Todd Pletcher’s considerable depth at Gulfstream Park manifested itself again when the Hall of Fame trainer snagged three of the 16 invites to the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, the companion race to the Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
The Grade 1, 1-3/16-mile Pegasus Turf runs Jan. 23 as the main undercard race to the $3 million Pegasus. They are two of the seven graded stakes on that card. The Pegasus Turf headlines four graded stakes turf races that day.
That Pletcher’s endless Gulfstream barn sends three to the Pegasus Turf is not surprising, considering he owns 16 of the last 17 Gulfstream Championship Meet training titles. The Pegasus Turf, however, isn’t on the list. Chad Brown’s eventual Horse of the Year, Bricks and Mortar (2019), and Mike Maker’s Zulu Alpha (2020), claimed victories in the first two editions of this event.
Pletcher Gets Three Tries at Crashing Pegasus Turf’s Gate
Pletcher tries crashing that party with Colonel Liam, Largent, and Social Paranoia. Waiting for that trio are two Grade 1 winners, Say the Word and Storm the Court. All five earned spots among the 12 horses gaining post position preference.
The four also-eligibles, in order of preference, are Next Shares, Field Pass, and two Brown contenders — Analyze It and Greyes Creek. They will get in with any scratches or defections among the 12 principals.
Here are the 12 horses (and their trainers) given first crack at Pegasus Turf post positions.
- Largent (Pletcher): Truly a horse for the course, this Into Mischief son won four of his five starts at Gulfstream. That includes his Dec. 12 upset victory in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale. The gelding is 6-for-9 lifetime and seems to improve in every race.
- Social Paranoia (Pletcher): The 4-year-old won the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream and the Grade 3 Poker Stakes last year. He came back from a five-month break to claim an allowance optional claiming event at Gulfstream last month.
- Colonel Liam (Pletcher): Compared to Social Paranoia and his 16 career races, there’s not a lot of dirt under the hooves of this 4-year-old son of Liam’s Map. All five of his career races came as a 3-year-old last year. They produced three wins and a third, including a solid Boxing Day win in the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream.
- Say the Word (Phil D’Amato): This Canadian-bred 6-year-old gelding won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf at Woodbine in October. He came out of that to finish third in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in late November at Del Mar. His only Gulfstream experience is a fourth in a March 2018 maiden special weight race. That’s one of 26 races on the resume.
- Storm the Court (Peter Eurton): This familiar name returns for his 4-year-old campaign after running eight times in four states as a 3-year-old. Most recognize him for his sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby or his win in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Now, Storm the Court is storming the sod. Three of his last four races came on turf, including his seventh in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November and his second in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile on Santa Anita’s opening day last month.
- Doswell (Barclay Tagg): Not the horse you’d expect to find by Tagg’s name come Pegasus day. But, after Tiz the Law retired last week, the octogenarian trainer pivots to this Giant’s Causeway 6-year-old. Doswell ran only once as a 2-year-old and did not race at 3. He didn’t break his maiden until winning a maiden special weight last August – his sixth of eight career races.
- North Dakota (Shug McGaughey): This 5-year-old needed seven races to break his maiden, which apparently is what it took to get him untracked. His Nov. 21 Grade 3 Red Smith win at Aqueduct was his third in his last five races, and his fourth in his last six. His last four races (two wins, a fourth, and a fifth) all came with triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures.
- Breaking the Rules (McGaughey): Last seen finishing third in the Fort Lauderdale to Largent and Doswell, this 6-year-old son of War Front won his first two races of 2020. Both were allowance optional claimers. He has a third and two fourths since – all in stakes.
- Cross Border (Maker): “Veteran” barely describes this 7-year-old son of English Channel. The Pegasus will be his 31st career race. He’s looking for his 10th career win and first since capturing the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes on the Whitney undercard at Saratoga in August. Cross Border’s last excursion was a second in the Listed Buddy Diliberto Memorial at Fair Grounds.
- Pixelate (Michael Stidham): He comes into the gate fresh off a Dec. 26 victory in the Woodchopper at Fair Grounds. He also comes into his seventh track in as many races, dating to a June 20 race at Churchill Downs. Pixelate has two victories in that skein: the Woodchopper and the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in September.
- Anothertwistoffate (Peter Miller): He’ll come in off a three-week break after winning the Grade 2 San Gabriel on Jan. 2. That followed a win in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile. He earned a primary invite to the Turf along with a reserve invite to the Pegasus.
- Sharp Samurai (Mark Glatt): He too has a reserved spot in the Pegasus, meaning Glatt has a decision to make with this 7-year-old gelding. Sharp Samurai finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, losing the place by a nose to Jesus’ Team.