Without Omaha Beach, Pegasus World Cup Wide Open
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
The news that Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) favorite Omaha Beach, as well as second choice Spun to Run, would both be scratched out of Saturday’s $3 million race sent shockwaves through the racing world and the field of runners slated to go to the post at Gulfstream Park. Ten runners are left in the 1 1/8-mile contest, with the Bob Baffert-trained Mucho Gusto and the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic winner Higher Power now inheriting favoritism.
Mucho Gusto comes into the Pegasus World Cup off a fourth-place effort in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) in September, but the multiple grade 3 winner was once part of Baffert’s arsenal of Kentucky Derby prospects. He has won half of his ten starts and only been out of the top three once. Irad Ortiz, Jr. originally abandoned the mount on Spun to Run to pick up the ride on this $625,000 son of Mucho Macho Man.
Higher Power won the Pacific Classic by more than five lengths as a 9-1 shot, then ran third in the Awesome Again (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). John Sadler, who brought Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Accelerate here last year, is looking for his first Pegasus win. Flavien Prat will ride.
Eight-year-old War Story won the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) here on December 14, and will be making his third start in the Pegasus. He was fifth here in 2017 behind Arrogate, is a winner over the surface, and has two wins over the distance in a 38-race career. War Story is just dollars short of having $3 million in earnings.
Tax won the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga in the summer after finishing fourth in the Belmont Stakes (G1) in June. He has most recently been second in the Discovery (G3) at Aqueduct in November, and picks up jockey Jose Ortiz for trainer Danny Gargan.
Bodexpress became famous when he lost rider John Velazquez at the Preakness Stakes (G1) and ran loose, then received six months off before breaking his maiden across town at Gulfstream Park West by three lengths. He added an allowance there over a mile by nearly seven lengths, then prepped for this with a third-place effort behind War Story in the Harlan’s Holiday. Gustavo Delgado trains the son of Bodemeister, who was second in the Florida Derby (G1) over this trip as a maiden last year.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Tenfold won the Pimlico Special (G3) last year. Dale Romans trains Mr. Freeze, winner of the Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill Downs over seven furlongs last fall. Seeking the Soul was second in this race last year, and has since won the Stephen Foster (G2) over this distance. Diamond Oops won the seven-furlong Mr. Prospector here on December 21, outrunning the top sprinter Imperial Hint. True Timber rounds out the field.
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