Top 5 After City of Light's and Accelerate's Retirements

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D.S. Williamson

January 30th, 2019

City of Light obliterated his competition in the 2019 Pegasus World Cup. But, like what often happens in horse racing, his connections have decided to retire the Quality Road sired 5-year-old. With City of Light headed to the breeding shed, the mantle for top handicap horse in North America should have fallen to Pegasus favorite Accelerate.

Unfortunately, like his rival, Accelerate is also headed to the breeding shed. That makes the handicap horse division wide-open. Check out my Top 5 heading into February.

Top 5 Handicap Horses

1. McKinzie

Holding him out of the Pegasus World Cup made sense after watching how easily City of Light handled some really good runners. Instead of running the Malibu winner in the Pegasus, Mike Pegram and Bob Baffert, the same pair that brought us Real Quiet, Silverbulletday, and Excellent Meeting, will run him in this Saturday's San Pasqual Stakes.

McKinzie must earn it in the San Pasqual. Battle of Midway, Baffert trained Ax Man and John Sadler's possible handicap beast Gift Box have all signed up for the San Pasqual. If McKinzie wins, or even if he finishes in the Top 3, he's likely headed to Dubai.

2. Seeking the Soul

Sometimes, it takes a while for thoroughbreds to figure it all out. Seeking the Soul might have finally figured things out. If not for City of Light, he'd have easily won the Pegasus. He ran right by Accelerate and nobody else was close to those two in the stretch.

Trainer Dallas Stewart is pointing the Perfect Soul sired 6-year-old to the Dubai World Cup.  He'll have a shot. Although he closed in the Pegasus, he can stay much closer if he must.

3. Gift Box

Like Seeking the Soul, Gift Box is a 6-year-old horse that may have finally figured it all out. He was fantastic when winning the Grade 2 San Antonio, beating Battle of Midway and Dabster. He appeared to struggle to change leads at one point in the San Antonio, but once he did, he easily went by Battle of Midway.

If the Sadler trainee improves in the San Pasqual, he's another that could win the Dubai World Cup. He's certainly bred well. Gift Box's sire is Twirling Candy while his broodmare, Special Me, was sired by Unbridled's Song.

4. Bravazo

The D. Wayne Lukas trainee ran great to finish 4th in the Pegasus World Cup. He was part of the pace from the beginning. At one point, it appeared as if he might win the race, but City of Light was just too tough. Bravazo might be a cut below these right now. Because he's a 4-year-old, he could start showing his best around spring. That's when D. Wayne will ratchet things up.

Lukas hasn't even said where he's running next. Most likely, he'll race in the states in March while the rest are preparing for the Dubai World Cup.

5. Catholic Boy

A Grade 1 winner on both turf and dirt, Jonathan Thomas figures to take his time with the More Than Ready sired 4-year-old. There's a chance he never runs on dirt again because the turf division in the U.S. often's never as deep as the dirt handicap division. Catholic Boy could pick up paycheck after paycheck by dominating on the grass.

Then again, if you want to win the biggest purses in the states, dirt's where it's at. We must wait and see with Catholic Boy. Thomas has yet to decide where he'll make his 2019 debut.