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Harrell Ventures’ Main Event, front-running winner of the Fort Lauderdale (G2) in his prior start, chases a third straight victory and fourth over the Gulfstream Park turf in Saturday’s $1 million 1/ST Bet Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).
The 13-race program is loaded with with seven graded stakes, including the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G2).
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Main Event, a 5-year-old son of champion Bernardini, is attempting to become the first horse since the Pegasus Turf was launched in 2019 to sweep both that race and its local prep. The last two Fort Lauderdale winners, City Man in 2022 and Doswell in 2021, respectively finished 12th and seventh.
In 2020, Largent won the Fort Lauderdale and was beaten a neck by his stablemate, Colonel Liam. in the 2021 Pegasus Turf. The 2019 Fort Lauderdale winner, Instilled Regard, ran third behind Zulu Alpha in the Pegasus Turf, a neck behind runner-up Magic Wand.
Trained by George Weaver, Main Event has won each of his last two races by a head in front-running fashion, holding off late-running Kingmax in the 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale Dec. 30 at odds of 11-1. Kingmax also returns in the Pegasus Turf.
It was the third win from four starts on the Gulfstream turf for Main Event, who in successive 2022 starts was second by a neck in the one-mile Palm Beach and went gate to wire to win the 1 1 1/6-mile Cutler Bay on the undercard of the Florida Derby (G1).
“He’s an athlete, you know what I mean, so I wasn’t surprised,” Weaver said of Maine Event’s performance in the Fort Lauderdale. “He paid pretty decent that day. He’s a big fan of Gulfstream’s turf course, so if you’re going to pick a place for him to run in a million-dollar race, Gulfstream would be the place you’d pick.”
Main Event won the 2022 Kent (G3) going 1 1/8 miles at Delaware Park, finished seventh in the Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1) then was off for 11 months before returning to be fifth in an optional claimer last July at Saratoga behind Jerry the Nipper, who was third by a half-length in the Fort Lauderdale and returns in the Pegasus Turf.
Two more fifths followed, one at Saratoga and another at Aqueduct, beaten a total of 6 ¾ lengths before visiting the winner’s circle following a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer Nov. 3 in his Fort Lauderdale prep.
“We feel like the horse has maintained good form. He had a nice maintenance breeze the other day. He’s not a big, heavy horse so he doesn’t need fast works or anything like that,” Weaver said. “He’s going into the race every bit as good if not better than he did in the Fort Lauderdale. He’ll probably need to step it up even better but we’re happy with the horse.”
Main Event drew Post 11 of 12 in the Pegasus Turf and will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, also aboard in the Fort Lauderdale. Weaver said the plan is to let Main Event do what he does best.
“We’ve got our strategy,” he said. “It’s not going to change with the post position.”
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