All eyes will be focused on Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, Florida Saturday evening for the 1m1f Grade One Pegasus World Cup Invitational which is due off at 10.40 our time. The purse is $16 Million with the winner taking home the none too shabby amount of $9,325,230 Million. It will no doubt be all Star Spangled Banner with a big old serving of razzmatazz; as the marketing guys put it:
1 Race - 12 Horses - $16 Million on the Line
1 Singing Bullet
2 West Coast
3 Stellar Wind
4 Sharp Azteca
7 Fear The Cowboy
8 War Story
9 Toast Of New York
10 Gun Runner
11 Seeking The Soul
12 Giant Expectations
A wide draw is usually negative at any of the U.S. tracks and that trend does appear to be even more so here at trips over a mile and more looking at the various stats. Gun Runner has stall 10 and Toast Of New York 9 so on paper both are at a disadvantage literally from the start. Bob Baffert pair of West Coast and Collected are due to bounce from 2 and 4 respectively with Sharp Azteca in 5.
Gun Runner was crowned 2017 Horse of the Year at the 47th Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream earlier this week and is set to sign off his career in Saturday's big one. The five-year-old is odds-on to take the richest race in the game. What can you say about his 2017 campaign he won five of six races, including four consecutive Grade One’s, finishing off with a gate-to-wire victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. All that said, as touched upon above, the draw has not been kind and he might just be vulnerable.
From what I have seen Sharp Azteca is a miler simple as that and he is not even the best miler about at the moment for that matter. I know it’s only an extra furlong but I think eight is his limit and can see him fading down the home stretch, I just cannot see the Jorge Navarro trained five-year-old lifting this prize.
Gunnevera looks held on the BC Classic form where he was fifth as well as when second to West Coast prior to that in the G.1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. He does have ‘home advantage’ as he has three victories at the track and is in training at Gulfstream Park West.
It’s tempting to back Toast Of New York at around 20-1 each-way he being the sold British raider and what a story it would be if he could win – if the Jamie Osbourne inmate does connections may as well stay that side of the pond as I would expect Hollywood to be calling! That said it is highly unlikely that a seven-year-old who was retired in 2014 after finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic can come back and lift the biggest price in horse racing having had just one run winning a Conditions event a Lingfield in December.
Coolmore have acquired Stellar Wind for the race but she couldn’t get anywhere near Forever Unbridled in the BC Distaff which was very disappointing and she looks up against it in this.
Unsurprisingly Bob Baffert appears among the list of trainers having two runners. West Coast was third in the Breeders' Cup Classic behind Gun Runner and Collected and there is no real reason to expect him to turn the form around. He is good but wasn’t good enough at Del Mar.
Stable mate from the Baffert yard and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Collected blotted his copybook at Santa Anita in his warm-up for this but prior to that the five-year-old was the only horse able to mount a challenge against Gun Runner in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar and he beat Arrogate in the 1m2f $1 million Pacific Classic prior to that fair and square. Likes to front-run which is no bad thing at this track and the chestnut is far better drawn here than he was in the BC Classic at Del Mar when Gun Runner got the better run of the two. At 7-1 on Friday evening, I am taking a chance he can spoil the party for Steve Asmussen and connections of Gun Runner.Baffert, who won the inaugural running of this race with Arrogate last year, is looking forward to firing a twin assault. He said: "They are both going really well, but, that said, Gun Runner is going to be tough to beat. They have to show up to beat Gun Runner and they have to show their A-game. Collected is a quicker horse than West Coast and he ran second to Gun Runner when the other horse was third in the Breeders' Cup. They have got to be lucky with the break, though."