Sharp Azteca Pegasus World Cup Pedigree Potential
Do any pedigrees stand out for Pegasus World Cup horses?
by Alastair Bull
The Pegasus World Cup is such a valuable race that it puts the winner’s sire into a position where he has a strong chance of finishing the year as leading sire. It certainly worked out that way in 2017, when Arrogate’s sire Unbridled’s Song won the leading sire title. Arrogate was responsible for more than $13 million of his sire’s $18.5 million in earnings; $7 million of that came from the Pegasus World Cup.
The best pedigrees on paper in this year’s race belong to favorite Gun Runner, a son of the top-notch sire Candy Ride whose grade two-winning dam Quiet Giant is a half-sister to Saint Liam; and West Coast, a son of Flatter out of the champion juvenile filly Caressing. They also hold some of the best form, and they can be expected to run well.
Unlike the Kentucky Derby, where the contestants are tackling 1 ¼ miles for the first time and pedigree is very helpful when trying to select a winner, pedigree won’t be such a factor for punters. The most important thing for the Pegasus World Cup is that you want a horse with a pedigree to run 1 1/8 miles.
Generally, as all the runners are 4-year-olds or older and have run at the top level for a while, most have already shown ability to run the trip. However, this year’s field features a few that haven’t won at 1 1/8 miles.
There is one notable contender in this year’s Pegasus World Cup that hasn’t been asked to run nine furlongs yet. The morning-line second favorite Sharp Azteca has been mostly kept at a mile, at which distance he won the Cigar Mile (G1) Dec. 2 and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Sharp Azteca’s pedigree provides some encouragement about his prospects of staying 1 1/8 miles. The best North American progeny of his sire Freud (Storm Cat) – Prioress Stakes victor Franny Freud and Vosburgh Stakes Giant Ryan – were better at shorter distances, but Freud’s brother Giant’s Causeway has produced numerous horses capable at nine furlongs at further, and Freud has sired black type winners in South America that were capable at 1 ½ miles.
Sharp Azteca’s second dam Sister Girl produced Mint Lane, whose most notable victory was the one-mile Dwyer Stakes (G2), but Mint Lane’s half-sister Sister Girl Blues is the dam of Firing Line, who pushed American Pharoah to a length in the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby.
Of the others, Giant Expectations hadn’t done much racing past a mile until winning the 1 1/16-mile San Antonio Stakes (G2) last month; most of the stakes winners by his sire Frost Giant (Giant’s Causeway) were at distances up to 1 1/16 miles. Singing Bullet hasn’t run past 1 1/16 miles – though he’d need to improve vastly to win this – while top mare Stellar Wind hasn’t won in four attempts at the trip, though she did finish second in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2015.
(Sharp Azteca photos by Coglianese Photos/Susie Raisher)