Pegasus Profiles: Rest of the field
The world’s richest race, the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus (G1) at Gulfstream Park, will be offered Saturday and I’ve already profiled top contenders Arrogate and California Chrome at the TwinSpires Blog.
Let’s take a look at the remaining 10 contestants (program numbers included):
#7 SHAMAN GHOST – Steadily-developing five-year-old has a chance to crash the exacta party if either of the top pair fails to fire something close to their best. The Jimmy Jerkens charge had a nice 2016 campaign and may have the right running style to make some noise from off the pace in a field where the tempo should be hot. The son of Ghostzapper has been in South Florida training for more than a month and Shaman Ghost runs well off the layoff.
#4 NOBLE BIRD – Grade 1 hero from the barn of Mark Casse is intriguing as the son of Birdstone has proven to be a very capable sort on his best day. A winner in 2-of-3 races leading up to the Pegasus, the six-year-old chestnut brings serious early foot to the table and might be on top early if he breaks well. I like the 3-for-6 mark at Gulfstream and recent swift morning drills, and Noble Bird rates as a possible exotics player. It is worth noting the millionaire produced BRIS Speed numbers of 114 and 117 last year.
#10 BREAKING LUCKY – Reade Baker trainee was a big second in the Clark H. (G1) last out, finishing ahead of Shaman Ghost, and has some appeal as an exotics contender in this rich race. Based at Woodbine, five-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky does not have a bevy of experience running on the dirt, but Breaking Lucky did capture a leg of the Canadian Triple Crown at Fort Erie and also recorded a close fourth in the Woodward S. (G1) last summer He obviously stacks up better against a field without California Chrome and Arrogate, but chestnut has some tactical foot and could get first run on the late closers as he tries to grab a small share.
#9 KEEN ICE -- $2.3 million earner from the barn of Todd Pletcher rallied for a decent second in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) in preparation and Keen Ice could be rounding into top form for this lucrative event. He is winless since upsetting the 2015 Travers S. (G1), and could be a little overbet in this spot, but the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) third-placer remains eligible to rally for a share behind a fast pace.
#3 NEOLITHIC – Dark bay four-year-old has run just once with stakes foes and connections have picked a daunting race to seek Neolithic’s first black-type tally. Pletcher pupil does come off a fine allowance victory at Gulfstream, generating a career-best 102 BRIS Speed rating, but the jump from first-level allowance foes to this race seems too much for me to embrace his chances for a big payday.
#11 ERAGON – South American import is a three-time Group 1 champ, showing his versatility winning premier events on turf and dirt. Five-year-old son of Offlee Wild may prefer a little less ground but it’s easy to appreciate the spirit shown by connections trying this inaugural event, Eragon would be a major shocker in my opinion.
#5 WAR STORY – Five-year-old gelding rolls in off a pair of good runs, posting a facile stakes score at Aqueduct most recently, and takes another chance at the best in racing. Now trained by Mario Serey, the barn-hopping War Story has been beaten by a combined 61 ¼ lengths in his last three Grade 1 tries but does appear to be at the top of his game presently. Son of Northern Afleet is still an outsider, but he appears to be moving in the right direction.
#2 PRAYER FOR RELIEF – Nine-year-old is no stranger to be running for big purses, but Prayer for Relief is in deep here. Winless since a listed stakes win in early 2013, son of Jump Start is hard to back for anything after losing his last two starts by 53 combined lengths.
#8 SEMPER FORTIS – Reddam Racing’s charge had a useful fall campaign with a few nice stakes outings but is facing much better here. Winless a first-level allowance tally in 2015, four-year-old son of Distorted Humor recorded a fine six-furlong bullet move in 1:11 4/5 recently but Semper Fortis is seeking his first stakes win for Doug O’Neill in an impossible spot.
#6 WAR ENVOY – Five-year-old son of War Front has picked up both of his lifetime wins on the turf overseas and finished third just once from five races in 2016. The Craig Dollase trainee was dusted by much lesser in his only two previous runs on the dirt and would be the biggest shock of my lifetime should he finish in the top five. The bay looks outclassed by many lengths against this cast.
(Shaman Ghost photo courtesy of David Alcosser/Adam Coglianese Photography)