Cox Pair Prominent on $3M Pegasus World Cup (G1) Invitation List

January 3rd, 2024

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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox is represented on the first invitation list for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park by a pair of prominent stable stars –Godolphin LLC’s First Mission and FMQ Stables’ Saudi Crown and

The 8th running of the Pegasus World Cup will be the centerpiece of a Jan. 27 celebration of World Class Thoroughbred racing, entertainment, fashion, and food at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/8-mile showcase for 4-year-olds and up, will be featured on a spectacular program with seven graded stakes, along with the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) and the $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G2).

Cox saddled Knicks Go for a dominating victory in the 2021 Pegasus World Cup. Knicks Go also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and 2021 Horse of the Year honors before finishing second behind Life Is Good in the 2022 Pegasus.

Saudi Crown earned Grade 1 credentials by winning the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx before finishing off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita in his only finish worse than second. The 4-year-old son of Always Dreaming won his first two races before finishing second in the Dwyer (G3) at Belmont and second in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga.

First Mission, a son of Street Sense who has not been worse than second in five career starts, captured the April 15 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland before going to the sidelines. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred returned to capture an Oct. 14 optional claiming allowance around two turns at Keeneland five months later – a gutsy off-the-pace score followed by a heartbreaking loss by a nose in the Clark (G2) at Churchill Downs in his most recent start. 

Cox’s stable stars are joined on the list by invites trained by Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher, both of whom have also celebrated Pegasus World Cup triumphs.

Baffert, a four-time Eclipse Award winner who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, has saddled two Pegasus World Cup winners, Arrogate in 2017 and Mucho Gusto in 2020.

Baffert is represented on the invitation list by National Treasure, who was Grade 1 stakes-placed during his juvenile season. He captured the 2023 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course and finished his 3-year-old campaign with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of Quality Road campaigns for an ownership group that includes SF Racing LLC, Starlight Stable and Madaket Stables LLC.

Pletcher saddled Life Is Good for a victory in the 2022 Pegasus World Cup, as well as notching back-to-back Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) wins with Colonel Liam in 2021 and 2022.

The 11-time Championship Meet titlist may have as many as three opportunities to win a second Pegasus World Cup with Pro Thoroughbred Enterprises’ Grand Aspen on the first invitation list, as well as Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Dynamic One, and Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Crupi, who have been listed as reserve invitees.

Grand Aspen, a late-to-develop 5-year-old son of Dialed In, earned his way onto the main invitation list of 12 horses after losing a photo finish by a neck while finishing second behind O’Connor in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3).

Dynamic One captured the 2022 Suburban (G2) at Belmont before going to the sidelines and returning to action in a recent Gulfstream Park optional claiming allowance. Crupi, a 4-year-old son of Curlin, is coming off back-to-back stakes victories in the Discover and Queens County at Aqueduct.

Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Skippylongstocking and O’Connor have been invited to make second starts in the Pegasus following disappointing efforts last year. Both are in peak form heading into this year’s Pegasus.

Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking, who finished seventh last year, is coming off a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of Exaggerator won the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2) in his previous start.

Michael and Julia Iavarone and Fernando Vine Ode’s O’Connor, who was never a factor while finishing 11th in last season’s Pegasus, is coming off back-to-back victories in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland and Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Park. The 7-year-old son of Boboman, who was a multiple Group winner in Chile, made a courageous drive along the rail to capture the 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday.

Joseph-trained Ny Traffic, who finished third in the Harlan’s Holiday for John Fanelli and partners, is on the list of reserve invitees.

Joe Peacock Jr.’s Senor Buscador made the invitation list after rebounding from a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to finish second in the Cigar Mile (G2) at Aqueduct in his most recent start. The graded stakes-winning 6-year-old son of Mineshaft, who won the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar in July, is trained by Todd Fincher, a dominant Southwest trainer with a career strike rate of 23 percent.

David Bernsen LLC, Little Red Feather Racing and Rockingham Ranch’s Newgrange drew a Pegasus invitation with a victory in the Dec. 28 San Antonio (G2) at Santa Anita. The Phil D’Amato-trained 5-year-old son of Violence began his 2023 season the way it ended when he captured the Jan. 28 San Pasqual (G2) at Santa Anita.

Stud Facundito’s Subsanador, a multiple Group 1 stakes winner in Argentina, is also on the invitation list following a fourth-place finish behind Newgrange in the San Antonio in his first U.S. start. John Sadler trains the 5-year-old son of Fortify.

BBN Racing LLC’s Trademark will enter the Pegasus off a victory in the Clark (G2) at Churchill Downs. The Victoria Oliver-trained 5-year-old son of Upstart was graded stakes-placed in the Iselin (G3) at Monmouth and the Lukas Classic (G2) at Churchill Downs.

Dream Team One Racing Team’s Pegasus invitee Hoist the Gold, who was Grade 1 stakes-placed as a 2-year-old, finished off his 3-year-old season with a victory in the Cigar Mile (G2) at Aqueduct. The Dallas Stewart-trained son of Mineshaft had captured the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland two starts prior to the Cigar Mile.

Alex Andres LLC’s Il Miracolo earned an invitation to the Pegasus with a strong second half of his 3-year-old season, during which he won the Smarty Jones (G3) at Parx and was graded stakes-placed in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx, the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland and the Clark (G2) at Churchill Downs.

The Antonio Sano-trained 4-year-old is a son of Gun Runner, the winner of the 2018 Pegasus World Cup, in which Sano-trained Gunnevera finished third.

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen are represented on the list of reserve invitees by Red Route One, a 4-year-old son of Gun Runner who won the West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer Park and finished second in both the Southwest (G2) and Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park last season. Asmussen saddled Gun Runner for his 2018 Pegasus score for Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimney Farm.

Trainer Michael McCarthy, who saddled City of Light for a Pegasus World Cup victory in 2019, is represented on this year’s list of reserve invitees by Adrew and Rania Warren’s Wizard of Westwood, a stakes-winning 4-year-old son of Tu Brutus who is coming off an 8 ¼-length allowance victory at Churchill Downs.

The list of reserve invitees also includes Black Type Thoroughbreds, Steve Adkisson and Swibank Stables’ Nimitz Class, a multiple-stakes winner who has won 11 of 21 starts; Sanford Goldfarb, Good Guys Stables and Beast Mode Racing LLC’s Castle Chaos, who finished third in the Cigar Mile (G2) last time out; and Carrie Brogden’s Steal Sunshine, who finished a wide-trip fourth behind O’Connor in the Harlan’s Holiday.

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