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The 2nd annual Grade 1, $1,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Turf is set for this Saturday at Gulfstream Park. For two years the Pegasus World Cup on the dirt had the entire spotlight, while now the turf runners will get their shot at a nice purse for the second season. A field of 12 horses, plus one also eligible, are set to contest the second running of the race, including a good mix of local runners and out of town shippers. Last year Bricks and Mortar kicked off his flawless campaign in the race, which led to Horse of the Year honors. The card kicks at 11:30 A.M. Saturday at Gulfstream, with the Pegasus World Cup Turf scheduled to go off at 4:49 P.M. ET.
This years field will be led by the classy Magic Wand, who finished second in this same spot last season. The Aidan O’Brien trained mare has made over $4,000,000 in her career, despite only winning 3 of 22 lifetime starts. Last year, she hit the board in 8 of 12 starts, including a Group 1 victory two starts back in the Seppelt MacKinnon Stakes at Flemington. Today, the mare will break from post 12, with Ryan Moore along for the ride.
Chad Brown, who is the defending champion of the race, will start three horses in this year’s running. Leading the way is last out winner Instilled Regard, who won the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2) over this track. After running on the dirt to begin his career, he’s found a home on the turf with Brown. His stablemate Without Parole is also an interesting prospect, who will be making his second start in this country. His first came at this years Breeders’ Cup, where he was third in the TVG Mile (G1). Finally, Brown will send out Sacred Life, who has finished no worse than second in four starts in America. Last time out, he was second in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) at Del Mar.
Another horse of interest in the race is the classy Sadler’s Joy, who is coming off a solid victory last time out in the Red Smith Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct. That win was his first since March of 2018, when he won the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2). The hard-knocking horse has hit the board 18 of 26 career starts, including two graded stakes win over this race track. He’ll break from post 4 today, with Javier Castellano aboard.
The full field from the rail out includes: Zulu Alpha, Arklow, Without Parole, Sadler’s Joy, Channel Cat, Instilled Regard, Admission Office, Henley’s Joy, Next Shares, Mo Forza, Sacred Life, Magic Wand, and Tusk.
#3 Without Parole – Chad Brown will try to win this race for the second straight season, after Bricks and Mortar was ultra-impressive last year. This year, he brings in three horses, with Without Parole heading his chances. This horse made his America debut last time out, finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup TVG Mile (G1). That effort was impressive, as he closed from the back of the pack to finish behind super star fillies Uni and Got Stormy. This might actually be an easier spot for him today, making him one of the ones to beat. He must stretch out in distance from his usual one-mile race, which is the biggest question mark coming into this spot.
#12 Magic Wand – It’s hard not to be excited about Magic Wand coming back over to Gulfstream Park for this race a second time. She is one of the classiest horses in the world, hitting the board in 8 of 12 races last year, including a runner-up finish in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). She ended last season in tremendous form, while there is no doubt she towers over this group from a class standpoint. She enters this race as the one to beat, with little doubt that she’ll show up with a tremendous effort.
#9 Next Shares – He has proven to be an inconsistent horse over the years; however, when at his best he can be hard to beat. If he can show up in this race with the same type of effort he showed last time out when taking home the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) at Del Mar he’ll have a shot. He does not have a great track record in Grade 1 events, though, which his the only downside. However, while this race is tough, it is not the toughest Grade 1 you will find. He’ll have a shot with his best effort.
#2 Arklow – He has proven to be super consistent throughout his career; however, he has not been able to take down a big time race like this just yet. This is not the toughest field he has ever face, though, while he gets top Gulfstream Park jockey Luis Saez to ride. Look for him to be around at the end with a chance, as he usually is in every start. If you can go deep in your multi race wagers this is one that would be smart to include.
#1 Zulu Alpha – This hard-knocking 7-year-old has been able to compete in some of the toughest turf events over the years, including a fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last time out. He also has a solid track record as Gulfstream Park, winning 2 of 3 starts, including the W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3) on the Pegasus undercard last season. He’ll need to have a lot of pace in this spot to make an impact, which is something that is possible. If the front runners start to fall apart, this is the horse that come with a run and pick up the pieces.
#4 Sadler’s Joy – This seems like the ultimate hit the board candidate. He always seems to be around in the end making a giant late run, while coming up a bit short. He did win the Red Smith Stakes (G3) last time out; however, that was his first win since early-2019, while it was also a big drop down in class for him. He’ll need to be extra sharp to win the whole thing in this spot but hitting the board is possible.
#5 Channel Cat – Distance is this horses best friend, which is why he struggled last time out at a 1 1/8-miles in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2). This race gives him a little more room to maneuver, making him playable in the underneath positions. Actually winning the race might be a stretch, though, so this could be a long shot to key in the 3rd and 4th spots.
#11 Sacred Life – This Chad Brown trainee has finished first or second in all four of his starts in the United States, including a solid runner-up finish last time out in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) at Del Mar. He has proven to be a useful horse for Brown; however, he hasn’t shown that high level of talent that was expect when he came to this country. He’ll have to show some improvement to take home the big prize in this spot.
#6 Instilled Regard – After his big win in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2) its hard to completely leave him out of the conversation. Having Chad Brown on his side obviously doesn’t hurt, while we know this horse is bred to do big things. However, he still has some improving to do in the speed figure department before he can step up and win a race of this magnitude.
#7 Admission Office – This horse run consistently well, hitting the board in several races, but not in one that is as tough as what he’ll see today. This is a big time jump up in class for him, which might be his undoing. He has to improve too much to back him.
#10 Mo Forza – It’s awfully hard to “throw out” a horse who has won four straight, the last three against graded stakes foes. Those wins came against 3-year-olds in California, though, which is why I’m skeptical of his abilities against older company today. I’ll let him beat me in this spot, especially with so many other logical options.
#8 Henley’s Joy – Simply put, he looks outclassed no matter how you try to make a case for him. This just looks like too tough of a spot for him to handle.
Aslo Eligible: #13 Tusk
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