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Post Time: Magic Wand returns in Pegasus Turf with eye on the prize

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- The second annual Pegasus World Cup Turf has a tough act to follow after Bricks and Mortar, the 2019 Horse of the Year, won the inaugural race.

This year’s Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf race will be run at 1 3/16-miles for a $1 million purse, a reduction from last year’s $7 million. A full field of 12, with one also eligible, is scheduled to leave the gate at 4:49 p.m. ET from the South Florida track as Race 11 of the 12-race card.

Headlined by Euro invader Magic Wand (7-2) and three Chad Brown trainees, the race is shaping up to be quite the set up to precede Saturday’s fourth annual $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.

The Turf will be part of a 90-minute live telecast by NBC Sports, the flagship network, starting at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s a look at the entries for the Pegasus World Cup Turf (post position, horse, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):

1 – Zulu Alpha (Maker, Gaffalione, 12-1). The 7-year-old gelded son of Street Cry comes off a solid performance in the BC Turf, finishing a mere length and three-quarters behind Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar coming with a late run for trainer Mike Maker. The trainer is pretty solid off the layoff and Gaffalione has been riding well at Gulfstream and knows the course well. Could surprise at a price coming on late.

2 – Arklow (Cox, Saez, 6-1). Was caught wide in the Turf and ran out of gas. Castellano jumps off to ride Sadler’s Joy, so Saez gets the nod for Cox. Likes to go longer, but has a win out of two starts at the distance and will be making his Gulfstream debut. Others figure more prominently.

3 – Without Parole (Brown, Dettori, 4-1). Top choice from the Brown brigade who was third-place finisher in the BC Mile behind Uni and Get Stormy after a long layoff. Will be his second start on American soil and should be acclimated to the South Florida weather after training at nearby Palm Meadows since November. Pedigree suggests the longer distance shouldn’t be an issue. Dangerous.

4 – Sadler’s Joy (Albertrani, Castellano, 8-1). Javier jumps aboard the old warhorse looking to add to an already impressive resume. The 7-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy comes off a win in the Red Smith at Aqueduct and his late closing style always makes him a factor. Have to appreciate Castellano staying aboard with a bevy of Brown horses in the race. Do not discount.

5 – Channel Cat (Pletcher, Velazquez, 10-1). Long time connections have won their share of big races. Johnny V jumps back aboard for the second straight race after Saez has rode him the previous five races. His form isn’t as bad as his past few finishes may indicate and Pletcher wins at a 26 percent clip after having a beaten favorite.

6 – Instilled Regard (Brown, Ortiz, Jr., 10-1). Horse on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail transitioned to the turf after a trainer change to Brown from Jerry Hollendorfer. Captured his first turf win on the Gulfstream grass in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale last month over Admission Office and Channel Cat. Eclipse-winning jockey Ortiz, Jr. is in the irons for the best turf trainer in the land and he’ll be a price. Considering.

7 – Admission Office (Lynch, Prat, 30-1). Son of Point of Entry ran second in the Lauderdale in his first effort over the course. Will be stepping into much deeper waters with this field, but he has a top turf jock aboard who has been in-the-money 60 percent of his last 416 races on the grass. He’ll need his biggest effort to date to compete with this group.

8 – Henley’s Joy (Maker, Leparoux, 30-1). Surprise winner of the Belmont Derby last summer at 20-1 wasn’t able to back up that effort since, missing the board in his last five races. Seems up against it over this crew and would be a shocking upset if he crossed the wire first.

9– Next Shares (Baltas, Valdivia, Jr., 30-1). This 7-year-old son of Archarcharch rebounded to win the G2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar in November, but his speed numbers don’t quite match up with the best of this bunch. Finished seventh in last year’s Turf Cup on a miserable rainy day. Pass.

10 – Mo Forza (Miller, Rosario, 5-1) Late maturing son of Uncle Mo is on a four-race win streak with graded wins in the last three efforts after finally breaking his maiden in September. Formidable win candidate to kickoff his 4-year-old campaign shipping in from California for Peter Miller. Outside post isn’t ideal but he should be in the mix.

11 – Sacred Life (Brown, Ortiz, 12-1) After coming to America last spring, he reeled off three straight solid efforts winning an allowance at Saratoga. His last effort didn’t exactly exude confidence finishing behind Next Shares, but the added distance for his late closing style could make him more of a factor if you draw a line through the Seabiscuit where he waited too long to make his move. Interesting.

12 – Magic Wand (O’Brien, Moore, 7-2) Aiden O’Brien returns with the daughter of Galileo for another shot at the Pegasus Turf after last year’s second-place finish behind Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar. The 5-year-old Irish import has had a bad case of the seconds at the distance with seven runner-up finishes in nine tries. World class jockey Ryan Moore will ride. The tepid favorite looks like the one to beat.

13 (AE) – Tusk (Joseph, Lopez, 30-1) Son of Tapit will need a scratch to draw into the race. Local trainer Joseph has been red hot winning at a 27 percent clip at Gulfstream and comes into the race off a Grade 3 win on the track.

Post Time Outlook:  1 –Magic Wand; 2 –Instilled Regard; 3 –Mo Forza; 4 – Sacred Life

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf --writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

Race 11 $1 M Pegasus World Cup Turf - 1 3/16-miles 4:49 ET
PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML odds
1 Zulu Alpha Maker Gaffalione 12-1
2 Arklow Cox Saez 6-1
3 Without Parole Brown Dettori 4-1
4 Sadler's Joy Albertrani Castellano 8-1
5 Channel Cat Pletcher Velazquez 10-1
6 Instilled Regard Brown Ortiz, Jr. 10-1
7 Admission Office Lynch Prat 30-1
8 Henley's Joy Maker Leparoux 30-1
9 Next Shares Baltas Valdivia, Jr. 30-1
10 Mo Forza Miller Rosario 5-1
11 Sacred Life Brown Ortiz 12-1
12 Magic Wand O'Brien Moore 7-2
AE Tusk Joseph Jr. Lopez 30-1

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