Warm Heart Caps Career with $1M Pegasus Turf (G1) Win

January 27th, 2024

4YO Millionaire Filly Sets 1 1/8-Mile Track Record in Victory

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL –Globe-trotting filly Warm Heart, already a multiple Group 1 winner last year in Europe, capped her racing career in style with a record-setting performance in Saturday’s $1 million 1/ST BET Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) Invitational at Gulfstream Park.

The sixth running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf and the eighth renewal of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) presented by Baccarat on dirt, both at 1 1/8 miles, and the third edition of the $500,000 TAA Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G2) headlined a blockbuster Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series program featuring seven graded-stakes worth $5.2 million in purses.

Based in Ireland with trainer Aidan O’Brien, Warm Heart ($6.80) covered the distance in 1:44.45 over a firm turf course to break the track record of 1:44.51 set by champion English Channel in a Feb. 22, 2007 allowance.

Given a heady and patient trip from O’Brien’s first-call rider, champion Ryan Moore, the 4-year-old Warm Heart became both the first female and first European-based horse to win a Pegasus race. She retires with six wins and $2.2 million in purse earnings from 11 starts, and is booked to be bred to 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify.

“We’re absolutely delighted. It’s incredible,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said by phone from Ireland. “Ryan obviously gave her an incredible ride and has done such an incredible job. We’re just so delighted for everyone, and for her to go off now to Justify is so exciting. She’s absolutely made for him.”

Main Event, front-running winner of Gulfstream’s Pegasus Turf prep, the Dec. 30 Fort Lauderdale (G2), was intent on the lead from Post 11 and got there under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, going the opening quarter-mile 23.47 seconds and a half in 46.86 with Jerry the Nipper pressing on his outside and Moore having settled Warm Heart in third along the rail.

The order remained unchanged as they rounded the far turn, with Moore biding his time behind Main Event. Once straightened for home, Moore sent Warm Heart through a narrow opening between Main Event and the rail and she sailed through with aplomb, creating enough space from her rivals to hold off a late charge by I’m Very Busy to win by a half-length.

It was a neck back to the third-place finisher, 45-1 longshot Catnip, who was a length in front of defending Pegasus Turf champion Atone. Integration, Webslinger, Kingmax, Shirl’s Speight, Jerry the Nipper, Adhamo, Main Event and Master Piece completed the order of finish. Also-eligibles Grand Sonata and Anglophile were scratched.

“The leader, he was always leaning out and he was weakening, and I knew I had plenty of horse, so no problem. I was happy to wait,” Moore said. “She’s always traveling very comfortably. I didn’t want to be there too early, and I didn’t want to be tipping out into the straight, and I thought I’d just wait. Se’s a great filly. She’s had an incredible year. She hasn’t had a bad race.”

Warm Heart won the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) in England and Prix Vermeille (G1) in France in back-to-back starts last summer and fall, then was beaten a neck when second to champion Inspiral in the 1 ¼-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. From there she went to Hong Kong to face males for the first time in the 1 ½-mile Vase (G1) Dec. 10, finishing third.

“She’s an incredible filly. Ryan said it just didn’t work out for her the last race,” O’Brien said. “But she’s tactical, she’s tough and she quickens. She doesn’t do an awful lot when she gets there but that’s the way she’s always been. She’s very classy and very hardy, loves the fast ground.

“We’d love to have her and to be racing her, but the lads’ business is breeding these horses and she’s an absolutely incredible broodmare to be going to Justify,” he added. “It’s so exciting, really.”

Trainer Chad Brown was thrilled with the effort from I’m Very Busy, who has now run second in three graded-stakes, most recently in the Nov. 18 Hill Prince (G2) to previously undefeated Integration, who suffered his first loss when fifth in the Pegasus Turf.

“I thought he got a really good trip,” Brown said. “Our goal was to follow one of the live horses. Drawn next to Integration, that was the horse to follow and [jockey] Irad [Ortiz Jr.] executed it perfectly. He had to pause just momentarily in the stretch to wait for a seam and it might have cost him the win there. We’re very proud of him.”

This was the third Pegasus Turf try for O’Brien, who ran second with filly Magic Wand in 2019 and 2020.

“We enjoyed watching it. It looked like an incredible day,” he said. “I wish I was there.”

About The Stronach Group and 1/ST

The Stronach Group is a world-class technology, entertainment and real estate development company with Thoroughbred racing and pari-mutuel wagering at the core.  The Stronach Group’s 1/ST business (pronounced “First”) is North America’s preeminent Thoroughbred racing and pari-mutuel wagering company and includes the 1/ST RACING & GAMING, 1/ST CONTENT, 1/ST TECHNOLOGY and 1/ST EXPERIENCE businesses, while advocating for and driving the 1/ST HORSE CARE mission. 1/ST represents The Stronach Group’s continued movement toward redefining Thoroughbred racing and the ecosystem that drives it. 1/ST RACING & GAMING drives the best-in-class racing operations and gaming offerings at the company’s premier racetracks and training centers including: Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields and San Luis Rey Downs (California); Gulfstream Park – home of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows Thoroughbred Training Center (Florida); the Maryland Jockey Club at Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course – home of the legendary Preakness Stakes, Rosecroft Raceway and Bowie Training Center (Maryland). 1/ST CONTENT is the operating group for 1/ST’s media and content companies including: Monarch Content Management, Elite, TSG Global Wagering Solutions (GWS) and XBTV. 1/ST TECHNOLOGY is racing’s largest racing and gaming technology company offering world-class products via its AmTote, Xpressbet, 1/ST BET, XB SELECT, XB NET, PariMAX and Betmix brands. 1/ST EXPERIENCE blends the worlds of sports, entertainment and hospitality through innovative content development, elevated national and local venue management and hospitality, strategic partnerships, sponsorships, and procurement development. As the advocate for critical industry reforms and by making meaningful investments into aftercare programs for retired horses and jockeys, 1/ST HORSE CARE represents The Stronach Group’s commitment to achieving the highest level of horse and rider care and safety standards in Thoroughbred racing on and off the track. The Stronach Group’s TSG Properties is responsible for the development of the company’s live, play and work communities surrounding its racing venues including: The Village at Gulfstream Park (Florida) and Paddock Pointe (Maryland). For more information, please email david.joseph@marylandracing.com. visit www.1st.com or follow @1ST_racing on Twitter or @1stracing on Instagram and Facebook.