A list of 17 horses officially invited to the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park was announced on Sunday. The 1-1/8 miles Pegasus will be run on January 25, and the previous three winners of the race — Arrogate (2017), Gun Runner (2018) and City of Light (2019) — represented the cream of the older handicap division.
Several changes to this year’s Pegasus World Cup could impact the quality of the field. The Pegasus will be run completely free of race-day medications, and two percent of the purses will be distributed to Thoroughbred aftercare. After racing for a $9 million purse in 2019, the purse for this year’s edition will be $3 million. Note there is competition from a new race, too.
Heading the list of invitees are Maximum Security (who beat older horses for the first time in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct) and McKinzie (runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic). However, both are expected to skip the race and instead point to the new $20 million Saudi Cup in February. Omaha Beach, winner of the Gr. I Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on December 28, could be the post time favorite in his final start before heading off to stud in Kentucky.
Trainer John Sadler has two invitees in San Antonio Stakes winner Gift Box and Pacific Classic winner Higher Power. However, only one of the two is expected to compete, with the other likely to go to the Saudi Cup or stay in California for the Santa Anita Handicap.
The full list of invitees and reserves are: Gift Box, Higher Power, Magic Wand, Math Wizard, Maximum Security, McKinzie, Mr Freeze, Omaha Beach, Roadster, Seeking the Soul, Spun to Run, and Tax.
Reserve Invitees in Order of Preference: Mucho Gusto, War Story, Bravazo, Diamond Oops, and True Timber.
HOY finalists announced
The 2019 Horse of the Year will be announced at the Eclipse Awards dinner January 23 at Gulfstream Park. The top three receiving votes from the 241 eligible to cast ballots representing Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, Equibase, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association were named as finalists last Saturday. The finalists for Horse of the Year:
• Bricks and Mortar, who won all six starts in 2019 (five Grade I races), including the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
• Mitole, the top sprinter/mile who won the Grade I Metropolitan Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
• Maximum Security, winner of the Grade I Florida Derby, Haskell Invitational, and Cigar Mile. Maximum Security was also disqualified after finishing first in the Kentucky Derby.
It is very early in the Santa Anita meet, but a new face in the jockey’s room is already becoming a friend to horseplayers.
Umberto Rispoli, a champion jockey in Italy before recently plying his trade in Hong Kong, has hit the ground running at Santa Anita while riding in the U.S. on a regular basis for the first time.
Rispoli caught the eye winning Sunday’s opener with Lincoln City ($33.60). After setting the pace with Lincoln City, Border Town (Flavien Prat riding) was able to slip thru along the rail entering the stretch to get his neck in front with momentum on his side. Lincoln City responded from a vigorous ride to re-rally between horses and Rispoli was able to outfinish Prat and grab the win.
In Sunday’s finale, Rispoli got Hootie, a horse well known for pulling hard early and for being camera shy, to wait behind horses until the top of the stretch where they angled out and wore down the leaders for the win. The payoff was $9.40.
Rispoli earned his first U.S. win on New Year’s Day with Musawaat ($10.00), and his three wins from 16 mounts are showing a 34 percent profit. When you consider all three wins came on the turf, backing Rispoli on the grass could be a good angle before the rest of the public catches on.
Rispoli is represented by top agent Ron Anderson (who also represents Santa Anita leading rider Joel Rosario), so expect the 31-year-old jockey to continue to get many live chances.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday Race 7: McKale (No. 1). Comebacker from the Bob Baffert stable draws the rail, but he also looks like the speed of the speed and won his debut, so he can fire fresh.