$3 Million Pegasus World Championship Cup and 2024 Eclipse Awards Cap an Exciting South Florida Weekend

Get a full recap of the Pegasus World Championship Races and Eclipse Awards with Dr. Gregory Beroza, aka HorseDoc® ‘Talking Horses’®

National Treasure wins the $3Million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Racetrack on 1/27/24. Photo by ACoglianese.

In the first major Grade 1 national extravaganza of 2024, Flavien Prat jockeyed National Treasure, a four-year-old colt trained by Bob Baffert and sired by Quality Road, to a nail-biting win in the $3 Million Pegasus World Championship. The race was at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at beautiful Gulfstream Park Racetrack in Hallandale Beach, Floria on Saturday, January 27, 2024. National Treasure, a front running speedster, was the 9-5 odds favorite having previously accomplished a wire-to-wire win in the 2023 Preakness Stakes at 1 3/16 miles on 6/20/23. He also came a close second to 2023 Eclipse Award Horse of the Year, Cody’s Wish, in the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Mileon November 4th. This was a classic battle of older proven racehorses that are 4 years or older, with an exemplary race record. It was Bob Baffert’s 3rd Pegasus win out of 8 runnings.

First Mission, a four-year-old Street Sense colt trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Luis Saez, was a solid second betting favorite at 7-2 odds. He finished an impressive second at Churchill Downs in the Clark Stakes on 11/24/23. He had never finished less than 2nd in 5 previous starts.

Hoist the Gold, a royally bred Mineshaft colt trained by Dallas Stewart and ridden by HOF Jockey Johnny Velazquez, was an equally feared front running speedster that recently won the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on 12/22/23. The performance question was whether or not he could stretch out to beat the competition going two turns on a 1 1/8 mile track. This was a similar challenge for National Treasure.

Señor Buscador, a six-year-old Mineshaft colt trained by Todd Fincher and ridden by Junior Alvarado drew 20-1 odds. He came into the race having run a strong second to Hoist the Gold in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on 12/2/23. Fincher is based primarily in New Mexico. Señor Buscador has a late-running style but is unproven at the 1 1/8 mile distance. Junior Alvarado is a master of the late running style having piloted Cody’s Wish to multiple wins enabling him to be crowned the Eclipse Horse of the Year and Older Dirt Male with most of his wins at one Mile.

There were many other exceptional quality horses, trainers, and jockeys with the following being the list of finishing stats:

Place Odds Horse Trainer Jockey
1 9-5 National Treasure Bob Baffert Flavian Prat
2 20-1 Señor Buscador Todd Fincher Junior Alvarado
3 20-1 Crupi Todd Pletcher Frankie Dettori
4 12-1 Hoist the Gold Dallas Stewart Johnny Velazquez
5 8-1 O’Connor Saffie Joseph, Jr. Paco Lopez
6 20-1 Il Miracolo Anonio Sano Javier Castellano
7 15-1 Dynamic One Todd Pletcher Irad Ortiz, Jr.
8 20-1 Nimitz Class Bruce Kravets Edgard Zayas
9 7-1 First Mission Brad Cox Luis Saez
10 15-1 Trademark Victoria Oliver Fernando De La Cruz
11 8-1 Grand Aspen Todd Pletcher Jose Ortiz
12 8-1 Skippylongstocking Saffie Joseph, Jr. Tyler Gaffalione

National Treasure (r) and Señor Buscador (l) battle for the lead at the final stretch approaching the finish line. Photo by RThompson

While National Treasure and Hoist the Gold battled for the lead throughout most of the race, National Treasure prevailed and Hoist the Gold was able to hold on to a fading fourth place finish. Señor Buscador, initially trailing the pack, picked up steam on the back side and finished strong down the home stretch. He was advancing upon the winner National Treasure but had to settle for a close second by a neck at the finish wire.

Señor Buscador’s performance was so impressive that the principals invited him into the $20 Million Saudi Cup to be run next month on February 25, 2024 at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack. It is a 1 1/8 mile race on the dirt for older horses to which the following outstanding horses are possible entries: White Abarrio, Arabian Knight, Ushba Tesoro, Derma Sotogake, Hoist the Gold, National Treasure, and Saudi Crown, among others. At the post-race press conference, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said that there are no current commitments for National Treasure’s next races until trainer Bob Baffert and the owning partners make a coordinated decision.

Warm Heart winning $1 Million 1-1/8 mile World Cup Turf. Trainer Aidan O’Brien & Jockey Ryan Moore. Photo by RThompson

Additional Results for the triad of Pegasus races that day include: Warm Heart (f.4) by Gailleo winning the $1 Million G1 1 1/8 mile World Cup Turf, trained by Aidan O’Brien and jockeyed by Ryan Moore. I’m Very Busy (c.4) by Cloud Computing (Chad Brown-Irad Ortiz Jr) was second and Catnip (g.5) by Kitten’s Joy (Michael Stidham-Frankie Dettori) was third.

Didia winning $500,000 1-1/16 mile Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf with Jockey Jose Ortiz. Photo by RThompson

The $500,000 1 1/16 mile Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf was won by Didia (6.m), trained by Ignacio Correas, IV and jockeyed by Jose Ortiz. Surprisingly (5.m), (Todd Pletcher-Oisin Murphy) was second; and Ruby Neil (4.f) (Richard Mandella-Frankie Dettori) was third.

2023 Eclipse Awards at The Breakers Resort Palm Beach, Florida

Photo by GBeroza

January 25, 2024: Major industry achievement awards were given at a black Tie Gala at the Breakers Palm Beach Resort on Thursday evening just preceding Saturday’s running of the three major Pegasus World Championship races. Many awards were given with major highlights herein included:

Cody’s Wish winning Horse of the Year honors in addition to top Older Dirt Male honors. The now-retired colt was winner of the 2023 $1 Million G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He won four of five starts in 2023, including three Grade 1 Stakes. Cody’s Wish was named after Cody Dorman, who suffered from a life debilitating Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome. The day after Cody’s Wish won his final victory, Cody Dorman passed away. His trainer was HOF Billy Mott and his jockey was Junior Alvarado who rode Cody masterfully throughout his career.

Cody’s Wish is royally bred with his sire being Curlin and out of a Tapit mare. He retired with $3M in purses and will stand at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Kentucky.

Special Recognition is herein given to finalist White Abarrio who in 2023 beat Cody’s Wish in the $1M 1 1/8 mile G1 Whitney at Saratoga, and who won the $6M 1 1/4 mile G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Eclipse Winning Trainer Billy Mott exchanges congratulations with Kelly Dorman, father of Cody Dorman, upon accepting Horse of the Year Honors for Cody’s Wish. Photo by GBeroza

Billy Mott, Cody’s trainer, won his 4th Eclipse Champion Trainer Award. In 2023 he also trained Eclipse winners: Elite Power as Male Sprinter, and Just FYI as Two -Year-Old Filly. In 1995 & 1996 Mott campaigned the great Cigar to win Horse of the Year and Outstanding Trainer honors.

Irad Ortiz, Jr.. Photo by ACoglianese

Irad Ortiz, Jr. won Outstanding Jockey Honors having amassed $39,000,000 in purses in 2023, having won the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic G1 aboard White Abarrio, having ridden Eclipse Male Sprinter Elite Power, and Female Sprinter Goodnight Olive.

Repole & St. Elias Connections winning Male Turf Horse for Up to the Mark; and Repole Stables winning Two-Year-Old Male for Fierceness. Photo by GBeroza

Arcangelo. Photo by SRaisher

Arcangelo won the 2023 Belmont Stakes G1 and Travers Stakes G1. Trainer Jena Antonucci was the first female to win a Classic Race and to train an Eclipse 3-Year-Old Champion.

Three racing super stars enjoying the fraternity of an Eclipse Awards evening moment: Jockey Johnny Velazquez, Owner Mike Repole, and Trainer Todd Pletcher. Photo by GBeroza

If you want to learn more about the 2024 Pegasus Cup and Eclipse Awards, you can find podcasts, additional coverage, live race footage, and photos on HorseDoc® ‘Talking Horses’® YouTube Channel.

Dr. Gregory A. Beroza, DVM, DACVS, DABVP has been a practicing veterinarian and consultant for 42 years; and HorseDoc® ‘Talking Horses’® media host, author, and consultant since 2007. Dr. Beroza is a multimedia host and broadcasts his productions, including a new Podcast, via his WuzUpDoc Media website: www.WuzUpDoc.com. He can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media sources.

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