July 15, 2024

Pletcher trio bring strong local form into Pegasus World Cup Turf

Largent wins the 2020 Fort Lauderdale (Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photos)

Pegasus World Cup Turf — Race 11 (4:59 p.m. ET)

Colonel Liam is the least experienced entrant in Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), but an authoritative 3 1/4-length win in the Tropical Park Derby and the room he has to improve off that performance has made him the early 7-2 favorite in the 1 3/16-mile event at Gulfstream Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Dec. 26 Tropical Park Derby was the third win in five starts for Colonel Liam, who will be joined in the race by stablemates Largent and Social Paranoia. Largent captured the Dec. 12 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) by two lengths in his most recent outing, while Social Paranoia enters off a Dec. 16 allowance win in his first run since capturing the Poker (G3) in July. Earlier last season, Social Paranoia captured the Appleton (G3) over the Gulfstream turf.

“The good thing for us is they all seem to like this turf course. They all have very good records here,” Pletcher said. “We’re pretty pleased with their final races over this course and the way they’ve been training, and the fact that their records are all good here gives us added optimism.”

Multiple graded stakes winner Anothertwistafate flashed his versatility earlier this month with a 2 1/4-length tally in the San Gabriel (G2) at Santa Anita, his first win on turf and his second in three starts since returning last fall from a 16-month spell.

Among several leading contenders cutting back in trip for the Pegasus is North Dakota, a late-developing half-sibling to leading sire War Front and multiple graded winners Teammate and Ecclesiastic. The Shug McGaughey trainee defeated a good field in the Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct in November in what was only his second stakes appearance.

Say the Word has also come into his own in recent months, capturing the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) at Woodbine in October and then finishing only a length behind Arklow in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar.

Several others in the field have had positive form at the top level in the past though their output will require better. Next Shares, Storm the Court, Aquaphobia, Cross Border, and Pixelate fit that bill, while Breaking the Rules has so far been underwhelming in placing once in three prior stakes attempts.