HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox is represented on the first invitation list for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Grade 1) at Gulfstream Park by a pair of prominent stable stars—Godolphin LLC’s First Mission and FMQ Stables’ Saudi Crown.

The eighth running of the Pegasus World Cup will be the centerpiece of a Jan. 27 celebration of World Class Thoroughbred racing at Gulfstream Park.

The mile-and-an-eighth showcase for 4-year-olds and older, will be featured on a program with seven graded stakes, along with the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) and the $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G2).

Cox saddled Knicks Go for a dominating victory in the 2021 Pegasus World Cup. Knicks Go also won the Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2021 Horse of the Year honors before finishing second behind Life Is Good in the 2022 Pegasus.

Saudi Crown earned Grade 1 credentials by winning the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing before finishing off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Classic won by White Abarrio at Santa Anita in his only finish worse than second. The 4-year-old son of Always Dreaming won his first two races before finishing second to Fort Bragg in the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont and second to Forte in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

First Mission, a son of Street Sense who has not been worse than second in five career starts, captured the April 15 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland before going to the sidelines. The 4-year-old colt returned to capture an upper level, $80,000 optional claiming around two turns at Keeneland five months later – a gutsy off-the-pace score followed by a nose loss to Trademark in the Grade 2 Clark at Churchill Downs in his most recent start.

Cox’s stable stars are joined on the list by invites trained by Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher, both of whom have also celebrated Pegasus World Cup triumphs.

Baffert, a four-time Eclipse Award winner who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, has saddled two Pegasus World Cup winners in Arrogate in 2017 and Mucho Gusto in 2020.

Baffert is represented on the invitation list by National Treasure, winner of the Grade 1 Preakness in May at Pimlico Race Course and second in the Grade 1 Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile won by Cody’s Wish at Santa Anita on Nov. 4. The 4-year-old son of Quality Road campaigns for an ownership group that includes SF Racing LLC, Starlight Stable and Madaket Stables LLC.

Pletcher saddled Life Is Good for a victory in the 2022 Pegasus World Cup, as well as notching back-to-back Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) wins with Colonel Liam in 2021 and 2022.

The 11-time Championship Meet titlist may have as many as three opportunities to win a second Pegasus World Cup with Pro Thoroughbred Enterprises’ Grand Aspen on the first invitation list, as well as Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Dynamic One; and Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Crupi, who have been listed as reserve invitees.

Grand Aspen, a late-to-develop 5-year-old son of Dialed In, earned his way onto the main invitation list of 12 horses after losing a photo finish by a neck while finishing second behind O’Connor (Chi) in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Saturday.

Dynamic One captured the 2022 Suburban (G2) at Belmont before going to the sidelines and returning to action in a recent Gulfstream Park optional claiming allowance. Crupi, a 4-year-old son of Curlin, is coming off back-to-back stakes victories in the Discover and Queens County at Aqueduct.

Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Skippylongstocking and O’Connor have been invited to make second starts in the Pegasus following disappointing efforts last year. Both are in peak form heading into this year’s Pegasus.

Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking, who finished seventh last year, is coming off a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of Exaggerator won the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2) in his previous start.

Michael and Julia Iavarone and Fernando Vine Ode’s O’Connor, who was never a factor while finishing 11th in last season’s Pegasus, is coming off back-to-back victories in the Grade 2 Fayette at Keeneland and the Harlan’s Holiday.

Joseph-trained Ny Traffic, who finished third in the Harlan’s Holiday for John Fanelli and partners, is on the list of reserve invitees.

Also on the first list of invitees are Il  Maracolo for trainer Antonio Sano, Newgrange from the barn of Phil D’Amato, Subsanado (Arg), who is trained by John Salder, and Trademark for trainer Victoria Oliver.

Other reserve invitees include Castle Chaos, Nimitz Class, Red Route One, Steal Sunshine and Wizard of Westwood.

Return to the Jan. 3 issue of Wire to Wire