First Grade 1 of the Year is a Who’s Who of HRP

The Pegasus World Cup- Grade I

GP Race 12  1 1/8M  Dirt

Purse $500.000 For Four Year

 Olds and Upward

 

A stellar field comes together in Florida for the first major race of the year. While HRP is not willing to pony up the $16,000.000 that the real-life purse would equate to, and in fairness are not asking for $1,000.000 to enter, there is still $500.000 up for grabs here. The field is littered with grade 1 winners including the 2017 BC Classic, Preakness, Travers, Pacific Classic, Clark Handicap and the Foster Handicap so let’s look at each of them.

1 How to Laff, trained by Serenity Stables

Purchased for $400.000 after the Preakness has won once in 5 tries for his new owner. Ran a game second in the PA Derby and finished 8th beaten 2 lengths in the BC Classic from a wide draw. One of several new four-year olds that will be racing their older rivals at equal weights for the first time. Works are fine and has a good draw so would not be a huge surprise, but I will look to one with a more accomplished resume.

2 Hidden Slew Laff, trained by Gdp Inc.

Won 5 of 9 in 2017 with his biggest score coming in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby. Ran well in the Haskell but was no match in the PA Derby and the Travers. Has gone 2 for 2 since going back on the bute but those races were not against this caliber of competition. Comes from the same sire as How to Laff and I think like that one is just a notch below a few others in the field.

3 Edwin Drood, trained by Sanny Village

Only races 5 times in 2017 where he managed two wins. His last outing in the Cigar was a disappointing 6th but that came at a mile which does not seem to be his ideal distance. Works are still good but have gotten just a tad slower than a few months ago. Looks to be a major contender from this post and I expect he will get a piece of the pie.

4 Steel Will, trained by Defoe

Acquired for $250.000 has only raced twice for his new connections including an impressive 3rd in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Seems to do his best running on or near the lead and from this post should be able to establish a favorable spot. Has yet to win while going long but there are some solid efforts, so I think he can get the distance. Not showing much in the way of works over the last couple of months and I am just not sure he is as good as the top ones in here.

5 Bronx Bomber, trained by Aer Stables

The winner of the Jim Dandy and the Travers warmed up for this with an easy victory in a NWx4 at Tampa last out. With a new stable manager running the show for Aer the decision has been made to drop long time rider Junior Alvarado for Joe Talamo who is off to a solid start this year. Another one that has lost the weight advantage he enjoyed last year so will need to improve on his BC Classic run to turn the tables on his rivals from that day.

6 Ginger Haggis, trained by The Sidley Stud

Winner of 2 grade 1’s in 2017 with near misses in 3 others. Lost all chance in the BC Classic when he dropped to last from an outside post and had too much to do on a speed favoring track. Regular rider Leparoux has the mount and since he has been riding at GP should have a good feel for the course. Not showing any works of substance since his last race but with this draw is my pick to get the job done.

7 Black Mojo, trained by Mb Stables

The first of two entries from the sites leading trainer is the 2017 BC Classic winner. Was purchased for $660.000 at the end of 2016 and made his debut for his new trainer in this race last year where he finished a good 2nd beaten a length. Gets a good draw and sticks with Lopez who rode him for the first time in his big win. Not quite as consistent as some of the others in here but obviously can get the job done on his best day.

8 Sporty Greyjoy, trained by Saratoga Stud

One of the few in the field that has not been racing in the top races on the site. Got his first graded stakes win in his last outing in the Grade 3 Harlan where he earned an impressive 102 SRF rating. Workouts and speed ratings say he fits but I am going to need to see him prove it against this kind of competition before I can recommend.

9 Crop Duster, trained by Mb Stables

The second entry from Mb was acquired for $600.000 in August but has not paid the dividends his stablemate has. His last race was his most impressive for his new connections has he just missed in the 7F Malibu. Any horse that has Ortiz riding and Mb training certainly has a chance but I think this is the weaker half of the entry.

10 Port on the Horizon, trained by D J C Racing Stables,

This old warhorse may be the sentimental favorite today as he goes to the post for the 34th time. Unfortunately, he was unable to find the winners circle in eleven 2017 starts while finishing second three times. Usually puts in a solid effort but his works suggest he is slowing down and would be a major surprise especially from this post.

11 Atletico, trained by Our Athletes

A dead heat win in the LA Derby earned this guy a trip to the Derby but a wide draw in that race and his subsequent 2 led to dismal performances. Fared better in a couple of Grade 3’s although he still could not hit the board and then pulled off a win in the Grade 1 Clark. Jockey Geroux is back on board but he is off to a dismal start in 2018 at 0 for 41. His works say he could be good enough but with his track record from outside draws I will be looking elsewhere for the winner.

12 A One, trained by Eastern Equine

Purchased for a hefty $1,400.000 back in 2015 this guy has proven to be worth every penny. Lightly raced in 2017 with only 6 starts in which he finished in the money 5 times. Ran a very good 2nd in the BC Classic from this very post so there is hope that he can overcome it here. His last 4 races have earned SRF ratings of 101 or higher so he is coming into this on the top of his game. Johnny V in the saddle only adds to his appeal. Would be my top pick from a better post but I still think he is right there at the wire.

13 Withdrawn, trained by John Henry

Very similar resume to that of Atletico as he shared the win with that one in the LA Derby and then finished out of the money in the Derby and Preakness. Managed a win in the Grade Fayette but was then beat by Atletico in the Clark. Has not had a speed rating of 100 since April and being this wide I have a tough time envisioning this one being a factor.

14 Clash Study, trained by Smokey Stover

Scratched

15 Benzar, trained by TwinTowersRacing

Draws in with the scratch of Clash Study but I am not sure that was a good thing as he seems over matched. The only entrant in the field without a graded stakes win and in fact does not have a stakes win of any kind. Was beaten soundly in his last outing by Hidden Slew Laff and has never won going long. Would be a major surprise from a good post and from out here would be an upset of astronomical proportions.

 

Summary

Trying to pick a winner in a field of this caliber is like throwing darts. We all know that outside posts are punished at HRP but the are also punished at GP in real life at this distance so will be very difficult from anyone outside of the 9 hole to get home first. I think it sets up nicely for the group bunched in the middle and will go with Ginger Haggis to win. I do think A One is in good enough form to get involved from the 12 post and will look to Drood and Mojo to fill out the superfecta.

 

6-12-3-7



Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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