Big scratches shake up Pegasus World Cup field

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With Champion 3-Year-Old Male finalist Omaha Beach and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run out for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, the field has opened up for the remaining 10 horses. Spun to Run was withdrawn with hives, and even money favorite Omaha Beach scratched due to swelling in his right hind leg.

Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto and John Sadler’s Higher Power take over as two of the favorites. Below are updated odds and post positions for the Pegasus World Cup, as well as the Pegasus World Cup Turf.

The 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series will take place on Saturday, Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida from 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET. Post time for the Pegasus World Cup Turf is approximately 4:49 p.m. ET, and post time for the Pegasus World Cup is approximately 5:34 p.m. ET. Watch live race coverage and analysis on NBC, and on the NBC Sports app.

Stream the Pegasus World Cup here.

$3 million Pegasus World Cup post positions and odds as of Jan. 24:

  1. True Timber (15-1), trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, jockey Joe Bravo
  2. Tax (8-1), trainer Danny Gargan, jockey Jose Ortiz
  3. Diamond Oops (15-1), trainer Patrick Biancone, jockey Julien Leparoux
  4. Seeking the Soul (30-1), trainer Dallas Stewart, jockey John Velazquez
  5. Omaha Beach (SCRATCHED), trainer Richard Mandella, jockey Mike Smith
  6. Higher Power (6-1), trainer John Sadler, jockey Flavien Prat
  7. War Story (30-1), trainer Elizabeth Dobles, jockey Joel Rosario
  8. Mr Freeze (20-1), trainer Dale Romans, jockey Luis Saez
  9. Spun to Run (SCRATCHED), trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero, jockey Javier Castellano
  10. Mucho Gusto (9-2), trainer Bob Baffert, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
  11. Tenfold (30-1), trainer Steve Asmussen, jockey Tyler Gaffalione
  12. Bodexpress (30-1), trainer Gustavo Delgado, jockey Emisael Jaramillo

$1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf post positions and odds as of Jan. 24:

  1. Zulu Alpha (12-1), trainer Mike Maker, jockey Tyler Gaffalione
  2. Arklow (6-1), trainer Brad Cox, jockey Luis Saez
  3. Without Parole (GB) (4-1), trainer Chad Brown, jockey Frankie Dettori
  4. Sadler’s Joy (8-1), trainer Tom Albertrani, jockey Javier Castellano
  5. Channel Cat (10-1), trainer Todd Pletcher, jockey John Velazquez
  6. Instilled Regard (10-1), trainer Chad Brown, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
  7. Admission Office (30-1), trainer Brian Lynch, jockey Flavien Prat
  8. Henley’s Joy (30-1), trainer Mike Maker, jockey Julien Leparoux
  9. Next Shares (30-1), trainer Richard Baltas, jockey Jose Valdivia Jr.
  10. Mo Forza (5-1), trainer Peter Miller, jockey Joel Rosario
  11. Sacred Life (FRA) (12-1), trainer Chad Brown, jockey Jose Ortiz
  12. Magic Wand (IRE) (7-2), trainer Aidan O’Brien, jockey Ryan Moore

Trainer Bob Baffert captured the very first Pegasus World Cup back in 2017 with Arrogate, and this year, Mucho Gusto could give him another win. With two of his biggest threats now gone, Mucho Gusto’s 9-2 odds make him one of the frontrunners heading into the $3 million race. This will be his first start at Gulfstream.

His last time out, he finished 4th in the G3 Oklahoma Derby back in September, but he’s seen his fair share of close misses. Over the summer he took third to Code of Honor in the Travers (G1) and finished second behind Champion 3-Year-Old Male Maximum Security in the G1 Haskell. His last victory came on June 16 in the Affirmed Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. Irad Ortiz Jr., the newly minted Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey, will take the reins from Joe Talamo.

Coming out of the No. 6 spot with 6-1 odds, 5-year-old Higher Power finally hit his stride when he won the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) back in August at Del Mar by a whopping 5 1/4 lengths. He managed to salvage a third place finish in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) in September after a bad stumble at the beginning of the race, and most recently took third again, this time in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2.

Tax (8-1) is the only horse in the Pegasus World Cup field who has won a race (his first career win) without the drug Lasix, which is banned from both events on Saturday for the first time ever. In his most recent race, he took second in the Discovery Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct in November despite being the 6-5 favorite. He ran in the Kentucky Derby (finished 15th, placed 14th), Belmont (4th) and Travers (7th) to little fanfare but does boast a win in the G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Irad Ortiz Jr. hands the reins over to his brother Jose Ortiz.

Last year’s Pegasus World Cup runner up Seeking the Soul gets another shot, albeit 30-1, on the Gulfstream dirt. Now 7 years old, he enters the new year off months of disappointing Grade 1 finishes, including 4th in the Awesome Again Stakes and 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Seeking the Soul, who is owned by mining magnate Charles Fipke, hasn’t win a race since the G2 Stephen Foster Stakes last June. This will be his third time running in the Pegasus World Cup (he finished 5th in 2018). Fellow 30-1 longshot War Story (No. 7) will also run in his third Pegasus World Cup.

Bodexpress demanded the country’s attention last spring when he ran the whole entire Preakness Stakes riderless after throwing his jockey John Velazquez right out of the gate. Most recently, he took third place in the G3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream in December, but not without throwing another jockey (his Pegasus rider Emisael Jaramillo) while loading into the gate. Earlier last year, he finished one spot ahead of Tax in the Kentucky Derby and took second in the Florida Derby, also at Gulfstream, behind Maximum Security.

What to know about the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series

One year after finishing second in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf, Aidan O’Brien’s mare Magic Wand (IRE) is the 7/2 favorite. The globetrotting 5-year-old closed out 2019 with a three-race stint in Australia, where she finished 10th in the G1 Melbourne Cup then won the G1 Seppelt MacKinnon Stakes four days later, and a second in a Grade 1 race in Hong Kong.

Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer Chad Brown fields three horses on the turf: dirt-to-turf convert Instilled Regard, French-bred Sacred Life and Without Parole (GB), who will be running in his second career start on this side of the pond.

Champion Male Turf Horse finalist Mo Forza is on a roll after winning all three races he’s run in since breaking his maiden. The 4-year-old son of Uncle Mo notably took the G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar in November, and heads into the weekend with 5-1 odds.

Sadler’s Joy, the 7-year-old son of dominant turf sire Kitten’s Joy and half sibling to fellow invitee Henley’s Joy, heads to Gulfstream at 8-1 odds with a number of graded stakes placings and almost $2.5 million in career earnings. Though he’s only finished outside of the money five times in 22 starts since breaking his maiden, Sadler’s Joy only has one Grade 1 win: the Sword Dancer Stakes way back in August of 2017.

Calumet Farm had a phenomenal 2019 season, they’ll look to start 2020 off right with Todd Pletcher-trained Channel Cat in the Pegasus World Cup Turf at 10-1 odds. The 5-year-old has five firsts in 20 starts but hasn’t claimed a win since July after leading wire-to-wire in the G2 Bowling Green Stakes.

Already 7 years old, it wasn’t until 2019 that Calumet-bred Zulu Alpha (12-1) seemed to really hit his stride. His $1.1 million earnings for 2019 far outpaces his $161,000 the year before, thanks in part to wins in the G3 Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs and back-to-back graded wins at Gulfstream Park. Most recently, he finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

2019 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) winner Helney’s Joy will compete against her sibling Sadler’s Joy, by way of their shared sire Kitten’s Joy. With just over $1 million in earnings so far, the 30-1 longshot will be looking to snap a cold streak that hasn’t seen a win since July.

Watch the Pegasus World Cup on NBC, and the NBC Sports app on Saturday, January 25 from 4:30 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET.

Flightline, Pletcher, Godolphin lead way at Eclipse Awards

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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Flightline ran away in all six of his races, and ran away with top honors at the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night.

And trainer Todd Pletcher, for the first time in nearly a decade, received the sport’s top prize as well.

Flightline – the now-retired winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten six-race career – won Horse of the Year as well as the Eclipse as top Older Dirt Male. It was no surprise that Flightline took home both awards, and he’s now standing stud.

“We’ll hope that his future is as bright as his past,” co-owner Kosta Hronis said.

Godolphin was also a double winner, sweeping the Eclipses as top owner and top breeder for the second consecutive year. It was also the third consecutive top-owner Eclipse for Godolphin.

“This is truly a golden era for Godolphin racing,” said Michael Banahan, the stable’s director of bloodstock. “And these awards and accolades recognize how special it is.”

It was Pletcher’s eighth Eclipse, extending his record for the most by any trainer, and his first since 2014. It was one of the few close races in the voting; Pletcher got 108 first-place votes, while four-time Eclipse winner Chad Brown got 95 and finished second.

“This really is not an individual award. This is a team award,” Pletcher said. “This is an award about the owners, and most importantly, the horses.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Eclipse as top jockey for the fourth time in the last five years; he tied Pat Day and Javier Castellano for third-most in history, behind only seven-time winner Jerry Bailey and five-time winner Laffit Pincay Jr.

Ortiz led all jockeys with more than $37 million in purses in 2022.

“Wow,” Ortiz said. “It’s been an amazing year for me.”

Forte won the Eclipse as 2-year-old male, and will enter this year’s Triple Crown season as one of the early favorites.

“We’re all in this game for a horse like Forte,” said Mike Repole, the horse’s co-owner along with Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and Teresa Viola. “We’re all in this game to one day maybe own a 2-year-old that has a chance. It’s great to have the Kentucky Derby favorite. … Forte’s an incredible horse.”

Epicenter won the 3-year-old male Eclipse, after running second at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, then winning the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga over the summer.

Wonder Wheel was the winner as 2-year-old filly, while Nest won the Eclipse in the 3-year-old filly division. Malathaat was the Eclipse winner for older dirt female, Goodnight Olive for female sprinter and Regal Glory for female turf horse.

Elite Power was picked as the top male sprinter, Modern Games won the Eclipse for male turf horse, and Hewick was the Eclipse winner in the steeplechase division.

Jose Antonio Gomez won as top apprentice jockey.

The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

Trainer Bob Baffert’s ban from racing in New York is over

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Bob Baffert can once again enter horses at New York’s major tracks.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s one-year ban by the New York Racing Association ended Wednesday, allowing him to enter horses as soon as Thursday.

“I was disappointed they even did it, but it’s water under the bridge,” Baffert told The Associated Press by phone.

He was suspended last June for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. He was barred from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. A panel credited Baffert for time served for an initial suspension, which allowed him to return this week.

Aqueduct is currently holding its 44-day winter meet that runs through March 26. Baffert doesn’t typically run horses this time of year in New York; he targets the biggest stakes races at Belmont in the spring and Saratoga in the summer.

Baffert remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., which sidelined him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. The penalty expires shortly after the Kentucky Derby in May. However, Baffert is fighting the suspension in federal court.

The Southern California-based trainer has a big weekend coming up around the country, although not in New York.

He has horses running at three tracks on Saturday.

Defunded is entered in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in Florida, where Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes will be on hand.

Arabian Knight goes into the $750,000 Southwest Stakes as the early favorite at Oaklawn in Arkansas. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby prep race a record-tying five times and will travel to Hot Springs to watch the 3-year-old colt.

“It’s going to be a good test for him. The only way to find out is to run him long,” he said. “It’s going to take a superior horse to do that and I’m hoping that he is.”

The Southwest offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers. Arabian Knight won’t receive any points regardless of his placing because of Baffert’s Derby ban.

Hopper will run in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

On Sunday at the same track, Baffert has entered four of the five horses set to run in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.