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Master of the Seas, Irish-bred winner of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and fellow millionaire Atone, the defending champion, top 12 horses and nine reserves on the initial list of invitations to the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Pegasus Turf for 4-year-olds and up is part of a blockbuster World Cup Day program featuring seven graded-stakes worth $5.2 million in purses including the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) presented by Baccarat and the $500,000 TAA Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G2).
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Godolphin homebred Master of the Seas, based in Europe with trainer Charlie Appleby, made a dramatic late run from 11th of 13 to catch Mawj on the line and win the Breeders’ Cup Mile by a nose Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. It was the third straight U.S. start for the 6-year-old son of Dubawi following a win in the Woodbine Mile (G1) and a second in Keeneland’s Turf Mile (G1) by a nose to Up to the Mark. Master of the Seas owns five combined group-stakes wins in England and Dubai.
Also invited from Europe is Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Westerberg’s Irish-bred 4-year-old filly Warm Heart, whose lone North American start came when second by a neck to favored Inspiral in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). She won the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) at York and Qatar Prix Vermeille (G1) at Longchamp and was third in the Hong Kong Vase (G1) last month.
Atone has run in the Pegasus Turf each of the past two years, capturing the 2023 edition by three-quarters of a length as the third choice in a full field of 12. The 7-year-old gelding owns seven wins and $1.3 million in earnings from 29 career starts and has placed in four other graded-stakes including seconds in the 2021 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream, and 2022 Forbidden Apple (G3) and Mint Million (G3). He will be trying to become the second back-to-back winner of the Pegasus Turf following Colonel Liam in 2021 and 2022.
Trainer Mike Maker, who won his first Pegasus Turf with Zulu Alpha in 2020, has Atone’s stablemate, Therapist, on the invitation list. Michael Dubb’s Therapist is a 14-time winner of more than $1.3 million in purse earnings that owns nine stakes victories, earning Grade 1 credentials in the July 22 United Nations while also winning the 2018 Cutler Bay at Gulfstream.
Louis Lazzinnaro, Madaket Stables, Michael Caruso and Michael Dubb’s Adhamo is an Irish-bred 6-year-old trained by Chad Brown, winner of the inaugural Pegasus Turf in 2019 with eventual Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar. A Group 3 winner in France, Adhamo has made nine North American starts, the last eight in Grade 1 races, with a victory in the 2022 United Nations. Brown is also represented by Klaravich Stables’ Program Trading, winner of the Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1) and Hollywood Derby (G1) in 2023, the latter Dec. 2.
Susan and John Moore’s Catnip put together three consecutive wins last spring and summer capped by the 1 1/8-mile Monmouth (G3) at Monmouth Park, where the 5-year-old gelding also ran second to Therapist in the United Nations.
West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing’s 4-year-old Integration is undefeated in three career starts, breaking his maiden and winning the Virginia Derby (G3) over Program Trading at Colonial Downs before taking the Hill Prince (G2) in mid-November for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
Harrell Ventures’ Main Event is a three-time winner over the Gulfstream turf, topped by stakes wins in the 2022 Cutler Bay and the Dec. 30 Fort Lauderdale (G2), local prep for the Pegasus Turf. It was the second straight win for the 5-year-old son of champion Bernardini and second in a graded-stakes following the 2022 Kent (G3) at Delaware Park.
AMO Racing USA’s Kingmax earned his way onto the invitation list with his dramatic runner-up finish by a head in the Fort Lauderdale. Group 3-placed in England in 2022, the 5-year-old won each of his first two North American starts last summer at Monmouth before finishing fifth in the Seagram Cup (G2) over Woodbine’s all-weather surface in July, his last start before the Fort Lauderdale.
Michael and Jules Iavarone, Nicholas Zoumas, Dino Baccari, Frank Argano and Peter Douglass’ Chilean-bred Master Piece was a Group 2 winner in his native country before coming to the U.S., where he owns graded-stakes wins in the 2022 Eddie Read (G2) at Del Mar and Nov. 11 Red Smith (G2) at Aqueduct, his most recent start. Seventh in last year’s Pegasus Turf, Master Piece went on to be third in both the Mac Diarmida (G2) and Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream.
Charles Fipke’s homebred Shirl’s Speight won the 2020 Marine (G3) in his second career start and added graded triumphs in the 2022 Tampa Bay (G3) and Maker’s Mark Mile (G1). Trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, the 6-year-old is winless in five starts this year with his best finish being a second in the Woodbine Mile (G1).
D.J. Stable’s Webslinger is a three-time stakes winner topped by the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs last May. An optional claiming allowance winner last winter at Gulfstream that also ran second in its Colonel Liam, the 4-year-old exits a runner-up finish in the Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar.
Leading the reserve list are Jerry the Nipper and Grand Sonata, separated by a head when respectively third and fourth in the Fort Lauderdale for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who also trained Colonel Liam to his successive Pegasus World Cup Turf wins. Repole Stable’s Jerry the Nipper has six wins and has placed in six other stakes, all against New York-breds, while Whisper Hill Farm homebred Grand Sonata won the Dania Beach and Kitten’s Joy (G3) in the winter of 2022 at Gulfstream.
Other reserves are 2023 Dueling Grounds Derby (G3) winner Anglophile; 2021 Louisville (G3) winner Cellist; two-time Grade 2-placed I’m Very Busy; 2023 Tokyo City Handicap (G3) winner Missed the Cut; 2022 Bowling Green (G2) winner Rockemperor; 2023 Bryan Station (G3) winner Runaway Storm and Watsonville, winner of the Dec. 26 Mathis Mile (G2) at Santa Anita.
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