December 19, 2020
Jan. 23 Pegasus World Cup Likely Next for Well-Traveled Colt
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Thumbs Up Racing LLC’s Sleepy Eyes Todd made a late inside surge to narrowly beat a rallying Firenze Fire in Saturday’s $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up honors the memory of Mr. Prospector, who set a Gulfstream track record of 1:07 4/5 while winning a six-furlong allowance in April 1, 1973 and went on to become the most influential stallion of his generation.
Sleepy Eyes Todd ($12.20), who traveled to South Florida with stops in Louisiana, Nebraska, Texas, West Virginia, California and Kentucky for his last six races, is likely to stay around for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G3) at Gulfstream Jan. 23.
“This is the plan,” trainer Miguel Silva said following the winner’s presentation.
Sleepy Eyes Todd, who was coming off a last-to-first victory in the seven-furlong Lafayette on the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup undercard at Keeneland, was the recipient of a patient and well-judged ride from Tyler Gaffalione, his ninth different rider in has last nine starts. The 4-year-old son of Paddy O’Prado broke well from the starting gate before settling in fifth behind loose-on-the-lead longshot pacesetter Wind of Change, who set fractions of 22.07 and 44.35 seconds for the first half-mile. Sleepy Eyes Todd advanced along the rail on the turn into the homestretch in pursuit of the tiring pacesetter, while Firenze Fire, the 5-2 favorite slipped off the rail to make a bid between horses at the top of the stretch. Gaffalione eased Sleepy Eyes Todd off the rail to pass Wind of Change and the Kentucky-bred colt held off the challenge of Firenze Fire by a half-length.
“Everything set up perfectly. He broke well and put himself in the race. I was able to get a nice tracking spot inside. He gave me all the confidence going into the stretch and once he found a spot he accelerated and finished the job. All the credit goes to the trainer. He did a fabulous job getting him ready for today,” Gaffalione said.
“To be honest, If you look at his form he’s run in all the big races across the country and he’s run at every track and he takes his form with him everywhere he goes, so you know he’s consistent and he shows up every time,” he added. “We just had to work out a trip. I thought I’d be tracking Firenze Fire but I wound up a little bit in front of him which I didn’t mind, and got the jump on him.”
Firenze Fire, a $2.2 million earner who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) last time out, settled in seventh along be backstretch before following Sleepy Eyes Todd with an inside run on the far turn. Irad Ortiz Jr. took him off the rail on the turn into the stretch and the multiple graded-stakes winners kicked in nicely in the stretch, only to fall short of catching the winner.
“They went out there fast. I wish I was a little closer,” Ortiz said. “I just kept riding, I followed Tyler, It looked like he had some horse on the turn and then I get [Firenze Fire] out. He cut the corner on me. He rode a great race.”
Sleepy Eyes Todd, who captured the Aug. 29 Charles Town Classic (G2) by 7 ½ lengths at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Pegasus World Cup, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.67 while claiming his eighth victory in 15 starts.
“This is the best horse we’ve ever had,” Silva said. “We’ve always been high on him. We wanted to take him to the Kentucky Derby [last year] but he had a little issue and we had to stop with him. He’s always been a nice horse. We’ve always believed in him,”
Firenze Fire finished 2 ½ lengths ahead of Mind Control, who finished third under jockey John Velazquez following a wide trip from his No. 12 post position.