Gulfstream and Pegasus the Place for First Mission

January 4th, 2024

G2 Cigar Mile Winner Hoist the Gold Looking at Two Turns in Pegasus

Senor Buscador Schools                                            

            HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Godolphin’s lightly raced First Mission, who lost Churchill Downs’ Clark (G2) by a nose in his last start as a 3-year-old, is on track to begin his 4-year-old season in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27, trainer Brad Cox said.

“I think his style, going a mile and an eighth, he likes to be forward — not necessarily on the lead,” Cox said Thursday morning at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. “I think Gulfstream is a place where you want to be somewhat forward. It’s not a long stretch, so I think his style should fit Gulfstream very well.

“It’s a competitive group of horses. With $3 million on the line, you’re going to have to do some running.”

The Pegasus would be only First Mission’s sixth start. He made his racing debut last Feb. 18 at Fair Grounds, finishing second and then winning a month later. A subsequent victory in Keeneland’s Stonestreet Lexington (G3) sent First Mission to the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico, only to have the horse scratched the morning before the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with a minor ankle issue. He resurfaced with a victory in a Keeneland allowance race on Oct. 14 before dropping a nose decision in the Clark to fellow Pegasus invitee Trademark on Nov. 24. First Mission battled for the lead early on that day and had a length lead with an eighth-mile to go before Trademark ground out the victory.

Cox said he would expect to ship First Mission to Gulfstream the Monday or Tuesday of Pegasus Week. Luis Saez, who has been aboard the Street Sense colt for every race but his maiden victory, has the mount.

First Mission is scheduled to work five-eighths of a mile early Friday morning, his fourth work at Fair Grounds since the Clark, which is held at the Pegasus distance.

“He’s doing great. He’s been breezing here at the Fair Grounds pretty steady,” Cox said. “We’re very happy with what we’ve seen from him. He ran a big race in the Clark, just didn’t have his head down in the right spot. But he galloped out strong. Luis said he got a little lost down the lane. That was a nice horse that beat him. I think he’s continuing to learn. He’s lightly raced. I think he’ll have a great 4-year-old campaign and this is a great spot to get it kicked off.”

G2 Cigar Mile Winner Hoist the Gold Looking at Two Turns in Pegasus

Trainer Dallas Stewart said he is “leaning toward” running Cigar Mile (G2) winner Hoist the Gold in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1). Gulfstream Park would be the 12th different track over which Dream Team One Racing Stable’s newly turned 5-year-old has competed.

“He won the Cigar Mile impressively, and he worked great here,” Stewart said Thursday morning at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans. “He’s a very nice horse, a million dollar-earner.”

Hoist the Gold worked a half-mile in 47 1/5 seconds on Tuesday, the fastest work at the distance that morning.

Stewart said he’s not concerned about the 1 1/8-mile distance but acknowledges the Pegasus’ two-turn configuration remains an unknown. Hoist the Gold has only raced around two turns once, finishing fourth in last year’s Mineshaft (G3) at 1 1/16 miles at the Fair Grounds.

“We’ll just have to see how it works out, the two turns,” Stewart said. “He hasn’t won at two turns. But we’ve got a great rider (Hall of Famer John Velazquez) to try to help us figure it out.”

Right after Hoist the Gold finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at six furlongs, Velazquez encouraged Stewart to run him back in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, basically predicting a victory. The result indeed was a front-running 4 1/2-length triumph over Pegasus invitee Senor Buscador.

“He said, ‘Dallas, the distance is not an issue with him,’” Stewart said of Velazquez. “The two turns? We don’t know yet. He said he’ll go a mile and an eighth because he could not pull him up after the Cigar Mile. He could not stop the horse. The horse can go the distance. But it’s a little different going two turns. You’ve got to switch leads more. You’ve got to relax at some point. It isn’t just run, run, run like he did the other day.”

A son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, Hoist the Gold has a 5-6-3 record in 26 starts, earning $1,119,547 for his owner-breeder.

Senor Buscador Schools

Joe Peacock Jr.’s Senor Buscador schooled in the Gulfstream Park walking ring and paddock during the second race Thursday afternoon in preparation for a start in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 27.

            The multiple graded stakes-winning 6-year-old son of Mineshaft, who is one of 12 horses on the first invitation list for the Pegasus World Cup released Wednesday, has been stabled at Gulfstream since Dec. 3.

            “He loves it here. He’s training real good,” said Dennis Means, trainer Todd Fincher’s assistant trainer and exercise rider. “We couldn’t be happier with him.”

            Senor Buscador, who won the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar, is coming off a second-place finish at Aqueduct in the Cigar Mile (G2), in which he trailed the 12-horse field before closing strongly to finish second behind Pegasus World Cup nominee Hoist the Gold.

            “Just give him some speed to run at and he’ll be tough,” Means said.

About The Stronach Group and 1/ST

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