Pegasus Hopefuls Tune Up


Gun Runner | Lou Hodges photography

Ivan Rodriguez’s Sharp Azteca (Freud) impressed onlookers with a five-furlong work in :59.00 (1/4) (video) Sunday morning over Gulfstream Park West’s main track. Connections are hoping to secure a berth in the Jan. 27 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational for the now-5-year-old, who is coming off a 5 1/4-length victory in the Dec. 2 GI Cigar Mile H.

“After [seeing] this video, I think somebody’s going to jump on this horse,” trainer Jorge Navarro said. “Yes, it was fast, but he has come out of the race so good I can’t be mad at the workout. He did it easy. The kid was just sitting on him. That’s the way he’s training. He wants to do something.”

Sharp Azteca has won three of five lifetime starts at Gulfstream Park, including the GII Gulfstream Park H. last February.

Navarro also sent out Pegasus hopeful War Story (Northern Afleet) to work at Gulfstream Park West Sunday. The 6-year-old went five furlongs in 1:01.20.

“This is what you’re going to see in the morning from him,” Navarro said. “He goes out there and does his job. He’s a professional. He knows what he’s doing.”

War Story finished fifth behind Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) in last year’s inaugural running of the Pegasus. Winner of the GII Brooklyn S. in June, he is coming off a fourth-place finish in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is a confirmed starter in the Pegasus for stakeholder Ron Paolucci and Ashley Quartarolo.

With frigid temperatures expected in New Orleans in the coming week, trainer Steve Asmussen was looking for a little something extra from Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg})’s Sunday work at Fair Grounds and the Hall of Famer got just that as the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner blitzed six furlongs in 1:10.60 (1/6) in company with stakes-placed Gettysburg (Pioneerof the Nile).

The Fair Grounds clockers timed Gun Runner through fractions of :12 2/5, :24, :35 1/5, :47 3/5 and :58 1/5, with gallop-out times of 1:24 3/5 for the seven-eighths and 1:39 1/5 for the mile.

“He worked amazing,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “Time to pick it up with him, and obviously he’s very willing. He looked wonderful and cooled out great. He’s just fast.”

Gun Runner’s half-mile split of :47 3/5 was faster than the day’s offical best-of-93 bullet work of :47.80 and his :58 3/5 easily topped the bullet of 75 workers at five-eighths of :59.20.

“We have a little pending weather coming, and we’re most likely going to miss a couple of days,” Asmussen said. “I really wanted him to get something out of this, in case the weather lingers around. So we did ask him to pick it up today. I thought he did it nicely. He looked great. If all is perfect, we’ll have two more works here before we go to Gulfstream.”

Gun Runner is scheduled to fly to Florida on Jan. 18.

Charles Fipke’s Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}), also prepping for the Pegasus at Fair Grounds, worked four furlongs in :48.00 (4/93) Sunday.

“Very good. Sharp. Looked good,” trainer Dallas Stewart said of the GI Clark H. winner. “He came back great. He galloped out in a minute and change, so I feel good about it. I just wanted him to be sharp. He’s been galloping sharp and I figured the work would be sharp. He’s getting there and I’m very happy with him.”

Seeking the Soul is expected to ship to Florida Jan. 24.

The Pegasus gained another contender with TVG’s Britney Eurton reporting Sunday that Tuesday’s GII San Antonio S. winner Giant Expectations (Frost Giant) will join the line-up.


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