Pegasus Fallout (almost)
-The Pegasus World Cup races were held this past Saturday at a socially distanced Gulfstream Park. The on-track results weren’t surprising for the most part (Pacific Gale notwithstanding) but the biggest story coming out of the weekend was not either of the two favorites that won the co-features, Colonel Liam or Knicks Go, but the spectacular emergence of a 1st time starter in the 6th race named Prevalence. A 3 year old son of Medaglia d’Oro, trained by the solid Brendan Walsh for Godolphin, Prevalence crushed a well regarded field of high dollar maidens under little urging from jockey Tyler Gaffalione. He was prominent from the start, taking control of the race from the inside going past the 1/2 mile pole, shrugged off a brief challenge from close second choice Stage Raider on the turn and just cruised home, taken in hand the last 30 yards, stopping the timer in 1:23 for the 7f. In the past a late January maiden breaker would be considered a long shot for the first Saturday in May but in the 2021 world you’d better keep tabs on where Prevalence shows up next.
-The Pegasus Turf looked like a competitive race on paper, somewhat due to the fact that the older male turf division is bereft of star horses at the top as it was last season with the relatively ordinary campaign of Channel Maker (7 wins out of 37 career starts / 2 wins of 8 starts in 2020) likely to be rewarded Thursday night with an Eclipse Award. It turns out that two late developing horses from the Todd Pletcher barn, the winner Colonel Liam and runner up, beaten only a neck, Largent might be ready to fill that void. Largent was exiting the Ft Lauderdale, a grade 2 at the same 1 1/8 distance over the Gulfstream course, where he showed a new, one run closer style in his first graded stakes start. He had previously been carefully handled, mostly racing up close to or on the pace in restricted company (he is a Virginia bred) in the mid-Atlantic region, mostly against overmatched foes. Pletcher did an excellent training job in letting this gelded son of Into Mischief develop against the softer competition and might have pulled it off had it not been for a younger, later developing horse that just happens to be Largent’s stablemate in Colonel Liam. That gray son of the Pletcher trained Liam’s Map was a gaudy 1.2 million dollar purchase by Robert and Lawana Low out of the 2019 OBS April 2 year old in training sale. Colonel Liam broke his maiden at Gulfstream back last April when he was placed first after being bumped hard in the stretch. He didn’t win again till July at Saratoga in an allowance race which was also his first start on the grass. After a close 4th against the division leaders in the Saratoga Derby in August, he didn’t start again until impressively inhaling the field down the lane in the Tropical Park Derby at GP in late December. Sent off at the 5-2 favorite in the Pegasus Turf, his first time against older horses, Colonel Liam rallied strongly under Iraq Ortiz to nail his barn mate right before hitting the wire. Winning a grade 1 race against older horses in just his 6th lifetime start gives hope that Colonel Liam can continue to improve and perhaps he and Largent can provide some depth in the older horse turf division that has been sorely lacking.
-The Pegasus World Cup dirt field was probably better known for who wasn’t in the gate Saturday than the 12 that did load in. Defections of Global Campaign, Tiz the Law, Bodexpress and finally Charlatan, left just Knicks Go, Code of Honor and rank outsider Math Wizard as the only grade 1 winning horses in the field. The race was essentially over early as Knicks Go under prompting from ridiculous long shot Last Judgement set a solid pace yet never seemed to be anything but in control, cruising home a geared down 2 3/4 lengths winner. Owned by the Korean Racing Authority who had bought him as a stallion prospect for them back home in South Korea, Knicks Go continued his dramatic form reversal since entering the Brad Cox shedrow, registering his fourth easy win in a row, the last one prior being a tour de force performance in the Breeders Cup Mile. The son of Paynter had no issues with the 1 1/8 distance and seems poised to perhaps be rerouted to more racing instead of going off to stud duty as he appears to be the best older horse in training in North America.
-The day at the races was odd as the crowd numbered less than 2000 people which even in the new Gulfstream Park seemed sparse. I’m hoping that management there will reconsider their no fans stance and perhaps allow a similar number for racing the rest of the meet as it seemed like social distancing was relatively successful and considering the general atmosphere in South Florida it might be something to brighten the spirits of racing fans.
-Jason Blewitt the popular host of the Gulfstream Park in-house and simulcast shows the last four years worked his last day in the role on Saturday. He is leaving to go to work for West Point Thoroughbreds and will still be based here in South Florida so we should still be seeing him around the track once things are closer to normal. We wish him well in his new endeavor as he is a good friend and a great racing enthusiast.
Late in the day Saturday my co-host on the Going in Circles Big Monday show Barry Spears videoed one of the most amazing drunk fan saves that you will see. We talked about it on last nights podcast (click below) and you can check it out on the video of the day 👇🏻👇🏻