For the third straight year, the top two finishers from the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) are set to contest the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park, but this time around the Breeders’ Cup representation will extend well beyond just the Classic.
Accelerate and Gunnevera were the gallant 1-2 finishers in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, and that would normally stamp them as clear standouts in the Pegasus World Cup. McKinzie, who finished twelfth in the Classic before rebounding with a sensational win in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I), is also under consideration for the Pegasus and would loom a major challenger if he does run.
But while Accelerate will almost assuredly start as the favorite, with Gunnevera and McKinzie likewise receiving support, the nine-furlong distance of the Pegasus World Cup opens the door to the possibility of an upset from City of Light, the powerful winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).
With the Dirt Mile held over eight furlongs and the Classic over ten, the distance of the Pegasus World Cup is something of a middle-distance meeting ground that could produce a thrilling showdown between the two Breeders’ Cup champions. The last time Accelerate and City of Light met going nine furlongs, City of Light defeated his rival by a neck in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II)—a race that marked the only defeat of Accelerate’s stellar 2018 campaign.
Backing up a three-pronged Dirt Mile assault on the Pegasus World Cup are Seeking the Soul and Bravazo, who finished second and third behind City of Light at Churchill Downs. Like their Breeders’ Cup conqueror, Seeking the Soul and Bravazo are much more than just milers—Seeking the Soul won the 2017 Clark Handicap (gr. I) going nine furlongs and Bravazo was a close runner-up in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) traveling 9.5 furlongs, so the distance of the Pegasus should be right up their alley.
All told, six Breeders’ Cup veterans are currently eyeing the Pegasus World Cup, which marks a slight decrease from 2018 when seven starters from the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup tackled the Pegasus. But the overall quality of the Breeders’ Cup representatives in 2019—the top two from the Classic, the top three from the Dirt Mile, plus the beaten Classic second choice McKinzie—is arguably unmatched and promises to produce quite a show on January 26th.