July 31, 2021

Pletcher trio among Pegasus World Cup Turf invitees

Colonel Liam
Colonel Liam wins the Tropical Park Derby (Coglianese Photos/Lauren King)

The third running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) promises to feature a few up-and-comers in the division, judging by the invitations released by Gulfstream Park. Although no internationals are on the list, there’s plenty of domestic intrigue in the 1 3/16-mile affair, worth $1 million on Jan. 23.

Todd Pletcher has three of the 12 in the main group, and all tuned up with wins over the course. Colonel Liam beat his own age group in the Dec. 26 Tropical Park Derby, and boasts gilt-edged form as the fourth in the key Saratoga Derby Invitational last summer. Multiple Grade 3 winner Social Paranoia captured his comeback in a Dec. 16 allowance, and Largent scored a new career high in the Dec. 12 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) over Doswell and Breaking the Rules.

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Also on an upward trajectory is the Shug McGaughey-trained North Dakota. A Medaglia d’Oro half-brother to War Front, North Dakota was a troubled fourth in his Sycamore (G3) stakes debut, then gained compensation in the Nov. 21 Red Smith (G3). Stablemate Breaking the Rules is more exposed these days, but could be rounding back into his sharp form from the winter of 2018-19.

The two invitees with Grade 1s already on their resumes are based in California. Say the Word, winner of the Oct. 18 Northern Dancer Turf (G1) at his former Woodbine home, was most recently third in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) in his debut for Phil D’Amato. Storm the Court, still winless since his 46-1 shock of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), has placed in two of three turf starts. The Peter Eurton pupil exits a second to Smooth Like Strait in the Dec. 26 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2).

Two other Californians have garnered invitations to the Pegasus World Cup (G1) on dirt as well as its Turf version. Mark Glatt’s multiple Grade 2 turfiste Sharp Samurai has expanded his options by placing in both the Pacific Classic (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The versatile Anothertwistafate (first on the also-eligibles in the dirt Pegasus) added a turf win to his ledger in Saturday’s San Gabriel (G2) in his second start with Peter Miller.

Trainer Mike Maker, whose Zulu Alpha starred in the 2020 Pegasus Turf, has Cross Border among the dozen principals. Awarded last summer’s Bowling Green (G2) via disqualification, he missed by a head in the Dec. 19 Buddy Diliberto Memorial at Fair Grounds. Another wintering in New Orleans is Godolphin’s Del Mar Derby (G2) hero Pixelate, who got up in time in the Dec. 26 Woodchopper for Mike Stidham.

As with the main-track Pegasus, four are invited to the reserve list: Grade 1 veteran Next Shares, third in the San Gabriel; multiple Grade 3 scorer Field Pass, the Mathis Brothers Mile fourth, who would give Maker two chances if he gets in; and finally, turf maestro Chad Brown makes an appearance with Analyze It, the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) third last seen flopping in the Oct. 3 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), and late-blooming Greyes Creek, ready for a stakes tilt after extending his winning streak to three in a Dec. 19 Gulfstream allowance.