Several contenders for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) coming up Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park worked Jan. 21 throughout South Florida, led by champion California Chrome in the final breeze of his career.
Zayat Stables’ Prayer for Relief had his final breeze, covering five furlongs in 1:00.81 at Gulfstream. Trainer Dale Romans said he was happy with that he saw as the 9-year-old worked from the half-mile pole to a furlong past the finish line under exercise rider Faustino Ramos.
"He worked super," Romans said, noting that that Prayer for Relief appears to be on an upswing as he prepares for his first start in South Florida in two years. “He’s just been so happy, so fresh about the way he’s training and doing things the right way. We’re just hoping that he runs the way he trains.”
Prayer for Relief will be part of a full field of 12 in the world's richest race. Romans said he has been thinking about this spot for his veteran for a while.
“It started creeping into my mind about three works ago,” Romans said. “It just got to be more and more of a possibility the way he was working. He just kept putting in one good work after another. It got to where he’s just done so well that he deserved a chance.”
Romans and owner Ahmed Zayat completed a deal to run in the starting position owned by stakeholder Jeffrey Weiss of Rosedown Racing Stables.
Prayer for Relief has won eight times in his 45-race career and earned over $2 million, but he is on a 20-race losing streak and last ran ninth in the Clark Handicap (G1) in November. Romans is undeterred and said Prayer for Relief looks like he did two years while finishing third, a half-length behind Lea , in the Hal’s Hope (G3) at Gulfstream.
“If you go back to this old form, he’s been a top-class horse,” Romans said. “When he ran here for us in the Hal’s Hope, he ran a super race. He likes this racetrack."
Working at Palm Meadows for the Pegasus was John Oxley’s Noble Bird, who breezed a half-mile in :49.75.
“He was just out to stretch his legs a little," said trainer Mark Casse. "Julien (Leparoux) was aboard. It was perfect. His big work was last week. We always try to slow him down the week before. He tends to want to do a little too much. Julien had him perfect.”
Two Pegasus starters trained by Todd Pletcher worked at Palm Beach Downs: Keen Ice, working with multiple graded-stakes winner Madefromlucky, worked four furlongs in :48 3/5 and galloped out in 1:01 3/5, and Neolithic, working with maiden winner Snag, worked four furlongs in :50 1/5 and galloped out in 1:03 1/5.
Meanwhile, War Story went six furlongs in 1:11.65 at Gulfstream Park West.