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.”

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 17-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the 2018 NHC Tour with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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