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Pegasus World Cup Turf 2023: Colonel Liam Invited Back To Attempt Taking Third Straight Title
Colonel Liam (Coglianese Photos / Ryan Thompson)

Pegasus World Cup Turf 2023: Colonel Liam Invited Back To Attempt Taking Third Straight Title

           Two-time defending champion Colonel Liam and fellow Grade 1 winners Decorated Invader, Ivar, Shirl’s Speight and Speaking Scout are among a dozen horses on the first invitation list for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.

            The 1 1/8-mile Pegasus Turf for 4-year-olds and up is among eight stakes, seven graded, worth $5.3 million in purses co-headlined by the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G3).

            Robert and Lawana Low’s Colonel Liam, trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, returned from nine months between starts to run sixth in the Dec. 31 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream in his Pegasus prep. The 6-year-old son of Liam’s Map was a neck winner over Largent in the 2021 Pegasus and beat another of his stablemates, Never Surprised, by a length in last year’s edition.

            Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Speaking Scout exits a three-quarter-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Hollywood Derby (G1) Dec. 3 at Del Mar, his second stakes triumph and first in graded company. The 4-year-old Mr Speaker gelding was a five-length winner of the 1 1/8-mile Hawthorne Derby Oct. 1 and ran second by a half-length to fellow Pegasus invitee Cabo Spirit in the Oct. 29 Twilight Derby (G2) at Santa Anita.

            Charles Fipke’s Shirl’s Speight is a multiple graded-stakes winner that went over the $1 million mark in purse earnings with his runner-up finish in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland. The 6-year-old son of Speightstown, trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, rallied for a nose victory in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) last April.

            Fourth in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Mile, beaten a length, was Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I’s Ivar, a Brazilian-bred 7-year-old that won a pair of Group 1 races in Argentina before coming to the U.S. He won the 2020 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland in his fourth domestic start and also ran second in the 2022 Turf Mile at Keeneland and Woodbine Mile (G1).

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            West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning’s Decorated Invader captured the 2019 Summer (G1) on the Woodbine turf as a 2-year-old and went on to score in the Pennine Ridge (G2) and National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) in 2020. The 6-year-old returned last fall after more than a year away and has run four times, most recently finishing second in the Fort Lauderdale.

            The Fort Lauderdale was the third consecutive stakes win for Decorated Invader’s Christophe Clement-trained stablemate, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Peter and Patty Searles’ City Man, also among the list of invitees. The 6-year-old son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man has won eight career stakes including the Forbidden Apple (G3) last summer at Saratoga.

            Completing the initial invitation list are Dicey Mo Chara, coming out of a half-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile San Gabriel (G2) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita; Masteroffoxhounds, who earned his second career Grade 2 score in Santa Anita’s John Henry Turf Championship going 1 ¼ miles Oct. 1; Master Piece, winner of the Eddie Read (G2) and second in the Del Mar Handicap (G2); Who’s the Star, riding a three-race win streak in the Durham Cup (G3), Autumn (G2) and Valedictory (G3) on Woodbine’s all-weather surface; and 2022 Bay Shore (G3) winner Wit, third by less than a length in the Hollywood Derby.

            Repole Stables’ Never Surprised is among 11 horses on the reserve invite list, having run second in an optional claiming allowance Dec. 17 at Tampa Bay Downs off a similar nine-month gap as Colonel Liam. The 5-year-old Constitution horse is a three-time stakes winner including the 2021 Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream.

            In Love, Ivar’s Paulo Lobo-trained stablemate, is another Brazilian-bred Argentine import that won the Keeneland Turf Mile (G1) in 2021 and comes out of a three-quarter-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Prairie Bayou over Turfway Park’s all-weather surface Dec. 17.

            Along with Shirl’s Speight on the main list, Fipke and Attfield also have Lady Speightspeare on the reserve list. The 5-year-old mare owns four career graded-stakes wins – the 2020 Natalma (G1) and 2022 Nassau (G2), Trillium (G3) and Seaway (G3), all at Woodbine. She exits a third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) Nov. 5 at Keeneland.

            The reserve list also features Atone, fourth by less than a length in the 2021 Pegasus Turf; 2022 Louisville (G3) winner Cellist; Dark Shift, winner of the Royal Hunt Cup last summer at Royal Ascot; multiple graded-stakes placed Good Governance, fourth last out in the Fort Lauderdale; Hurricane Dream, group-stakes placed four times in Europe yet to race in the U.S.; 2022 Knickerbocker (G3) winner King Cause; Law Professor, a Grade 2 winner on dirt that won the Tapit on the turf at Kentucky Downs last fall; and Street Ready, third in the Fort Lauderdale.