Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park has lost a pair of key players to scratches, with Omaha Beach and Spun to Run being removed Thursday morning.
Trainer Richard Mandella notified Gulfstream officials that three-time Grade 1 winner Omaha Beach, who had been installed as the 7-5 on the morning line during Wednesday’s post position draw, won’t run due to a leg injury.
“It was observed this morning that Omaha Beach had light swelling in his right hind fetlock,” Mandella said. “While we are disappointed to have to miss the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Omaha Beach’s safety and well-being comes first and we wanted to do what was best for him. He has been a great pleasure to have around the barn and we are grateful for the opportunity to train such a magnificent horse.”
The Pegasus World Cup was going to be the career finale for Omaha Beach, who is set to enter stud at Spendthrift Farm this year. The son of War Front was exiting a victory in the Dec. 28 Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita.
“We appreciate the willingness of Mr. Mandella to put the safety of Omaha Beach above all else,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President, The Stronach Group. “His decision was the right thing to do and reflects the new standard of care set for this year’s Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series.”
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) hero Spun to Run, the early 7-2 second choice, has been scratched by connections due to a skin rash.
The 1 1/8-mile Pegasus will be run Lasix-free for the first time this year, and the major defections leave four-time graded stakes winner Mucho Gusto as the probable favorite.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who won the first running of the Pegasus World Cup with Arrogate in 2017, Mucho Gusto earned a spot in the Pegasus line-up by impressing connections with his morning preparations at Santa Anita. Irad Ortiz Jr. will pick up the mount on the gray colt.
Pacific Classic (G1) winner Higher Power also rates as a major contender. Third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the 5-year-old has really come on in his last five starts for Hronis Racing and John Sadler. Flavien Prat will be in to ride.
Jim Dandy (G2) and Withers (G3) hero Tax, second as the favorite in the Nov. 30 Discovery (G3) at Aqueduct, also merits consideration. Jose Ortiz will be up for Danny Gargan.
Seeking the Soul split a pair of high-class opponents, City of Light and Accelerate, when rallying for second 34-1 odds in last year’s Pegasus, and the 7-year-old horse will be a longshot in his return engagement (30-1 on morning line). The Dallas Stewart trainee has recorded four consecutive unplaced efforts, including a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, since winning the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs in mid-June.
Completing the field are 8-year-old War Story, who is close to $3 million in earnings following a win in the Dec. 14 Harlan’s Holiday (G3); Diamond Oops, winner of the 7-furlong Mr. Prospector (G3) on Dec. 21; Mr Freeze, who exits a third in the Nov. 29 Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs; True Timber, third in his last three outings against graded foes; Harlan’s Holiday third-placer Bodexpress; and Pimlico Special (G3) winner Tenfold.