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Having watched Alexandres’ Il Miracolo end 2023 in the best form of his career, trainer Antonio Sano hopes the 4-year-old Gun Runner colt can keep the momentum going and follow in his father’s footsteps in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat at Gulfstream Park.
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Gun Runner, the champion older male and Horse of the Year in 2017, was a popular 2 ½-length winner of the 2018 Pegasus World Cup in his career finale.
Finishing third in that race was the Sano-trained Gunnevera, who would run sixth in 2019 and retire with three graded-stakes wins and more than $5.6 million in purse earnings.
This will be Sano’s fourth trip to the Pegasus. One of Venezuela’s most successful trainers before coming to the U.S. in 2009, the 61-year-old Sano also was 10th last year with Grade 2 winner Simplification.
“It’s going to be a tough race. All the horses have a chance,” Sano said. “Hopefully, my horse run well.”
Il Miracolo has not run since finishing third behind Pegasus World Cup rival Trademark, beaten 5 ½ lengths, in the 1 1/8-mile Clark (G2) at Churchill Downs. Prior to that, Il Miracolo was second by a head to another Pegasus contender, O’Connor, in Keeneland’s Fayette (G2) and third to Saudi Crown in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1).
First or second in five of nine career starts at Gulfstream, Il Miracolo earned graded status with a three-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones (G3) last August at Parx in his Pennsylvania Derby prep.
“The horse has been doing very well after the [last] race. Right now the horse is very excited and in good condition,” Sano said. “He worked two times with [jockey Javier] Castellano, and I hope to run well.”
Hall of Famer Castellano has the mount on Il Miracolo from Post 10 of 12, rated at odds of 20-1 on the morning line. Castellano won the Pegasus World Cup with City of Light in 2019 and was second with West Coast in 2018.
“I think there are four horses that show speed in the race,” Sano said. “I hope we can find room behind the speed for the horse to close.”
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