Youth can trump experience in Carlos Pellegrini, the 'South American Arc'

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

December 15th, 2017

For the first time since 2014, wagering on the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1) will be available to U.S. bettors on Saturday.

Run over 1 1/2 miles on turf at San Isidro outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Pellegrini has long been considered South America's equivalent to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). In other words, it's the continent's most prestigious weight-for-age event.

Although I rarely follow racing in Argentina, the event's importance to the South American turf and the presence of a generally full field has led me in the past to invest in it for fun. Like any other race, I've won some and lost some over the years. Now that it's back on the wagering menu, I'm looking forward to diving back in. The field presently stands at 13.

Puerto Escondido (#5, 2-1) is an early favorite to extend his current win streak to three in the Pellegrini after romping over the course-and-distance Gran Premio Copa de Oro (G1) in late October. He was second to Sixties Song (#4, 8-1) in the Pellegrini last year when still a maiden.

Sixties Song, some may remember, traveled to England in July to compete in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot. He was ultimately outclassed by Enable and the rest, trailing the field of 10 and finishing 35 lengths behind the super filly.

Soft turf was prevalent that day, as it also was in the Grand Premio 25 de Mayo (G1) where he finished third. Sixties Song was most recently sixth in a Group 1 on the dirt at La Plata, and perhaps can find his better form again on firm turf Saturday. However, it's forecasted to be hot in Buenos Aires for the Pellegrini with a rain-producing cold front potentially making its way through the area.

Despite being run in the South American spring, three-year-olds have a decent record of beating their elders in the Pellegrini, Sixties Song being a case in point. That's why I'll be gravitating toward third choice VILLAGE KING (#6, 9-2), who enters on a three-race win streak, including the Gran Premio Jockey Club (G1) over 1 1/4 miles. Smoothly gliding to the front in upper stretch, Village King courageously fended off a late challenge from The Great Day (#10, 5-1) to take the Jockey Club by a head.

Although his pedigree isn't quite as illustrious as Sixties Song's, Village King does descend from a female family American fans might be familiar with. He hails from a Phipps family line that includes third dam Duty Dance, a winner of the Diana H. (G2) at Saratoga, and his fourth dam was Discipline, who captured the Molly Pitcher H., Demoiselle, and a division of the Test back in the 1960s.

By Campanologist, a multiple Group 1 winner in Germany and Italy over 1 1/2 miles as well as the King Edward VII (G2) at Royal Ascot, I don't see the extra two furlongs being a problem for Village King.

The Pellegrini should be the first race available to U.S. bettors following the conclusion of Saturday's program at Gulfstream Park, so watch for Gulfstream Race #12. Post time is 5:25 p.m. (EST).