aspen, and Skippylongstocking.

Bred in Kentucky by Peter Blum Thoroughbreds, National Treasure was purchased for $500,000 as a yearling at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August sale. The bay colt is the second stakes winner from the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure, and National Treasure has now earned $3,322,000 from a 11-3-2-2 career record.