Pegasus Races Future Book

The first marquee occasion of the year in the US is approaching fast, with the three big races at the Pegasus World Cup meeting at Gulfstream Park set to bring 2023 to life. Major players such as Cyberknife, Proxy, Defunded, Colonel Liam, City Man, Dalika and Wakanaka will be sprinkling their stardust over this prestigious occasion, with the final list of invitees made known on Wednesday and the post positions drawn on Sunday. Here our Pegasus Races Future Book Preview

Pegasus World Cup Invitational

G1, $3,000,000, 1m 1f dirt, 4yo+, Gulfstream Park, January 28

The Pegasus World Cup, the centrepiece of what might be viewed as a mini-Breeders’ Cup card at Gulfstream Park in ten days’ time, brings together six G1 winners in a fascinating contest for a huge purse.

The main spotlight shines on Cyberknife, having his final start before being retired to stud. He won the G1 Arkansas Derby and G1 Haskell Invitational at this mile-eighth distance last year, and arguably performed even better when runner-up – beaten only a head – to Cody’s Wish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on his most recent start, with Simplification, whose three wins have all come at Gulfstream but who is on a seven-race losing streak, a never-dangerous seventh.

California shippers form a triple threat, with Defunded easily the best-fancied following his gate-to-wire score in the G1 Awesome Again and an easy victory in the G3 Native Diver, both at a mile-eighth. He is in the form of his life and has a class edge over fellow Golden State contenders Stilleto Boy, third in this race 12 months ago but only three-for-19 lifetime, and G1 Cigar Mile runner-up Get Her Number, who may not be best served by stretching out his speed.

Another at his peak is Proxy, who made his stakes breakthrough after several near misses in the G1 Clark over a mile-eighth at Churchill Downs Racetrack, his first start after a five-month layoff, with Last Samurai never a threat in fourth. This is a tougher task but Proxy is a slow burner who may have more in the tank.

Saffie Joseph sends three to the gate with Skippylongstocking, winner of the G3 Harlan’s Holiday here over a mile-sixteenth, with barnmate O’Connor a potentially unlucky fourth as favourite after losing a shoe, marginally favoured by the odds-makers. They will be joined by White Abarrio, winner of the G1 Florida Derby over course and distance in April but winless since, although he is unbeaten in four starts here and will likely move up for the return to his own backyard.

Pegasus World Cup Invitational Future Book

White Abarrio+1000
Art Collector+1500
Get Her Number+1500
Stilleto Boy+3000

Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational

G1, $1,000,000, 1m 1f turf, 4yo+, Gulfstream Park, January 28

The supporting feature on Pegasus day is the World Cup Turf, which offers the possibility of something special as Colonel Liam bids for a three-peat following his victories in the last two runnings of the race.

He would be a solid favourite had he not run one of the worst races of his life in the G2 Ft. Lauderdale over course and distance last time, flattening out in the stretch as though something was missing and trailing in sixth. He’s four-for-six here but there has to be a doubt about him now.

Ft. Lauderdale first and second City Man and Decorated Invader will again be a potent force for trainer Christophe Clement, the barnmates separated by a length and a half. City Man has won four of his last five and is firmly on the upgrade, and there’s no knowing how much further he’ll progress.

The extra yardage may not suit future-book favourite Ivar, whose best form has been when third and fourth in the last two editions of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, while his fellow Brazilian-bred barnmate In Love is also proficient at a mile and failed to recapture his fine 2021 form during last year. Conversely, the Chilean-bred Master Piece is cutting back after consecutive runner-up spots in the G2 Del Mar Handicap over a mile and three-eighths.

Speaking Scout and Wit renew rivalry after running first and third in the mile-eighth G1 Hollywood Derby, doing their best work in the latter stages with a length between them at the line. This is deeper water now, as it is for Woodbine specialists Who’s The Star and Lady Speightspeare, a longshot third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last time but still to make her breakthrough in the lower 48.

Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Future Book

City Man+350
Colonel Liam+350
Decorated Invader+800
Master Piece+800
Lady Speightspeare+1200
Speaking Scout+1500
Who’s The Star+2000
In Love+2200
Law Professor+2400

Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational

G3, $500,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 4yo+ females, Gulfstream Park, January 28

There is an open look to the Filly & Mare Turf, with no stand-out candidate among a host of classy distaffers with strong recent form.

The main talking point is a rematch between Dalika and Perseverancia, who filled the exacta in the mile-eighth G3 Cardinal at Churchill Downs in November, Dalika going coast-to-coast and holding off the hard-charging runner-up by a length and three-quarters. It was a further showcasing of the talent that won Dalika the G1 Beverly D three months earlier and something of a breakthrough for Perseverancia, who has only ever won at Woodbine.

The Toronto track was also the venue when Wakanaka – sixth in this race 12 months ago on her Stateside debut – notched her only win at North American Graded level in the G2 Dance Smartly. Last time out she came late to win a stakes at Keeneland over a mile with Stolen Holiday fourth, Shantisara fifth and Dalika last of the six runners.

Stolen Holiday bounced back from that defeat with arguably a career-best when winning the G3 Suwannee River here over a mile, rallying hard to win by a length from Lady Rockstar, with long-time leader Bay Storm a length and a half back in third and the favoured Scotish Star fading in the stretch, finishing sixth.

That Keeneland stakes was Shantisara’s first start for almost seven months and she needed it. Her previous form, when winning the G1 QEII Challenge Cup and finishing second in the G1 Jenny Wiley, both at Keeneland, entitles her to plenty of respect here.

California girl Queen Goddess ships in off a dominant wire-to-wire win in the G3 Robert J Frankel at a mile-eighth, and would be a danger to all if getting her own way on the lead again.

Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational Future Book

Queen Goddess+500
Stolen Holiday+600
Lady Rockstar+900
Artie’s Princess+1500
Kate’s Kingdom+1500
Bay Storm+2000
Scotish Star+2000

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