A fantastic field of 12 will go postward in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The cast includes some of the best horses in training with Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate; Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) standout City of Light; Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) hero Patternrecognition; and local hopeful and Classic second Gunnevera.
However, the winner of the richest race in North America, to the surprise of many, will be Bravazo.
The Calumet Farm homebred draws the rail for his 2019 debut for legendary conditioner D. Wayne Lukas. The dark bay son of Awesome Again has been a high-level performer throughout his career and he ran some huge races against top foes in 2018 that I can’t ignore.
Bravazo kicked off his 11-race sophomore campaign with an allowance tally at Oaklawn Park and followed it up with a nose score in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. The Kentucky-bred raced in each of the three legs of the Triple Crown during the spring, with his best result coming when a closing second in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Unlike many of his counterparts, the durable colt wasted little time in returning to the races, showing up in the Haskell Stakes (G1) in late July. Bravazo ran into a buzzsaw in Good Magic at Monmouth Park, though he did check in a superb second while six lengths clear of his nearest pursuer.
He came right back to finish a fine third against a pronounced track bias in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. A rare clunker followed when Bravazo finished well back in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), but he got right back to his good self with two of his better races to date. The three-year-old was a very good third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) prior to coming within a neck of bagging the Clark Handicap (G1) against his elders.
The admirable and underrated four-year-old has trained in fine fashion for the Pegasus and gets what could be a difference-making draw on the rail. Bravazo has a versatile running style, and garnering the services of the leading rider at Gulfstream Park, Luis Saez, is a major coup.
Lukas, still a master of his craft at 83 years young, has won just about every important race on the calendar in his unparalleled career. The Coach owns 14 Triple Crown wins, 20 Breeders’ Cup trophies and four Eclipse Awards, among countless other wins and awards. It would be a fitting result to give Lukas a feather in his cap in the twilight of his career.
Bravazo is just the kind of talented, hard-trying, classy and durable colt to do so. I’m on Team Bravazo and Team Lukas in the Pegasus World Cup.