Pegasus Contenders Prep at GPW

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Sharp Azteca | Lauren King

GI Cigar Mile victor Sharp Azteca (Freud), GSW War Story (Northern Afleet) and MGSW Gunnevera (Dialed In) both tuned up for the Jan. 27 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. with five-panel breezes over a sloppy Gulfstream Park West track Saturday morning.

Piloted by jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., Sharp Azteca covered the distance in a sharp in 1:00.60 (4/23) (video). A close and gutsy second to Battle of Midway (Smart Strike) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile, the bay romped by 5 1/4 lengths last time in the Cigar Mile Dec. 2.

“He was sharp–visually, very impressive. He was clipping off :12’s,” said Pegasus World Cup stakeholder Ron Paolucci, who struck a deal with Sharp Azteca’s owner Ivan Rodriguez last week to run the 5-year-old in the $16 million event.

Paolucci and trainer Jorge Navarro, conditioner of Sharp Azteca, will also be represented in the Pegasus by War Story, who worked the same distance in a bullet :59.60 (video). Fifth to champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) in last year’s Pegasus, the GII Brooklyn S. winner was last seen finishing fourth to likely Pegasus favorite Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 4.

“Jorge said last week this was going to be his money work for the Pegasus, and he’s one of those he can work however you want him to work,” Paolucci said. “I think we got out of it what we needed.”

Gunnevera also breezed five furlongs Saturday under jockey Luis Saez, covering the distance in 1:03.60 (16/23) in company with a stablemate (video). The chestnut will run in the Pegasus for owner Salomon Del-Vallee and Pegasus stakeholders William Gallo and Bella Inizio Farm.

“It was very good. The track was very sloppy this morning, so I told Luis to take it easy,” trainer Antonio Sano said. “He went in 1:03 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.”

A two-time graded winner, Gunnevera finished second in the GI Travers S. Aug. 26 and dead-heated for fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Seeking the Soul Breezes for Pegasus

GI Clark H. upsetter Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}) put in his penultimate breeze in preparation for the Pegasus at the Fair Grounds Saturday, covering five furlongs in 1:00.40 (2/60).

“We’re really happy with him,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “He went well, he came back great and looked sharp. We’re getting ready to march on and get ready. When you’re two weeks out you want to get a good work in him and the next one, we’ll just go slower.”

Stewart added that the homebred would breeze once more in NOLA next weekend before shipping to Florida Jan. 24.

 

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