March 27, 2023

Pneumatic emphatic in Road to Kentucky Derby finale in Pegasus

Pneumatic won the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

The Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby concluded with an eminently formful result in Saturday’s $155,000 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, as 4-5 favorite Pneumatic ran out a convincing winner. Most recently fourth to Tiz the Law in the Belmont S. (G1), the Steve Asmussen trainee gave the hot Derby favorite another boost ahead of the first Saturday in September.

Pneumatic enjoyed a clear stalking trip with “Jersey” Joe Bravo. The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred was perched in striking range of pacesetter Arkaan, who carved out fractions of :24.17 and :48.28 in his stakes and two-turn debut. Rounding the far turn, Pneumatic inhaled the leader after 6 furlongs in 1:12.80 and appeared on the verge of turning the Pegasus into a blowout.

Then 4-1 second choice Jesus’ Team, the other with useful Grade 1 form as the fourth in the Haskell (G1) at this track, launched a sustained move to reduce the gap. The hard-trying runner-up didn’t get close enough to pose a serious threat, but he finished with great credit just 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

Pneumatic negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.76 to bank 20 Derby points. Added to his 15 from the Belmont, and 10 from his third in the Matt Winn (G3), he now has a total of 45 points that lands him 11th on the leaderboard.

Jesus’ Team’s 8 points, combined with his 10 from the Haskell, bring him up to 18 points. That’s right on the bubble as the 21st on the leaderboard. If star filly Swiss Skydiver sticks as expected with the Kentucky Oaks (G1) rather than tackling the Derby, Jesus’ Team will make the field – but connections would have to supplement since he’s not Triple Crown-nominated.

Arkaan was easily third best, good for 4 points, and eight lengths ahead of Super John who received 2 points in fourth. Next at intervals came Wartime Hero, Big City Bob, Skyscanner, and As Seen on TV.

Pneumatic’s first stakes win enhanced his record to 5-3-0-1, $256,850. Unraced at two, the dark bay climbed the ladder fast at Oaklawn this spring, progressing from a debut sprint win to a handy allowance score over a mile. The Matt Winn was no easy spot to take a class hike, but he responded well in a gritty third to Maxfield and Ny Traffic. Pneumatic again acquitted himself respectably in the Belmont, beaten 7 3/4 lengths by Tiz the Law.

By champion Uncle Mo, the Kentucky-bred is the first foal from the stakes-placed Tapit mare Teardrop, a full sister to Grade 3 winner War Echo and Dubai Group 1-placed stakes scorer Farrier. Teardrop is also a three-quarter sister to Grade 1-winning millionaire Pyro, who captured the 2008 Louisiana Derby (G2) on the Triple Crown trail for the same connections.