HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — The final pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place for the third running of the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.
Hot favorite, Accelerate and market rival City Of Light are both on course for the nine furlong $9 million spectacular.
The inaugural running of the Pegasus in 2017 was billed as a clash of the Titans with California Chrome matched with Arrogate. Unfortunately California Chrome did not run his race but Arrogate set a new track record as he blazed to a five lengths victory. Last year the Pegasus was chosen as the swansong for 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner. Steve Asmussen’s five-year-old went out in style with a game victory over West Coast and Gunnevera.
Accelerate overcame a wide barrier draw to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November. Joel Rosario always kept the leaders within his sights and struck the front with over a furlong to travel. Gunnevera had been well off the pace before running on strongly to be beaten a length in second place.
The favorite that day was Bob Baffert’s McKinzie but he faded rapidly approaching the home turn. He bounced back to form with an impressive victory in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 but is not yet a certain runner at Gulfstream Park. Baffert is also considering the Grade 2 Pasqual Stakes on Feb. 2 for the son of Street Sense.
There are no such concerns for City Of Light, a familiar rival for Accelerate. City Of Light was always travelling best when beating Accelerate by a neck in the Oaklawn Handicap in April. The placings were reversed in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita the following month. City Of Light returned to winning ways in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when making all the running to beat Seeking The Soul by two and three-quarter lengths.
Connections of Gunnevera will be optimistic of improving on last year’s third after his excellent run behind Accelerate at Churchill Downs. He does tend to get behind in his races and will need a fast pace to bring his stamina into play. Audible burst into the Kentucky Derby picture a year ago when winning the Florida Derby for Todd Pletcher. He ran a big race to finish third behind Justify but injury forced him to miss the remaining Triple Crown races. He was beaten at long odds-on in his prep race in December where he was always struggling in the sloppy conditions.
Patternrecognition earned a tilt at this valuable prize when winning the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. Bravazo is no stranger to these big races having run in all three Triple Crown events and the Breeders’ Cup Mile last season. His best effort was a staying on second to Justify at Pimlico in the Preakness.
The Pegasus is given an International flavor by the entry of Mexican Triple Crown winner Kukulkan, ridden by Frankie Dettori. The son of Point Determined remains undefeated in 14 races, most recently winning the $300,000 Caribbean Classic. That race was confined to Latin American horses and time analysts give the son of Point Determined no chance. That is reflected in his price which is as high as 100-1 in places!
The maximum 12 runner line-up is likely to be completed by Something Awesome, True Timber and Toms Detat. We will publish a full runner-by-runner guide next week so that you have everything you need to bet the Pegasus Cup.
In order to attract the world’s top turf horses, the race organizers have introduced the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational with a prize purse of $7 million. Japan’s Yoshida and Aerolithe dominate the betting market for this race with Ireland’s Magic Wand also among the entries.
Television coverage of the meeting begins at 4.30 p.m. EST on NBC with both races streamed live on www.NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App.
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