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A rainbow over the Pegasus statue at Gulfstream Park.
The fourth running of the formerly $9 million downgraded to $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) is Saturday at Gulfstream Park and all the horses entered are on the grounds now. A full field of 12 was drawn for the World Cup with no also-eligibles. Immediately before the Pegasus is the 2nd running of the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), which drew 13 (12 will start, with Tusk the also-eligible). For the first time, both the Pegasus and Pegasus Turf will be run free of any medications on race day, heralding a new era in the sport of Thoroughbred racing in North America. The medication-free policy is consistent with the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) standards.
Here are some photos of the horses prepping for the races from Thursday and Friday mornings. In contrast with earlier in the week, conditions were back to normal with partly cloudy skies and temperatures around 60 both mornings. Heavy rain fell Thursday night, downgrading the main track to "good" on Friday and moving most of Friday's turf races to the main. Spun to Run and Omaha Beach were both scratched from the Pegasus on Thursday afternoon. Spun to Run's trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero said, "After he came to Palm Meadows [Training Center] we noticed he was a little hot so we clipped his hair. Then two weeks later we noticed some spots, hives on his body. We wanted to run, but he's a little hot and sore and we always want to do the right thing for the horse. It's unfortunate, but we want the best for him."
|Admission Office galloped on the main track and schooled in the paddock. The 30-1 longshot in the Turf drew post 7 for trainer Brian Lynch and jockey Flavien Prat.
|Arklow galloped twice around. Trainer Brad Cox said, "Honestly, it's really with the break with him. Sometimes he breaks really sloppy, doesn't get involved at all and just comes running. Even if the pace is slow he will close into a slow pace. He's honest. There are times when you think there is a lot of speed, or a little bit more speed for maybe a marathon route and you he's going to be way in the back and he breaks and he's mid-pack. He's always throwing us a curve ball. He's a hard horse to figure out and plot where he's going to be in a race. He'll just break and you never really know where he's going to put himself. It's kind of odd, but the main thing is he runs down the lane every time."
|Bodexpress galloped once around. The 30-1 outsider drew the outside post (originally the 12 but will move in to the 10 due to the scratches) for trainer Gustavo Delgado and jockey Emisael Jaramillo.
|Channel Cat went out for a gallop. The Todd Pletcher trainee is a 10-1 shot in the Turf from post 5 with jockey John Velazquez.
|Diamond Oops was out before sunrise. He comes to the Pegasus off his Mr. Prospector (G3) win at Gulfstream. Julien Leparoux gets the call for trainer Patrick Biancone.
|Henley's Joy galloped once around in preparation for the Turf. Owner Jeff Bloom said, "He's arguably one of the toughest-luck horses that I've ever had. He got to display his talent in the Invitational. He's a horse that has had a lot of bad trips. He's a horse that we try to find firm, dry turf for. No matter where we take him, we end up finding wet and rain. Hopefully the rain stays away. He's a horse that definitely prefers a firm course without a lot of give in it. The talent is there. If he gets the right trip he's the kind of horse that could show up in the winner's circle."
|Higher Power went out for a pre-dawn gallop and then schooled in the paddock in the afternoon. Trainer John Sadler said, "I think he's effective anywhere from a mile and an eighth to a mile and a quarter. My concern would be if Gulfstream is speed-favoring. When he runs a big race, he doesn't need to close from far back. The key is to get away. That's the big thing. He is training super, as good as ever if not better."
|Instilled Regard galloped both mornings, one of three Chad Brown trainees in the Turf. Brown said, "He's coming in well. He's coming off a very nice win over the turf course at Gulfstream. He got a very good trip and he performed well. He's going to have to step up; this is a tougher field. But he's training like a horse that is capable of stepping up. He's constantly improving. He's a real classy horse with a good turn of foot. Hopefully, he steps it up on Saturday."
|Magic Wand took to the main track on Friday. Runner-up in last year's Pegasus Turf and Breeders' Cup Turf, she returns to the site of her first U.S. start. Ryan Moore gets the call for trainer Aidan O'Brien.
|Mo Forza went out for a jog. Trainer Peter Miller said, "I wasn't a happy camper last year (due to the rain). All these races that we're in look really tough, but we're hoping to go home this year in a much better frame of mind."
|Mr. Freeze galloped once around. Trainer Dale Romans said, "He had a really good 3-year-old year. He won the West Virginia Derby and ran really fast. When he turned 4, he had a little issue and we had to give him some time. He came back and ran big at Ellis Park and won the stake at Churchill. He was third in the Grade 1 last time, so he's going in the right direction. The key to the whole thing is just doing well at the time. You have to be talented horse to even get here, and now you've just got to be on your game and doing the best you can."
|Mucho Gusto went out for a jog. New jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. gets the call for trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert planned to offer Ortiz the mount on Mucho Gusto if he ran him in the one-mile Fred Hooper (G3) on the Pegasus undercard. Baffert said, "Lasix is probably more important in dirt racing because of the kickback. We have a lot of kickback. In turf racing, they don't need Lasix on turf because there's no kickback. It's going to be interesting. Everybody seems to be leaning that way. It never entered my thought about worrying about that part of it."
|Next Shares jogged in the morning then schooled in the paddock in the afternoon. The Richard Baltas trainee is a 30-1 outsider in the Turf from post 9. Jose Valdivia Jr. will be in the irons.
|Omaha Beach galloped on Thursday and then X-rays detected the start of a cannon bone fracture in his right rear ankle so he has been scratched from the race and officially retired. Owner Rick Porter said, "This horse means so much to the people connected to him because he has so much personality. We've just had bad luck with him. He was going into the Derby in great shape as the favorite and we had to scratch him. Then in this one he was doing great, was going to be the heavy favorite and be his last race, and this happens. This race meant so much to all of us, but you have to put the horse first. Once the X-rays were read, there was no talk of running. When I talked on the phone with (trainer) Richard Mandella and (jockey) Mike Smith, I think all three of us were crying. It's a shame we never got to see him at his best. He and Songbird were the two best horses I ever had and I've been fortunate enough to have some good ones. This guy, between his personality, his talent and his bad luck, was special."
|Sacred Life galloped on the main track, one of three Chad Brown trainees in the Turf. Brown said, "He's a rapidly improving horse with a big turn of foot. He drew a challenging post out there in the 11, but he's training exceptionally well. If he works out a trip he's capable of winning."
|Sadler's Joy was out at sunrise. Trainer Tom Albertrani said of his Turf hope, "I don't have a problem with that. I start a lot of my horses without Lasix. It's something we really use as a preventative, it's something everyone uses. So, we just want to be on the same level playing field as everyone else, but I don't think it's an issue that we have to run on it."
|Seeking the Soul walked the shedrow, preparing for his 3rd attempt at the Pegasus. Trainer Dallas Stewart said, "He ran second last year to a great horse," Stewart said. "He came back and had a big win in the Stephen Foster [G2], he's healthy and he's ready to go. This horse is always doing good, but he's had a couple really good works as of late," Stewart said. "He worked three-quarters in [1:12 Jan. 10] and followed it up going in a minute. He's feeling good, he's galloping good, so we'll see. He's made close to $3.5 million so maybe he'll add some more millions to that. He's just a warrior. He's 7 and I could picture him running a couple more years," Stewart said. "If that happens, I don't know, but I can see it happening."
|Tax was out during morning twilight. Trainer Danny Gargan said, "Even with the scratches, if this horse wins, it will still be a huge day. I'm just proud that he can run in these kind of events. He is a tremendous animal. Instead of four horses, I see three going for the lead, and we'll sit on the rail fourth instead of fifth. The big thing is that we won't be 12-1 anymore. Maybe it will be 5-1."
|Tenfold walked the shedrow. Owner-breeder Run Winchell said, "An opportunistic spot, basically is what it is, based on who is going and his ability to run in the money, is what we're hoping for. Obviously there's a big favorite, but you don't run away from one horse. It's been a little frustrating from the perspective that he runs a good race and you expect him to step up. He kind of runs his race here and there. We're hoping the here and there is Gulfstream. We'll see. We have yet to find the key."
|True Timber jogged on the main track. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "You have to compliment Gulfstream Park and The Stronach Group to take a step in that direction; it's probably overdue that we go with no Lasix and other medications. [True Timber] went to Dubai and ran without medication. He's an older horse. He should be fine. Like I said, we have to make some changes and they're making the change."
|War Story was out before sunrise. The Elizabeth Dobles trainee is a 30-1 outsider in the Pegasus from post 7, and will have Joel Rosario in the irons.
|Without Parole galloped twice around, one of three Chad Brown trainees in the Turf. Brown said, "His first race for us in the Breeders' Cup was a tall order and he really did well. He ran extraordinarily well. We freshened him up just a touch and pointed him to this race. I think he's coming into it well. I don't think the distance will be a problem for him. He drew a good cozy post inside I'm excited to see him run."
|Zulu Alpha went out for a gallop. Owner Michael Hui said, "Zulu has exceeded expectations. I feel so fortunate to have a horse like this and one thing that I have picked up about this game is that it is race to race. He's got to be competitive in this race. He's got to come out of the race, come back and train again. Everything is on the table."
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