Flavien Prat, a leading rider on the Southern California circuit, will be aboard 2018 Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), the richest race in North America, Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.
Audible’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, confirmed the mount Sunday afternoon after speaking with Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar Farm, which co-owns the 4-year-old colt with China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing.
Prat, 26, moved from his native France to Southern California full-time at the end of 2014 and has won riding titles at Santa Anita and Del Mar. He owns two career Breeders’ Cup victories, including Battle of Midway for WinStar in the 2017 Dirt Mile (G1). Earlier that year, Battle of Midway ran third in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
“Just in talking to the connections, and I talked to Elliot a little while ago, we had discussed Flavien,” Pletcher said. “We had success with him, winning the Breeders’ Cup with him on Battle of Midway. We thought he’d be a good fit, so we decided to go with him.”
Audible has been ridden by Hall of Famers Javier Castellano and John Velazquez in his eighth-race career. Velazquez was aboard for both his maiden win and the Florida Derby, while Castellano has been up for three victories including the Holy Bull (G2) and Cherokee Run Stakes last year.
Velazquez has the call on 2017 Clark Handicap (G1) winner Seeking the Soul in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus, while Castellano is named on 2018 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light.
“[Audible has] had success with both Johnny and Javier,” Pletcher said. “Flavien seems to be riding in really good form. We thought he’d fit him well.”
Pletcher said Audible exited Saturday’s five-furlong breeze in 1:00.98 at Palm Beach Downs in good order. It was his third work since finishing second by a half-length as the favorite in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) Dec. 15.
“All systems go,” Pletcher said.
Gunnevera ‘a Different Horse’ Heading into the Pegasus
Margoth’s Gunnevera continues to please trainer Antonio Sano with his preparation for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old son of Dialed in breezed six furlongs in 1:15.80 under Irad Ortiz Jr. Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park West.
“I feel very happy with him,” said Sano, whose trainee finished third in last year’s Pegasus. “He’s a different horse. He’s a stronger horse.”
Gunnevera, who concluded his 2018 campaign with a runner-up finish behind Pegasus contender Accelerate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs Nov. 3, worked in company with stablemate Cometin.
“He worked really good. He’s doing everything right. Hopefully, he comes back to racing the way he is right now,” said Ortiz, who has the return mount on Gunnevera after guiding him to his runner-up finish in the Classic.
Gunnevera, who has earned $4.1 million in career earnings, captured the 2017 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream. The Antonio Sano-trained 4-year-old son of Dialed In has also won the 2016 Saratoga Special (G2) and the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) and has been Grade 1 stakes-placed in the 2017 Travers (G1) and the 2018 Woodward (G1) at Saratoga, as well as the Classic.
Stronach Stables’ homebred multiple stakes winner Something Awesome continued preparation for the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series with a work over Gulfstream Park’s main track Sunday morning.
The millionaire graded-stakes winner breezed five furlongs in 1:02.33 under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, his regular rider who has a return call for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) – North America’s richest race – Jan. 26.
It was the second local work for Something Awesome, an 8-year-old Awesome Again gelding that was clocked in 1:42.62 for one mile Jan. 5. The horse shipped from trainer Jose Corrales’ home base at Laurel Park in Maryland Christmas Day.
“I liked his work. He worked very steady, the way I expected,” Corrales said Sunday. “I feel like the horse really already acclimatized into this weather. When we first came here, not even fast galloping he’d come back blowing so hard, and now he goes all the way around no problem and finishes like I want him to.”
Something Awesome won five of his first six starts since joining Corrales in the fall of 2017, including victories in the seven-furlong General George (G3) and Harrison E. Johnson Memorial at Laurel and $1.2 million Charles Town Classic (G2), the latter two at 1 1/8 miles.
The 8-year-old Awesome Again gelding has made one start since the Pimlico Special (G3) May 18, finishing second to Maryland Coalition Stakes winner Colonel Sharp in an open seven-furlong allowance Nov. 16 at Laurel. Colonel Sharp came back to win the Dave’s Friend Stakes Dec. 29.
Overall, Something Awesome has nine wins and $1.093 million in purse earnings from 26 career starts. He has raced twice previously at Gulfstream, running third in a pair of seven-furlong optional claiming allowances Jan. 7 and Feb. 17, 2017.
Prado was also aboard as Unbridled Juan for Corrales, who breezed five furlongs in 1:03.15. The 7-year-old Unbridled’s Song gelding went the same distance in 1:04.44 Jan. 5 in his first local work. Winner of the Richard W. Small Stakes at Laurel and Grover ‘Buddy’ Delp Memorial Stakes in his last two starts, Unbridled Juan finished second in the 2018 Dixie (G3) and third in the 2017 Eclipse (G2).
Unbridled Juan has seven wins and $505,323 in purse earnings from 26 career starts. In his lone career try on turf he was fourth in the 2017 King Edward (G2) at Woodbine, but he has also raced five times over its all-weather surface, including the Eclipse.
“Unbridled worked normal for him. They’re both not great work horses but as long as they finish OK and get around there evenly, that’s most important. He came back and cool out right away,” Corrales said. “I know he’s 6 years old but I think he’s now at the peak of where he can be, where he could have been when he was 4 years old but he had his issues. The horse in the morning you really can tell he’s doing well.”
Seeking the Soul
Grade 1 winner Seeking the Soul worked five-eighths of a mile Saturday in a minute flat shortly after the Fair Grounds track opened in preparation for Gulfstream Park’s $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1). Charles Fipke’s 6-year-old homebred horse powered the half-mile in 47 4/5 seconds, according to the official clockers on a busy workout morning.
“Just a strong, basic work for him,” trainer Dallas Stewart said by phone. “That’s him. He’s doing great.”
Seeking the Soul worked the same distance in 59 3/5 seconds a week earlier and three-quarters of a mile in 1:11 the week before in preparation for America’s richest race. Stewart said the horse will have one more workout next Saturday in New Orleans before flying to south Florida on Jan. 22. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the mount.
Seeking the Soul, fifth in last year’s Pegasus, comes into the 1 1/8-mile stakes off of a third-place finish in Churchill Downs’ Grade 1 Clark Handicap, a stakes he captured in 2017. He finished second Nov. 3 behind Pegasus contender City of Light in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
“If he gets a good position and it’s his day, he’s very competitive,” Fipke said by phone. “He’s an outstanding horse, and he deserves to take another shot. The last Pegasus, unfortunately, he got a bone chip that Dr. (Robert) Hunt said probably affected his race, so he only came in fifth. It took a long time for him to recover. But he won a Grade 3 at Churchill, and we’re hoping” for a big performance.
Off almost six months, Seeking the Soul was second by a head in Indiana Grand’s Schaefer Memorial, followed by a disappointing effort in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Woodward. He rebounded to take Churchill’s Grade 3 AckAck under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. as the springboard to the Breeders’ Cup.