Aiming for 'Glory' in the Pegasus F/M Turf

Regal Glory winning the GI Matriarch S. | Benoit

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Since its inaugural running in 2017, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational has become one of the marquee events during Gulfstream's Championship Meeting. Its 'Turf' equivalent, which was added in 2019, was won by that season's Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar, and three years later, a division for the fairer set is added to the card, the GIII TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational S.

Formerly the Marshua's River S., the 8 1/2-furlong test for older fillies and mares features a pair of Grade I winners–morning line favorite Peter Brant's Regal Glory (Animal Kingdom) and Lady Speightspeare (Speightstown), a homebred for Charles Fipke.

The former, a half-sister to MGSW Night Prowler (Giant's Causeway), is an eight-time stakes winner, including the most recent Del Mar's GI Matriarch S. Nov. 28. Last season, she also annexed the Plenty of Grace S. and De La Rose S., in addition to finishing runner-up in the GI First Lady S. The daughter of MGSW Mary's Follies was plucked out of the Paul Pompa Jr. dispersal at Keeneland last January by Brant for $925,000.

Lady Speightspeare showed her class early on, taking her career debut while becoming a 'TDN Rising Star' at Woodbine in August before taking the one-mile GI Natalma S. at that venue to cap off her 2-year-old campaign. Back on top in her sophomore reappearance while facing her elders in a Woodbine optional claimer last September, she was scratched after acting up in the gate before Keeneland's GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Oct. 16 and was scratched by her trainer Roger Attfield prior to the Oct. 29 GIII Rubicon Valley View S. Trying a synthetic surface for the first time in the seven-panel GII Bessarabian S. against older rivals at Woodbine Nov. 13, the chestnut rolled home by four lengths before finishing third behind the re-opposing Bipartisanship (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) in her final race of the season in Gulfstream's Tropical Park Oaks Dec. 26. Junior Alvarado rides the 4-year-old for the first time.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, offering very strong candidates in the other two Pegasus races, is represented in this inaugural running by Robert and Lawana Lowe's Sweet Melania (American Pharoah). The consistent filly has hit the board in 12 of 15 lifetime starts, including a recent win over the local turf course in the one-mile GIII Suwanee River S. Dec. 18. On that occasion, she defeated several horses marking their returns here, including runner-up Shifty She (Gone Astray).

“She's had six weeks since [the Suwanee River] and she's eating well, putting on a little more weight,” said Pletcher. “She's also been training very enthusiastically. All the signs you'd like to see. Her coat is better than it was. She just seems to be blossoming right now. This will be a tougher ask, but she's doing great.”

Making her U.S. debut Saturday, Gary Barber and Team Valor's Wakanaka (Ire) (Power {GB}), winner of six of eight starts in Italy while under the care of trainer Diego Dettori. In her final race in Italy, the bay won the G3 Regina Elena Italian 1000 Guineas at Capannelle in Rome last April. Purchased by the current partnership 10 months ago, she suffered from bone bruising after her arrival in the U.S., postponing her Stateside debut.

“Everybody wants to win the 1000 Guineas equivalent. There it's a Group 3, but it's a Classic,” said Team Valor's Barry Irwin. “That's the big focal point for all the fillies.”

He continued, “She was a good 2-year-old. She would have been the second-best 2-year-old filly in Italy. She had six starts: four wins, two seconds. She got beat by the filly [Aria Importante] that wound up being the champion.”

Trained by Bill Mott, the filly will break from post 2 under Umberto Rispoli.

“She's a very likable filly,” said Irwin. “She's got a lot of pizazz about her. And she's got instant turn of foot, which is the one thing that we liked. That's why we buy so many horses over there. You tell them to go and it's like now.”

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