HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The Stronach Group continues to improve its made-for-TV Pegasus World Cup day by adding top caliber racing to its late January dance card.
This year the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf race was added to be run at 1 3/16-miles for a huge $7 million purse. A field of 10 is scheduled to leave the gate at 4:57 p.m. ET from the South Florida track as Race 11 of the 12-race card.
Headlined by Yoshida (5-2), Catapult (7-2) and Euro invader Magic Wand (9-2), the race is shaping up to be quite the set up to precede Saturday’s third annual $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
The Turf will be part of a 90-minute live telecast by NBC Sports (Ch. 2), the flagship network, starting at 4:30 p.m. EST.
Here’s a look at the entries for the Pegasus World Cup Turf (post position, horse, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):
1 – Magic Wand (O’Brien, Lordan, 9-2). The daughter of Gailileo goes up against the boys in her second straight race in the U.S. She finished a decent fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in her first ever race across the pond. The Aidan O’Brien filly faced a solid field that day and will have her work cut out for her against this group, but she’s a classy gal who should get better with age. Solid contender.
2 – Yoshida (Mott, Ortiz, 5-2). Son of Heart’s Cry returns to his favored turf surface after having some success on the dirt winning the Woodward at Saratoga and finishing fourth in the Classic, a mere 1 3/4-lengths behind Accelerate. He loves to come from behind, but it may be asking a lot on this turf surface. Based on pure class, he’s the one to beat.
3 – Channel Maker (Mott, Castellano, 12-1). Mott’s second entry in the race has Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard. The English Channel gelding was my pick in the 2017 Queen’s Plate and is the only Ontario-bred in the field. Was a no-show at the Breeders’ Cup, but has some solid form in the races leading up to his weak effort at Churchill. He hasn’t hit the board in two career races at Gulfstream and he’s in deeper waters here.
4 – Aerolithe (Kikuzawa, Geroux, 8-1). Japanese-bred mare stretches out to a distance she hasn’t run in over a year. Wild card in the field and for that reason alone, its best to keep your distance. Has a Group 1 win at a mile on her resume, but this seems like a pretty steep climb. Pass.
5 – Next Shares (Baltas, Gaffalione, 15-1). Baltas ships in the 6-year-old gelding from the west coast and hits at a 14 percent clip when shipping in. He looks more like a miler to me on paper, although he won a Grade 2 at 9-furlongs last time out. Could figure underneath in the exotics.
6 – Fahan Mura (Cerin, Maldanado, 30-1). Front running son of English Channel’s best chance is to head to the lead and stay there. It’s the last 16th that I’m worried about, but could be lone speed and he wouldn’t be the first to get away at Gulfstream. Has shown flashes of speed numbers that figure. Longshot pick, but keying him in second or third might be the play.
7 – Bricks and Mortar (Brown, Ortiz, Jr., 5-1). Lightly raced 5-year-old for Chad has a win over Yoshida in the 2017 Hall of Fame at Saratoga. Came back to finish second in an allowance after a 14-month layoff. Chad hits at 23 percent second off the layoff and is 61 percent in-the-money with the same. Can’t overlook that he’s 2-for-2 over the course as well. Dangerous.
8 – Delta Prince (Jerkens, Dettori, 15-1). Trainer Jimmy Jerkens convinced world class jock Frankie Dettori to ride the son of Street Cry out of an A.P. Indy mare. He takes the blinkers off after a dismal showing at Aqueduct in November.
9– Catapult (Sadler, Rosario, 7-2). Son of Kitten’s Joy was the BC Mile runner-up to Expert Eye at Churchill last November. Would be a stretch out in distance he has never run, but his pedigree shouldn’t have issues with the added route of ground. Sharp workout on his tab on Jan. 19 at Santa Anita for a trainer who will be looking for the Pegasus sweep with this one and Accelerate. In the mix.
10 – Dubby Dubbie (Hess, Jr., Panici, 30-1). Long shot son of Ice Box, the 2010 Derby runner-up. Was drubbed in the Grade 1 Secretariat at the distance last summer. Would be an upset of major proportions if he won.
Post Time Outlook: 1 –Bricks and Mortar; 2 –Yoshida; 3 –Fahan Mura; 4 – Catapult
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.