Local Route to Pegasus Goes Through Fort Lauderdale


Halladay | Sarah Andrew

Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a pair of runners in Saturday's GII Fort Lauderdale S. at Gulfstream Park, the local prep for the Jan. 23 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Harrell Ventures' Halladay (War Front), winner of the Aug. 22 GI Fourstardave H. set the pace before fading to sixth in the Nov. 7 GI Breeders' Cup Mile last time out. The 4-year-old is three-for-three over the Gulfstream lawn where he won the Tropical Park Derby last December and this year's Sunshine Forever S. Stablemate Largent (Into Mischief) has won three of four starts over the Hallandale turf course and will be stepping up to the graded stakes ranks after a pair of 2020 stakes wins. He captured the July 29 Edward P Evans S. at Colonial Downs and the Oct. 9 Bert Allen S. at Laurel.

“This is going to be a tough race. This is a prep with some real teeth to it,” Pletcher said. “I think if either one of them were able to perform well in here it would certainly tell us that they belong in the Pegasus.”

Halladay will be making his first start beyond 1 1/16 miles in the nine-furlong Fort Lauderdale as connections look ahead to the 1 3/16-miles Pegasus next month.

“We're interested in trying to stretch him out. We know that he's fond of the Gulfstream course so we felt like this was sort of a good opportunity to see how he would handle a little more distance,” Pletcher said. “If this were to go really well it would put the Pegasus Turf in play, so that's what we're trying to find out.”

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks Racing Stables' Largent will also be looking to stretch out beyond 1 1/16 miles fo the first time in the Fort Lauderdale.

“He's super consistent, always shows up and runs well. He, too, has always liked Gulfstream. He's definitely one that is capable on the day,” Pletcher said of Largent. “I think as he's matured he's settled a little better, as has Halladay, I think that gives them both the chance of handling the added distance.”

Trainer Mike Maker, who won last year's Pegasus with Zulu Alpha (Street Cry {Ire}), also has two entered in the Fort Lauderdale. Three Diamonds Farm's Tide of the Sea (English Channel), purchased for $80,000 at last year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, will be making his stakes debut Saturday. The 4-year-old was a front-running winner of a 12-furlong allowance at Keeneland last time out Oct. 7. Skychai Racing and David Koenig's Somelikeithotbrown (Big Brown), gate-to-wire winner of the July 26 GII Bernard Baruch H., is coming off a win over New York-bred foes in the Oct. 24 Mohawk S. at Belmont Park.

“We're going to give both of them a shot,” Maker said. “It would be great to get back to the Pegasus.”

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