Friday, January 25, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH - Accelerate schooled in the paddock at Gulfstream Park during Thursday’s first race in preparation for his start in Saturday’s $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational. “He’s the picture of health,” said Juan Leyva, assistant to trainer John Sadler, while watching the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the Pegasus get acquainted with the paddock and walking ring.”
Accelerate, who arrived from Southern California Tuesday evening, was accompanied during the schooling session by stablemate Catapult, Woodford Racing’s 6-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy who is rated second at 7-2 in the morning line for the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational.
“They’re both doing really well. They’ve taken to their surroundings very well,” said Leyva, who rode in South Florida before retiring in 2017 and joining Sadler’s stable in Southern California. “The first day it was just getting acclimated a little to the humidity here, but now they’re doing awesome. They’re bright. They’re happy.”
Accelerate, the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, is a finalist for the 2018 Horse of the Year title that will be announced at Thursday evening’s Eclipse Awards dinner in Gulfstream’s Sport of Kings facility.
Todd Pletcher-trained Audible’s Pegasus World Cup stock plunged when the 4-year-old colt was upset at 1-10 odds in his Gulfstream Park prep for the 1 1/8-mile event for older horses. The son of Into Mischief lost the Dec. 15 Harlan’s Holiday by a half-length, faltering late after closing with a five-wide run from off the pace over a sloppy track. The Pegasus offers Audible an opportunity to redeem himself on the same track over which he rallied to win by three lengths in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby on March 31. Pletcher is hopeful that the Pegasus will set up as nicely for his 10-1 morning-line shot as it did in Gulfstream’s signature race for 3-year-olds.
“It looks like a race should have a legitimate pace, and I think Audible should appreciate that. The Florida Derby had a hot contested pace and he ran very well in that situation,” said Pletcher, whose trainee went on to finish a troubled third in the Kentucky Derby. “The Kentucky Derby had a smart pace as well. He’s the kind of horse that likes to run in a race where he can settle and later on make a run into solid fractions.” Flavien Prat takes over for Javier Castellano, who has opted to ride Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner City of Light.
The Pegasus will be the last race in the careers of City of Light and Accelerate, who will both stand at stud this year at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky, but it will provide others in the field of 12 a lucrative opportunity to start off the 2019 season. “I think because of the positioning of the Pegasus it allows two horses this year like City of Light and Accelerate, who are going to stud, to have a chance to run at a significant purse," Pletcher said. "It’s also a good starting point if you’re planning to run all year. There’s good spacing between the Pegasus and the Dubai World Cup. More than anything, it gives Gulfstream that marquee race. It’s always had the Florida Derby and the Donn, but this is kind of a must-see race.”
Dirt Could be Next for Pegasus Turf Favorite Yoshida
Yoshida, 5-2 program favorite for the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, may find himself back on dirt after competing in North America’s richest grass race. Trainer Bill Mott hinted a second international trip may be in store for 5-year-old Yoshida, who finished fifth by 1 ¼ lengths in the Queen Anne Stakes last summer at Royal Ascot.
“I guess if he comes out of the Pegasus well, we’ll probably try to go to the Dubai World Cup with him,” Mott said. Boosted to $12 million for 2019, it will be held March 30 at Meydan Racecourse.
Yoshida is a rare Gr. 1 winner on both surfaces, having captured the Turf Classic on the 2018 Kentucky Derby undercard in his 4-year-old debut. He made his first 10 career starts on the grass before a two-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward Sept. 1 at Saratoga.
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“Going into it, he had never actually had a race on the dirt," Mott said. "He had worked on the dirt all the time and he had worked well enough, but you never really know until you put them out there in the afternoon. To see him split the field at the head of the lane and run on the way he did was very pleasing. I had no idea what the outcome was going to be. You can pretend to have that crystal ball and know what the outcome is going to be but until you actually see it I think you don’t really know.”
Mott kept Yoshida on the dirt for the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he was a rallying fourth under Jose Ortiz – 1 ¾ lengths behind Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate, and a nose out of third. Gunnevera, who returns in the Pegasus, was second. Ortiz returns to ride in the Pegasus Turf.
“He ran so well in the Breeders’ Cup Classic," Mott said. "I think he got beat less than two lengths, had a little bit of a wide trip turning for home. He opted to swing wide in that particular spot and he was beaten by two very good horses. With a great trip, maybe he would have been second. Who knows? He’s shown us time after time between the Woodward and also the Breeders’ Cup Classic that those are the races that he should be in at the moment.”
With the same ownership group having Audible in the Pegasus, the decision was made to put Yoshida back on grass for the Pegasus Turf. He has been first or second in seven of 10 career turf races, earning $889,770 of his $1.6 million bankroll.