Pegasus World Cup News & Notes

January 25th, 2024

Hoist the Gold ‘Different Horse’ for 2nd Two-Turn Start in Pegasus

Main Event Looking for Sweep in $1M Pegasus Turf (G1)

Fluffy Sox Makes Gulfstream Debut in Pegasus F & M Turf

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Hoist the Gold’s credentials heading into Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat stack up well against those of his rivals entered in the headliner of Gulfstream Park’s 13-race program with seven-graded stakes, including the $1 million 1/ST BET Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) and the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G2).

A Grade 1 stakes-placed multiple graded-stakes winner, however, has one conspicuous gap in the resume – a victory around two turns – not that the Dallas Stewart-trained 5-year-old has had a whole lot of opportunities to stretch out.

“He’s by Mineshaft out of a Tapit mare,” Stewart said. “We tried two turns one time. It was a year ago, but he’s a different horse now.”

The millionaire one-turn standout launched his 2023 racing season in the 1 1/16-mile Mineshaft (G3) at Fair Grounds last February while seeking his first victory in more than a year. He showed the way for a half-mile before weakening to fourth.

Hoist the Gold will make his second two-turn start Saturday after producing two victories and best performances of his career from his three most recent starts. The homebred veteran captured the Oct. 6 six-furlong Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland prior to finishing sixth in the Nov. 4
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita. He bounced back with a stunning 4 ¼-lengths front-running triumph at Aqueduct in the Dec. 2 Cigar Mile. Hall of Famer John Velazquez has been aboard Hoist the Gold in his three recent starts.

“He’s trained terrific for the race. His works have been just fabulous. We think it’s a winnable race if he handles the two turns,” Steward said. “John thinks he’ll get the distance. It’s a $3 million race and something we needed to look at. We did and came to the conclusion that we needed to run.”

Hoist the Gold, who drew the No. 4 post position, is rated at 12-1 on the morning line.

Main Event Looking for Sweep in $1M Pegasus Turf (G1)

Harrell Ventures’ Main Event, front-running winner of the Fort Lauderdale (G2) in his prior start, chases a third straight victory and fourth over the Gulfstream Park turf in Saturday’s $1 million 1/ST Bet Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).

Main Event, a 5-year-old son of champion Bernardini, is attempting to become the first horse since the Pegasus Turf was launched in 2019 to sweep both that race and its local prep. The last two Fort Lauderdale winners, City Man in 2022 and Doswell in 2021, respectively finished 12th and seventh.

In 2020, Largent won the Fort Lauderdale and was beaten a neck by his stablemate, Colonel Liam. in the 2021 Pegasus Turf. The 2019 Fort Lauderdale winner, Instilled Regard, ran third behind Zulu Alpha in the Pegasus Turf, a neck behind runner-up Magic Wand.

Trained by George Weaver, Main Event has won each of his last two races by a head in front-running fashion, holding off late-running Kingmax in the 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale Dec. 30 at odds of 11-1. Kingmax also returns in the Pegasus Turf.

It was the third win from four starts on the Gulfstream turf for Main Event, who in successive 2022 starts was second by a neck in the one-mile Palm Beach and went gate to wire to win the 1 1 1/6-mile Cutler Bay on the undercard of the Florida Derby (G1).

“He’s an athlete, you know what I mean, so I wasn’t surprised,” Weaver said of Maine Event’s performance in the Fort Lauderdale. “He paid pretty decent that day. He’s a big fan of Gulfstream’s turf course, so if you’re going to pick a place for him to run in a million-dollar race, Gulfstream would be the place you’d pick.”

Main Event won the 2022 Kent (G3) going 1 1/8 miles at Delaware Park, finished seventh in the Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1) then was off for 11 months before returning to be fifth in an optional claimer last July at Saratoga behind Jerry the Nipper, who was third by a half-length in the Fort Lauderdale and returns in the Pegasus Turf.

Two more fifths followed, one at Saratoga and another at Aqueduct, beaten a total of 6 ¾ lengths before visiting the winner’s circle following a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer Nov. 3 in his Fort Lauderdale prep.

“We feel like the horse has maintained good form. He had a nice maintenance breeze the other day. He’s not a big, heavy horse so he doesn’t need fast works or anything like that,” Weaver said. “He’s going into the race every bit as good if not better than he did in the Fort Lauderdale. He’ll probably need to step it up even better but we’re happy with the horse.”

Main Event drew Post 11 of 12 in the Pegasus Turf and will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, also aboard in the Fort Lauderdale. Weaver said the plan is to let Main Event do what he does best.

“We’ve got our strategy,” he said. “It’s not going to change with the post position.”

Fluffy Sox Makes Gulfstream Debut in Pegasus F & M Turf    

When the gates open for the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G2) Saturday afternoon, Fluffy Socks will add two new data points to her career stats: first start at Gulfstream Park and first start in the opening quarter of the calendar year.

Since making her debut for trainer Chad Brown in the summer of 2020, Fluffy Socks has been rested in the winter and sent back into competition in April or May. That schedule has worked very well for the now 6-year-old mare. She has finished in the top three of 17 of her 22 races, won three graded-stakes and earned purses of $1,152,580 while competing at 10 tracks in five states.

This year, Brown and Head of Plains Partners are trying her in the Filly & Mare Turf. In addition to the biggest chunk of the purse, the winner will earn an automatic entry in the Qatar Nassau Stakes (G1) at England’s Goodwood Racecourse in late July and a $25,000 stipend for travel.

In her most recent start, Fluffy Socks, a daughter of Slumber out of Breakfast Time, was second by a head to stablemate Surge Capacity in the Matriarch (G1) Dec. 3 at Del Mar. 

“It was a big effort last time. She was really unlucky to lose,” Brown said. “My other horse, Search Capacity, got through and had the rail run. Fluffy Socks had a little bit of a wide run and ran a big, fast number. She’s come out of it well. We thought we’d just go on with it here and keep her going.”

Fluffy Socks drew Post 7 and is the 9-2 second choice on the morning line for her Florida debut. She is leading earner in the full field of 12. She has worked five times since the Matriarch, including a bullet breeze of 48.40 seconds for a half-mile on dirt at Payson Park Jan. 13. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount.

“She takes good care of herself, this horse,” Brown said. “We’ve given her little breaks along the way. We haven’t overrun her and such. We’ve tried to manage her for longevity like a lot of horses in that division. She’s just a quality horse.”

Brown, winner of the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf in 2022 with Regal Glory, will also saddle Chili Flag, who drew Post 2 and is 20-1 on the morning line.

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