Weekend Lineup Presented By Hialeah Park NHC Qualifier: Pegasus Tops Busy Saturday - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Weekend Lineup Presented By Hialeah Park NHC Qualifier: Pegasus Tops Busy Saturday

Cyberknife gallops at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27

The $3 million Pegasus World Cup highlights this weekend's live racing action, with 12 horses expected to line up for the 1 1/8-mile contest at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Brad Cox trainee Cyberknife is the program favorite, and will be making the final start of his career before heading off to stud. His rivals include Proxy, a Grade 1 winning son of Tapit for trainer Michael Stidham, as well as 2022 Florida Derby (G1) hero White Abarrio for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Twelve entrants and two also-eligibles have also signed on for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), one race earlier on the card. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the last two editions and will send out Wit with Jose Ortiz aboard. The Brazilian-bred Ivar, fourth in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) last out, tops the field as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Paulo Lobo.

In total, Gulfstream's Saturday card includes seven graded stakes races with 83 entrants, including also-eligibles.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues with a stop in Hot Springs this weekend. The $750,000 Southwest Stakes is led by Bob Baffert trainee Arabian Knight, while Brad Cox has three entrants and Ken McPeek another two in the field of nine.

A pair of Oaks preps will be held on Saturday, with the Martha Washington at Oaklawn and the G3 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita. The highlight of those races is likely Justique, the promising come-from-behind runner trained by John Shirreffs.

Other significant stakes action around the country comes from Aqueduct (Saturday's G3 Toboggan) and Sam Houston. The latter has a big card planned for Saturday. Five stakes, two graded, are headlined by the G3 Houston Ladies Classic in which Grade 1 winner Pauline's Pearl is the morning-line favorite. The G3 John Connally Turf Cup drew a full field of 12 and is topped by comebacking Spooky Channel for trainer Jason Barkley.


3:10 p.m. – Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn – OAKS PREP

The Martha Washington, which will offer 40 points (20-8-6-4-2, respectively) to the top five finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks, is headlined by program favorite Defining Purpose for trainer Kenny McPeek and unbeaten Olivia Twist for trainer Todd Fincher.

Defining Purpose concluded her 2-year-old campaign with a 5 ¼-length victory in the inaugural $150,000 Year's End Stakes at one mile Dec. 31 at Oaklawn. Defining Purpose was among four winners for McPeek on the Dec. 31 card, the first in Oaklawn history exclusively for 2-year-olds.

Olivia Twist (3 for 3) exits the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes at 1 mile Dec. 17 at Remington Park. She has won her three starts by a combined 19 ½ lengths.

Martha Washington Entries

3:10 p.m. – G3 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita – OAKS PREP

With a come-from-behind style that leaves her backers on the edge of their seats, Justique, idle since Nov. 19, heads a field of six sophomore fillies going a flat mile in Saturday's $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes. In her best race to date, Justique rallied from last under Victor Espinoza to win the seven furlong Desi Arnaz Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths at Del Mar on Nov. 19.

Justique was entered in the G3 Santa Ynez, rescheduled to Jan. 8 after weather-related cancellations, but Shirreffs scratched the filly when she developed a fever. Now recovered and having posted works on Jan. 13 and Jan. 21, Justique will be trying two turns for the second time in what will be her fourth start on Saturday.

Although Justique will no doubt command a good deal of attention on Saturday, Bob Baffert's Faiza, idle since winning the G1 Starlet going 1 1/16 miles at Los Alamitos Dec. 10, has plenty of natural speed and should be extremely tough to beat as she tries to remain unbeaten in her third start.

The Las Virgenes winner will receive 20 qualifying points to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 5, with eight, six, four and two points going to the second through fifth place finishers.

Las Virgenes Entries

4:40 p.m. – G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream

The narrow 5-2 program favorite for the Pegasus Turf is Ivar, a Brazilian-bred multiple Group 1 winner in Argentina that has won three of 12 starts in the U.S. topped by the 2020 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland. He has run in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) each of the last three years, running third in 2021 and fourth in 2020 and 2022, the latter to Eclipse Award finalist Modern Games. Ivar's total margin of defeat in those races was 4 ½ lengths.

Third choice at 6-1 in the Pegasus Turf is Charles Fipke's Grade 1-winning homebred Lady Speightspeare, entered to face males for the first time. The 5-year-old daughter of champion Speightstown owns seven wins from 13 career starts, six of them in graded-stakes including the 2020 Natalma (G1) at Woodbine second time out. Last time out she had a three-race win streak snapped when third by 1 ½ lengths at odds of 32-1 in the 1 3/16-mile Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

Graham Motion-trained stablemates Speaking Scout and Hurricane Dream are also entered in the Pegasus Turf. Speaking Scout won two of his last three starts to end 2022, the Hawthorne Derby and Hollywood Derby (G1), both at 1 1/8 miles, the latter at Del Mar Dec. 3. In between, the 4-year-old Mr Speaker gelding was second by a half-length as the favorite in Santa Anita's Twilight Derby (G2). Hurricane Dream will be making his North American debut in the Pegasus Turf; the 6-year-old gelding won six of 18 starts in Europe where he was group-stakes placed four times, most recently beaten a head when second in the one-mile Brunner Oettingen Rennen (G2) last September in Germany.

Despite the Jan. 19 retirement of two-time defending Pegasus Turf winner Colonel Liam, trainer Todd Pletcher can win a third straight Pegasus Turf with Wit. A two-time graded stakes winner on dirt, the 4-year-old Practical Joke colt won the Better Talk Now, was second in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) and Bryan Station (G3), and third by less than a length to Speaking Scout in the Hollywood Derby in his four turf tries.

Also among the dozen contenders are multiple graded stakes winners City Man and Decorated Invader, both trained by Christophe Clement, who respectively ran 1-2 in Gulfstream's Dec. 31 Fort Lauderdale (G2). City Man is a 6-year-old New York-bred son of Mucho Macho Man, the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner also campaigned by Dean and Patti Reeves. City Man enters the Pegasus Turf riding a three-race win streak, all in stakes. Decorated Invader has a win and two seconds from four starts this year since coming back from a 16-month break between starts in a one-mile optional claiming allowance Sept. 24 at Pimlico, where he closed to within a nose of winner English Tavern.

Pegasus Turf Entries

5:40 p.m. – G1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream

Cyberknife is scheduled to make the final start of his racing career Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the $3-million Pegasus World Cup (G1). Win or lose, Cyberknife, who drew Post No. 10 in the 12-horse Pegasus field, will be retired to begin stallion duty at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington. Cyberknife established himself as one of the premier colts in the 3-year-old division last year while winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn and the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park and Grade 1 placings in the Pennsylvania Derby and Travers. He finished his 3-year-old campaign with a photo-finish second behind Cody's Wish in a most memorable edition of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland.

Proxy, who is rated second in the morning line at 9-2, enters the Pegasus World Cup off his first career Grade 1 victory in the Nov. 25 Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs. The Michael Stidham-trained 5-year-old son of Tapit pressed the pace before edging clear nearing the wire to win the first stakes of his 13-race career, during which he has had four runner-up finishes in Grade 2 stakes.

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who leads all trainers with victories during the current Championship Meet at Gulfstream in his quest to defend his 2021-2022 title, is represented in the Pegasus World Cup field by three horses: Daniel Alonso's Skippylongstocking (5-1; Post No. 7), C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable LLC's White Abarrio (10-1; Post No 4) and Fernando Vine Ode and Michael and Jules Iavarone's O'Connor (10; Post No. 12).

Trainer Bob Baffert will send Michael Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman's Defunded to the Gulfstream Park track Saturday in search of his third success in the Pegasus World Cup. Defunded (6-1; Post No. 5) is coming off back-to-back victories in the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita and Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has made a late change in jockeys for Willis Horton Racing LLC's Last Samurai, who will be ridden by international superstar Frankie Dettori. The 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon (20-1; Post No. 9), who finished fourth behind Proxy in the Clark, won the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) last season.

Bruce Lundsford's Art Collector (10-1; Post No. 6) will be one of six Grade or Group 1 winners in Saturday's 12-horse field, having won the 2021 Woodward (G1) at Belmont Park. The Bill Mott-trained 6-year-old campaigner won his second straight Charles Town Classic (G2) last season.

Gary Barber's Get Her Number (15-1; Post No. 8) enters the Pegasus World Cup off a sharp runner-up finish in the Cigar Mile, in which he finished a head behind victorious Mind Control and a half-length ahead of White Abarrio.

Steve Moger's Stilleto Boy (30-1; Post No. 11), who finished third in last year's Pegasus World Cup, is coming off a second-place finish in the San Antonio (G2) at Santa Anita, where he ran his career-best while winning the Californian (G2) last March.

Cash is King LLC and LC Racing LLC's Ridin With Biden (20-1; Post No. 3) drew into the 12-horse field Sunday upon the defection of Super Corinto. The Butch Reid-trained 5-year-old gelding has won three of his last four starts, including a victory in the Greenwood Cup (G3) at Parx.

Pegasus Entries

5:57 p.m. – G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn – DERBY PREP

Trainer Bob Baffert will start dazzling Keeneland debut winner Arabian Knight in Saturday's $750,000 Southwest, Oaklawn's second of four Kentucky Derby points races. The Southern California-based Arabian Knight will be making just his second career start and first around two turns in the Southwest. Arabian Knight, the even-money program favorite, is the most lightly raced horse Baffert has brought to Oaklawn for a Kentucky Derby prep.

Brad Cox will be represented by three horses in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, including unbeaten Corona Bolt (two for two), stakes winner Jace's Road, and Hit Show, a Dec. 17 entry-level allowance winner at Oaklawn. Corona Bolt will be making his two-turn and 3-year-old debut in the Southwest; the son of Bolt d'oro was a front-running 6 ¾-length winner of the $100,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at six furlongs Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds.

The remainder of the nine-horse field is as follows: Sun Thunder, last-out maiden winner trained by Ken McPeek; Western Ghent, D. Wayne Lukas trainee with the most starts of any horse in the field at nine; Frosted Departure, listed stakes winner trained by McPeek; Red Route One, G1-placed Steve Asmussen trainee; and El Tomate, winner of his lone start for owner/trainer Miguel Silva.

The Southwest will offer 40 points (20-8-6-4-2, respectively) to the top five finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby (excluding Baffert trainees).

Southwest Entries

6:25 p.m. – G3 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston

Grade 1 winner Pauline's Pearl is among seven older fillies and mares entered for the 1 1/16-mile Houston Ladies Classic. A ​5-year-old daughter of Tapit out of Grade 1 winner Hot Dixie Chick, by Dixie Union, Pauline's Pearl captured the 2021 edition of the race for trainer Steve Asmussen and followed up with an elite-level win ​in ​the La Troienne (G1) at Churchill Downs. An earner of $1,695,200 in 15 career efforts, the freshened mare will be starting for the first time since finishing third in the Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2) July 2 at the Lousiville track.

Trainer Bret Calhoun has entered Hidden Connection, a Connect filly who won the 2021 Pocahontas Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs, before finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) for owners Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbreds. In her most recent start, she won an allowance-optional claiming race by 7 1/2 lengths Dec. 16 at Fair Grounds, where she was the runner-up in the 2022 Fair Grounds Oaks.

Houston Ladies Classic Entries


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