When trainer Todd Pletcher was asked how his Pegasus winner was doing a day later, he offered a doubly long answer.
Not only does Pletcher train Life Is Good, winner of the featured Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes Presented by 1/ST BET (G1) at Gulfstream Park, but also he handles that same duty for Colonel Liam, who prevailed in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes Presented by Baccarat (G1T), giving the Hall of Famer a historic double.
Pletcher became the first trainer to win both races in the same year and he’s the only trainer with wins in both races, regardless of the year.
“It was quite a day,” Pletcher said Jan. 30 after his Pegasus double dip a day earlier.
Like Life Is Good, Colonel Liam exited his Pegasus win in fine shape. Talented enough to win last year’s Pegasus Turf, the son of Liam’s Map faced a number of obstacles in posting his encore victory. Not only did he have to fend off 11 tough rivals, but the Pegasus Turf victory came in his first start since June 5.
“He’s a great horse and to win a grade 1 off a 239-day layoff is a tribute to the kind of horse he is,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher has yet to finalize plans for Robert and Lawana Low’s son of the Bernardini mare Amazement, but said he might follow the same script as 2021 when Colonel Liam ran in and won the Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (G2T) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots before finishing in a dead heat for the win in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes (G1T) at Churchill Downs. Pletcher also mentioned the possibility of running once more at Gulfstream Park before running at Churchill Downs.
“We haven’t firmed up a solid plan at the moment,” Pletcher said about a 5-year-old bred by Phillips Racing Partnership. “We’re just enjoying the moment.”
Colonel Liam was purchased for $1.2 million from the Wavertree Stables consignment at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. He was originally a $50,000 purchase by Waves Bloodstock from Darby Dan Farm’s consignment at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. With Saturday’s win, his earnings stand at $1,810,565.
Future Plans for Regal Glory Uncertain
Closing out a racing career with a win in a stakes worth nearly a half-million dollars is not a bad way to head to the breeding shed.
It can also be the incentive to continue a rather prosperous racing career.
In a nut shell, those are the options for owner Peter Brant and trainer Chad Brown as they contemplate plans for TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational Stakes (G3T) winner Regal Glory.
“She’s had a great career and has got better every year. She doesn’t owe us anything, but then again horses like her are hard to come by,” Brown said. “She came into the race so sound and strong that we decided to wait and see how she runs before we make a decision about her future. In talking to Mr. Brant, we’re not going to rule out running her again this year and he may breed her. We’re going to give it a couple of weeks to come out of the race and let it sink in a little bit. My job is to provide Mr. Brant with all of the accurate information about how the horse is doing so he can weigh it and make the decision that he wants.”
Out of the More Than Ready mare Mary’s Follies, Regal Glory was bred by the late Paul Pompa and started her racing career for Pompa and Brown in 2018. Following Pompa’s death in 2020, she was bought by Brant for $925,000 at the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale out of the Lane’s End consignment.
Winner of the Matriarch Stakes (G1T) prior to her Pegasus win, Regal Glory has won 10 of 17 starts with earnings of $1,529,884.
A 4-5 favorite in the Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf, Regal Glory’s victory was not much of a surprise, nor was it a shock that the initial edition of the race was captured by Brown, who has the nation’s deepest and most talented band of turf females.
“This race was a great addition,” Brown said. “It was a needed race and is well-positioned on the calendar, especially for older horses because you don’t miss anything in terms of breeding. For a late-blooming horse who you don’t want to stop on during the winter, it’s also a great option.”
Knicks Go Retires After Runner-Up Finish
It may not have been the result Brad Cox wanted for Knicks Go ‘s last race, but the Eclipse Award-winning trainer took great satisfaction in knowing the 6-year-old horse turned in a strong effort while finishing second to Life Is Good in the Pegasus dirt race in his farewell performance.
“It was a good horse race,” Cox said. “We had a good run with him. We’re happy he’s going out happy and healthy and sound and hope he can start his career at stud successfully.”
Knicks Go, a Maryland-bred son of Paynter , was bidding for back-to-back Pegasus wins but was outrun for the early lead by Pegasus winner Life Is Good and could never catch up. He was 4 1/2 lengths behind Life Is Good after six furlongs in 1:10.15 and at that point Cox knew it would take a miraculous rally to outsprint the frontrunner to the wire.
“We were obviously up against it going into the far turn,” Cox said. “When we were that far behind on the backstretch, I couldn’t see how we were going to catch a horse as good as Life Is Good.”
The Korea Racing Authority sent Knicks Go to Cox after the grade 1 winner at 2 was winless at 3. The son of the Outflanker mare Kosmo’s Buddy won the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in 2020, and in 2021 he had five wins in seven starts with three grade 1 wins, including the Whitney Stakes (G1) and Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). All told, it earned him 2021 Longines World’s Best Racehorse honors and make him an odds-on choice to be named Horse of the Year and the champion older male dirt horse.
Bred by Angie Moore, he will head to Taylor Made Stallions with a record of 10 wins in 25 starts with glittering earnings of $9,258,135. He was purchased by the Korea Racing Authority for $87,000 from the Woods Edge Farm consignment at the 2017 Keeneland September sale. As a weanling at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale with consignor Bill Reightler, he sold for $40,000 to Northface Bloodstock.
“So many horses are retired early due to their value, so it was good for the sport for a horse to come back and run one more time like he did,” Cox said. “I don’t think the loss devalues him. That’s narrow-minded thinking. He’s a very good horse. I can’t say it yet, but I’m sure he’ll be Horse of the Year next week and there’s no disgrace in getting beat by a very good horse like Life Is Good. It was a big, big run with him. We had a couple of great years with him.”