Archives for January 24, 2020

Pegasus World Cup – More News and Notes

Source: Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – For the first time in 2020, Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series presented by Runhappy will be run free of race-day medications, heralding a new era in the sport of Thoroughbred racing in North America.

The medication-free policy is consistent with the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) standards. Two percent of the purses will go back to Thoroughbred aftercare.

Horsemen competing in both the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) weighed in on the change.

Bob Baffert, Hall of Fame trainer of Pegasus contender Mucho Gusto: “Lasix is probably more important in dirt racing because of the kickback. We have a lot of kickback. In turf racing, they don’t need Lasix on turf because there’s no kickback. It’s going to be interesting. Everybody seems to be leaning that way. It never entered my thought about worrying about that part of it.”

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Pegasus contender True Timber: “You have to compliment Gulfstream Park and The Stronach Group to take a step in that direction; it’s probably overdue that we go with no Lasix and other medications. [True Timber] went to Dubai and ran without medication. He’s an older horse. He should be fine. Like I said, we have to make some changes and they’re making the change.”

Tom Albertrani, trainer of Pegasus Turf contender Sadler’s Joy: “I don’t have a problem with that. I start a lot of my horses without Lasix. It’s something we really use as a preventative, it’s something everyone uses. So, we just want to be on the same level playing field as everyone else, but I don’t think it’s an issue that we have to run on it.”

Romans Could Give Pegasus Rivals Cold Shoulder with Mr Freeze

Going back to Little Mike’s 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) triumph at odds of 17-1 and including Keen Ice’s 16-1 shocker over Triple Crown champion American Pharaoh in the 2015 Travers (G1), trainer Dale Romans has engineered some of racing’s biggest upsets in recent years.

Romans will be looking to play spoiler again Saturday in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) presented by Runhappy with Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s multiple graded-stakes winner Mr Freeze.

The 5-year-old son of To Honor and Serve drew Post 8 and saw his morning line odds drop from 30-1 to 20-1 following Thursday’s scratch of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Spun to Run. Omaha Beach is the even-money program favorite.

“He’s training great. He’s had some really good works and we’re very happy with him. He’s a really live longshot,” Romans said of Mr Freeze. “We’ve upset the apple cart a few times. He’s doing better right now than he’s ever had in his life.”

Mr Freeze went unraced at 2 before winning three of his first four starts as a 3-year-old, capped by an eight-length romp in the West Virginia Derby (G3), contested at the Pegasus’ 1 1/8-mile distance. He got the rest of 2018 off after running eighth in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), returning on the grass in Gulfstream’s Tropical Turf (G3) last January.

After being both fractious in the gate and bothered during the race, Mr Freeze finished seventh and went to the sidelines. He returned seven months later to be second in an Ellis Park optional claimer, then won the one-mile Ack Ack (G3) and capped 2019 by running second in the Fayette (G2) and third in the Clark (G1), both at 1 1/8 miles.

“He had a really good 3-year-old year. He won the West Virginia Derby and ran really fast. When he turned 4, he had a little issue and we had to give him some time. He came back and ran big at Ellis Park and won the stake at Churchill. He was third in the Grade 1 last time, so he’s going in the right direction,” Romans said. “The key to the whole thing is just doing well at the time. You have to be talented horse to even get here, and now you’ve just got to be on your game and doing the best you can.”

Two-time Championship Meet leading jockey Luis Saez will ride Mr Freeze for Romans, competing in the Pegasus for the third time in its four-year history. Prayer for Relief ran 10th in 2017 and Singing Bullet was 11th in 2018.

“We missed last year, but we’ve been part of the rest of them. Just to be here and be a part of it is a big deal,” Romans said. “You want to compete at the highest level in this game, and this allows me to do it. It’s one thing to compete, but we want to get the money.”

Stewart Hoping Third Time the Charm for Seeking the Soul

For the third straight winter, well-traveled Seeking the Soul will open his season in the same race – Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) presented by Runhappy. Having improved his finish each year, continuing the trend in 2019 would land the now 7-year-old in the winner’s circle.

Trained by Dallas Stewart for breeder-owner Charles Fipke, Seeking the Soul ran fifth behind Horse of the Year Gun Runner in his 2018 debut. He was a distant but decisive runner-up last year, beaten 5 ¾ lengths by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light but 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Preakness (G1) runner-up Bravazo.

“He ran second last year to a great horse,” Stewart said. “He came back and had a big win in the Stephen Foster [G2], he’s healthy and he’s ready to go.”

Stewart has been impressed with how Seeking the Soul is coming into the race this year, off three sharp works at the winter base at Fair Grounds. Most recently, the son of Perfect Soul went five furlongs in 1:00 Jan. 17, the fastest of 27 horses at the distance.

“This horse is always doing good, but he’s had a couple really good works as of late,” Stewart said. “He worked three-quarters in [1:12 Jan. 10] and followed it up going in a minute. He’s feeling good, he’s galloping good, so we’ll see.”

Over the course of his career, Seeking the Soul has compiled seven wins, six seconds, seven thirds and more than $3.4 million in purse earnings from 31 starts. In addition to last summer’s Foster, he owns graded wins in the 2018 Ack Ack (G3) and 2017 Clark Handicap (G1) and has placed in six others including the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

“He’s made close to $3.5 million,” Stewart said, “so maybe he’ll add some more millions to that.”

Hall of Famer John Velazquez rides Seeking the Soul from Post 4. They are listed at 30-1 on the morning line.

“He’s just a warrior. He’s 7 and I could picture him running a couple more years,” Stewart said. “If that happens, I don’t know, but I can see it happening.”

Enable Unlikely to Race before Royal Ascot

“Every sport needs champions and she’s been amazing, Dettori said. “She’s captured not just racing’s imagination, but she’s attracted other people to watch the sport.”

The Guardian:  Enable is unlikely to begin her fifth racing season until Royal Ascot at the earliest, with her campaign being planned entirely around a return to Longchamp in October in search of an elusive third win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, John Gosden, the mare’s trainer, said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the annual Longines World’s Best Racehorse ceremony in London, Gosden said that “June time, Royal Ascot” is the obvious place for the six-year-old to start what seems almost certain to be her final year on the track.

“If you aim for the autumn, you don’t want to be starting in the spring,” Gosden said. “We aimed at Ascot last year and ended up running in the Eclipse [in July]. We’ll see how she is make the decision together, but the final thing is that the decision will be taken by the filly herself.”

Enable’s defeat when favourite for last year’s Arc was the only significant reverse in what was otherwise the best season of Frankie Dettori’s three decades in the saddle, and he is eager to be back aboard a horse whose performances at times rendered him almost speechless with emotion in 2019.


A look back at Paul Nicholls’ four Gold Cup wins – can he make it five?

In the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, one trainer stands above the rest with their record number of wins. Tom Dreaper famously won a trio of races in the 1960s with Arkle, but his first win came in 1946 when Prince Regent was the favourite. He went on to have further success with Fort Leney in 1968, bringing his total number of Gold Cup wins to five.

Of all the currently active trainers, Paul Nicholls holds four Gold Cup titles and is one win away from sharing Dreaper’s record. But can Nicholls make it five? Let’s take a look back at his Gold Cup success and his chances in this year’s race.

2020: Clan des Obeaux or Frodon?

This year, Nicholls rests his hopes on two eight year olds: Clan des Obeaux and Frodon, and betting odds ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup price the former at the better price of 9/1, while Frodon can be found as an outside chance at 25/1. The early favourite at the time of writing is last year’s winner, Al Boum Photo, trained by Willie Mullins.

Clan des Obeaux came fifth in last year’s race, but is in reasonable form, having recently won the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day by 21 lengths. Frodon will be making his Gold Cup debut, but won last year’s Festival Trophy. Earlier this month, the gelding ridden by Bryony Frost won the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton, making a swift return to form.

2009: Kauto Star

Nicholls’ last success came in 2009, when the legendary Kauto Star made history in becoming the first horse to regain the Gold Cup. Rode by Ruby Walsh, Kauto Star beat stablemate Denman to the finish line by some 13 lengths – and no other horse could come close. It was a return to form for the pre-race favourite, who had been beaten in the previous year’s race. And it could have been a trio of placed-finishes for Nicholls, but for Exotic Dancer securing third, ahead of Neptune Collonges.

2008: Denman

The 2008 Gold Cup saw Nicholls famously orchestrate a winning one-two-three, as Denman got one over on Kauto Star, ensuring the horse didn’t secure back-to-back races for the first time since Best Mate in 2003-04. Neptune Collonges completed the placing. Denman took the lead as early as the eleventh fence and never looked like relinquishing his advantage – going on to win by seven lengths. Many were expecting a close race between Denman and Kauto Star, but it never materialised and the previous year’s winner only made up ground with three fences to jump.

2007: Kauto Star

Kauto Star secured his first win in the Gold Cup on his debut, but it could have been oh-so different for Nicholls’ horse. Exotic Dancer was the pre-race favourite, but was eventually beaten by two-and-a-half lengths. Kauto Star had come from behind and came into his own on the second lap. With four fences remaining, he chased the leading pack before taking the lead with two fences left to jump. But after hitting the final fence, the win was in doubt. However, he stayed on strongly to reach the finish line first.

1999: See More Business

1999 was a breakthrough year for Nicholls at the Cheltenham Festival, where he won a trio of races. After success in the Arkle Challenge Trophy and Queen Mother Champion Chase, he went on to win the Gold Cup with See More Business. The Irish-bred gelding had previously won the King George VI Chase that season, but despite that, was by no means the favourite going into the Cheltenham centrepiece. The 16/1 hopeful hadn’t started well and it wasn’t until the final fence that he soon led, with one length separating See More Business from second-placed Go Ballistic.