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Pegasus World Cup News | Nimitz Class Debuts For New Connections
Nimitz Class (Joe Labozzetta /EQUI-PHOTO)

Pegasus World Cup News | Nimitz Class Debuts For New Connections

Nimitz Class, purchased privately after winning six stakes at three different tracks in the Mid-Atlantic, will debut for his new connections in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

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A 5-year-old Munnings gelding bred in Pennsylvania by his former owner, Tom Coulter, Nimitz Class was acquired last fall by the partnership of Qatar Racing, Black Type Thoroughbreds, Swinbank Stables, Steve Adkisson and Campeche Stables and transferred to trainer George Weaver.

Black Type is headed by Jake Ballis and his friend and former basketball teammate, retired NBA forward Rashard Lewis, who played for Seattle, Washington, Orlando and Miami, winning an NBA title with the Heat in 2013.

“Jake Ballis put it together,” Weaver said. “Jake had his eye on the horse. Anytime you try to make a deal buying a horse, there’s some negotiations and figuring stuff out. He was able to get a deal that both parties were happy with, so now we have a horse in the Pegasus from the one-hole. Let’s see what happens.”

Nimitz Class was the last horse in the 12-horse Pegasus World Cup field, added off the also-eligible list on entry day following the defection of Ny Traffic. He drew the rail and will be ridden for the first time by Edgard Zayas.

“He seems like a classy horse. He’s pretty easy to be around. He goes out there and does his job. We’re very happy to have him,” Weaver said. “The horse runs fast numbers. He’s been doing it on the Mid-Atlantic circuit, so this is a little bit of a different venue for him, but he’s got good enough numbers it’s not going to surprise me if he’s a part of it at the end.”

Nimitz Class owns 11 career wins, including the 1 1/16-mile Robert T. Manfuso and John B. Campbell, one-mile Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial and 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer in succession at Laurel Park over the winter and spring of 2022-23.

He also won the six-furlong Danzig against state-breds in 2022 at Penn National and Parx Dirt Mile last fall, the latter by 1 ¾ lengths over Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Gunite.

His first breeze for Weaver came Dec. 30 at Palm Beach Downs, going four furlongs in 50.37 seconds, his first timed work since mid-November. He has breezed twice since, most recently going a half-mile in 52.10 seconds Jan. 20.

“We’ve worked him in company,” Weaver said. “He’s not like some kind of run-off work horse; he just does what you ask him. Every time I’ve worked him, he’s been right there and done things the right way.”

Weaver is hoping that Zayas, one of Gulfstream’s top year-round riders, will be able to work out a good Pegasus World Cup trip from Post 1 on Nimitz Class, a winner of $717,080 in purse earnings that is rated at 20-1 on the morning line.

“I think when you’re going two turns at Gulfstream it’s not that far to the [first] turn, so you’re better off being inside than outside,” Weaver said. “I imagine we’re going to ask the horse for some position. I don’t think he’s got the kind of speed that’s going to put him on the front end, but we’re going to ask him to find a nice spot going into the first turn and after that it’s going to be up to the jock and the horse to get it done.”

A former assistant to Hall of Fame trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher, Weaver has never started a horse in the Pegasus World Cup. He is no stranger to the big stage, however, last summer joining Wesley Ward as the only U.S.-based trainers to win at Royal Ascot with Crimson Advocate in the Queen Mary (G2). Crimson Advocate earned an automatic bid with her victory in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies at Gulfstream.

“We’ve been training horses for more than 20 years on my own with a lot of experience with Todd and Wayne beforehand,” Weaver said. “Running in these big races and having horses that are capable of performing in them, it’s just a dream come true to get a chance to run in them let alone have a chance to win them.

“We’re excited,” he added. “We like to have nice horses and it’s important for your business for people to know that you can get horses there and that you can win them. It’s very easy for people to think that you don’t know what to do with that caliber of horse if you don’t perform well in those spots. We love all our horses, but it’s obviously nice to have talented horses that can participate in big races like this.”