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Kentucky-breds aim to continue dominance in Pegasus World Cup

Kentucky-bred runners, topped by multiple Grade 1 winner Code of Honor, will seek to continue their dominance of the Pegasus World Cup (G1) when a strong contingent parades postward in the fifth renewal of the lucrative 1 1/8-mile test at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Jan. 23. Kentucky-bred runners have won each of the first four renewals, beginning with Arrogate in 2017. Gun Runner won the 2018 renewal, followed by City of Light, and Mucho Gusto in 2020.

Nine of the 12 entrants in this year’s $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup hail from the Bluegrass. Code of Honor is the most accomplished, having accumulated a bankroll of $2,644,320 for trainer Shug McGaughey. At three in 2019, the Will Farish homebred son of Noble Mission (GB) won the 2019 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), annexed the Travers S. (G1) and also won the Dwyer S. (G3). Code of Honor has demonstrated a liking for the Gulfstream surface—he won the 2019 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) over the track and finished third in the Florida Derby (G1).

Tyler Gaffalione will ride Code of Honor for the first time in the Pegasus, which is a “Win and You’re In” for the $20 million Saudi Cup.

“Obviously, he rides this racetrack very well and he’s very familiar with it,” McGaughey said of Gaffalione. “He’s a very patient rider and that’s what Code of Honor wants, so I’m please to have him.”

Kentucky-bred Tax, like Code of Honor, will be making his first start of the year in the Pegasus. Owned by Randy Hill, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, and Hugh Lynch, Tax is a multiple Graded stakes winner of $957,060. Bred by Claiborne Farms and Adele Dilschneider, Tax is a son of Arch out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Toll. He enters the Pegasus off a dominating 4 ½-length victory in the Dec. 12 Harlan’s Holiday S. (G3) at Gulfstream. Luis Saez will be back aboard the dark bay gelding.

“He’s better now than he’s ever been,” said trainer Danny Gargan. “We always knew he was a really good horse. He’s grown and developed into a better horse than he was last year. I think with age he’s getting better and getting stronger. I’m expecting a big performance.”

Kentucky-bred Colonel Liam headlines the third running of the $1,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).  Contested at 1 3/16 miles, the World Cup Turf attracted a field of 12, of which nine were bred in Kentucky.

Owned by Robert and Lawana Low, Colonel Liam, the 7-2 morning-line choice, will be making just his sixth career start and first in Graded company for trainer Todd Pletcher. In his previous outing Colonel Liam proved an impressive winner of the Tropical Park Derby over the turf at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream. A 4-year-old son of Liam’s Map and a $1,200,000 OBS April sale graduate, Colonel Liam was bred by Phillips Racing Partnership.

“It’s always fun when you’re training the offspring of a horse that you’ve trained,” said Pletcher who also conditioned Colonel Liam’s sire, a two-time Grade 1 winner on dirt. “It’s great to see Liam’s Map doing well as a stallion and showing his versatility of getting dirt horses and turf horses and good 1-year-olds and showing that he’s capable of siring about any type of horse.”