Saturday’s $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park could be billed as a rematch of the Nov. 5 Fall Harvest S. at Keeneland. Wakanaka prevailed in that Breeders’ Cup card nightcap, as Grade 1 winners Shantisara and Dalika both ran well below form. The imported trio will renew rivalry on Pegasus Day, and Shantisara has been tabbed as the 2-1 favorite to rebound.
One of Chad Brown’s stable stars, Shantisara burst onto the scene during her 2021 sophomore campaign, crowned by a five-length romp in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1). She returned to action over the same Keeneland course for the Apr. 16 Jenny Wiley (G1), where she was second to razor-sharp stablemate Regal Glory. Unfortunately, Shantisara was vanned off and sidelined. Not seen again until the Fall Harvest, she went off as the even-money choice, only to wind up a lackluster fifth.
Dalika has already proven the Fall Harvest form all wrong. The Al Stall Jr. mare came right back to wire the Nov. 24 Cardinal (G3) at Churchill Downs, also the scene of her signature win in the Aug. 13 Beverly D. (G1). With her free-wheeling style, Dalika figures to find Gulfstream’s turf congenial, although there is other speed on tap. Perseverancia, who launched a bold rally as the Cardinal runner-up, would welcome the pace support.
Wakanaka was herself bouncing back in the Fall Harvest after a subpar seventh versus elite males in the Woodbine Mile (G1). The Bill Mott runner had been mixing it up in top company all season, winning the Dance Smartly (G2) and placing to the likes of Regal Glory and In Italian. While Wakanaka was sixth in the 2022 edition of this race, she was set an awfully tough task in her U.S. debut off a layoff. She had not raced since scoring in the Premio Regina Elena (Italian 1000 Guineas) (G3) in April 2021. Saturday’s renewal, by comparison, is a very feasible spot.
Still, the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf isn’t a three-horse race. The Michael McCarthy-trained Queen Goddess probably prefers a longer distance than 1 1/16 miles, but the Grade 1 veteran must be respected after running way with the 1 1/8-mile Robert J. Frankel (G3). Lady Rockstar, who looked bound for the top last summer, resumed with a promising second in the Suwannee River (G3) for Brendan Walsh. Suwannee River third Bay Storm had missed by a nose, in her prior start, to world-class Campanelle at Kentucky Downs.
Roger Attfield’s British blueblood Sweet Enough comes off a sharp course-and-distance allowance score, while Paulo Lobo’s Brazilian-bred Justify My Love won a similar event at Churchill Nov. 19. Artie’s Princess, a past Canadian champion sprinter, hopes to transfer her form in all-weather dashes to a turf route. Mona Stella, a staying-on second in the Jan. 14 Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf, concludes the field.