The stage is set for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup and $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, the two main events that headline a loaded 12-race card Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Our team is ready, too, with a race-by-race edition of The Saturday Special “Pegasus style.”
We dedicated our usual Saturday feature solely to the pair of Pegasus events and the entire undercard, which collectively feature recently crowned champions and 2018 Breeders’ Cup winners Accelerate, Stormy Liberal and Shamrock Rose and Eclipse Award finalist and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner City Of Light.
The day starts at 11:30 a.m. ET and the first stakes, featuring two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and champion turf male Stormy Liberal, comes two races later with the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.
The day features nine stakes in all, six of them graded.
The Pegasus Turf, in its first edition, goes as the 11th race at 4:51 p.m. with the main event, which attracted champion older dirt male and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate, closing the card at 5:36 p.m.
Here’s your Pegasus edition of The Saturday Special. Enjoy and good luck.
Race 1. 11:30 a.m. Put down the Bloody Mary or rinse out the coffee pot and settle in for the day. The card opens with a 3-year-old maiden race on the grass with a full field. Pick the winner here and start the day right. Feel like the kind of race Chad Brown wins and he sends out Value Engineering for Klaravich Stables.
Race 2. Noon. A dozen Florida-breds entered in 7-furlong optional claimer to begin the day’s main-track events. Souper Wish needed five starts, and plenty of time, to break his maiden for Charlotte Weber and Mark Casse. How about two in row for 5-year-old son of Speightstown?
Race 3. Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Stakes. 12:30 p.m. Stormy Liberal broke the mold when named champion turf male Thursday night, no doubt the first to take that division without a race longer than 6 1/2 furlongs on the season. He lost at odds-on last time in Grade 3 sprint stakes on New Year’s Day and returns to 5-furlong trip where he’s 4-for-4. He faces tough foe in World Of Trouble, who just missed in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Race 4. 1 p.m. Maiden for 3-year-olds going 1 mile attracts runners from the expected top barns – Bill Mott (Hidden Scroll), Todd Pletcher (Bye Bye Man and Ranger Up) and Chad Brown (Samaronti and High Amplitude).
Race 5. Ladies’ Turf Sprint Stakes. 1:31 p.m. All stakes races the rest of the card and this $150,000 event going 5 furlongs on the grass is a good one with Morticia, Cherry Lodge, Smiling Causeway and Blue Bahia in the field.
Race 6. South Beach Stakes. 2:02 p.m. Road To Victory is 2-for-2 on the grass but hasn’t raced since finishing second to Midnight Bisou in the Grade 2 Mother Goose in late June. She’s part of 14-horse field for 7 1/2-furlong grass stakes with major player Capla Temptess just to her outside.
Race 7. Fasig-Tipton Hurricane Bertie Stakes. 2:33 p.m. Shamrock Rose, last year’s champion female sprinter, makes first start since winning Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in Grade 3 event for fillies and mares. Pennsylvania-bred daughter of First Dude won four straight to finish the season. Only a field of eight, but major players lurk in Dream Pauline, Blamed and Stormy Embrace.
Race 8. La Prevoyante Stakes. 3:05 p.m. Back to the grass for 12-furlong $200,000 stakes for older females. Holy Helena likes the course – she’s 2-for-3 with a second – and looks to turn tables on Si Que Es Buena. Those two finished 1-2 in small stakes late last year. Tricky Escape makes first start for John Servis after winning three of six under Lynn Ashby’s care in 2018. Grade 2 winner Santa Monica is probably the one to beat off rare dull effort on soft ground in Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Race 9. Fred W. Hooper Stakes. 3:38 p.m. Coal Front ran lights out in return off nearly year-long layoff, winning the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector. Similar conditions here for $150,000 stretching out a bit more to 1 mile. Strong field also includes Breaking Lucky, Aztec Sense, Copper Town and Unbridled Juan.
Race 10. W. L McKnight Stakes. 4:14 p.m. Only three races left and time to pad the bankroll heading into the two main events – or perhaps get some of it back. Hunting Horn returns to the U.S. for the third time and meets the likes of Johnny Bear, Canessar, Hunter O’Riley and Nessy.
Race 11. Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. 4:51 p.m. Ten line up for the richest grass race on this continent. Magic Wand takes on males off fourth in Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last fall for Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore team. She faces tall order against Grade 1 winners Yoshida, Channel Maker and Next Shares, Breeders’ Cup Mile runner-up Catapult, Grade 2 winner Bricks And Mortar, Delta Prince and Japanese mare Aerolithe. The pick: Catapult.
Race 12. Pegasus World Cup Invitational. 5:36 p.m. The story within the story of the main event is the rubber-match between Accelerate and City Of Light. They each hold a victory over the other, City Of Light’s coming in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap at the World Cup’s 9-furlong trip and Accelerate’s coming in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita going his preferred 10 furlongs. Those two are by no means the lone contenders for the $9 million purse, with $4 million to the winner. Bravazo almost always runs his race, Seeking The Soul will be tough if he returns to form that landed him the Grade 1 Clark in 2017 and Tom’s d’Etat brings a relative unknown to the table. We’re not done yet with Gunnevera, runner-up to Accelerate in the Classic, sporting a 4-for-9 record at Gulfstream; Kentucky Derby third Audible looking to redeem for loss in Grade 3 prep; and Patternrecognition bidding to keep win streak rolling from extreme outside post. And oh yeah, there’s an unbeaten Mexican champion Kukulkan in the field with Frankie Dettori named to ride for the first time. The pick? City Of Light.
There you go, more than 1,000 words previewing Pegasus Day. Want more? Watch the video below.