Though it will be a tall task for Champ Pegasus to best the likes of European invaders and group I winners Workforce and Behkabad in the Nov. 6 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), the son of Fusaichi Pegasus looks to be on top of his game, winning his last two straight starts—the Aug. 29 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) and the Oct. 3 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Stakes (gr. IT).
“He couldn’t be training any better; he looks great,” said Richard Mandella, who conditions Champ Pegasus for owners/breeders Gerald Ford of the Versailles, Ky.-based Diamond A Racing and Argentine-born Arturo Vargas.
“I’m not sure what the fields are that we’ve beat here in California, but he’s done it like a good horse," added Mandella. "We’re looking at the (Qatar) Prix de l ‘Arc de Triompe winner (Workforce), and several other graded stakes winners, and it’s a tough race. Whether he is good enough to beat this field, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Champ Pegasus, who worked five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 over Hollywood Park’s turf Oct. 31, will ship to Churchill Nov. 2, according to Mandella.
“We’ve had him around a couple years, and he’s always been good to deal with, so we don’t anticipate any problems (with shipping),” said Mandella, adding that while Champ Pegasus was not impressive as a young horse, he has finally matured into fine form in time for the Breeders’ Cup.
Mandella didn’t start the now 4-year-old Champs Pegasus until last December due to a variety of minor ailments, but the bay colt made up for lost time through his consistent performances over the last nine months, quickly proving himself worthy of elite competition.
So far, Champ Pegasus has won or placed in seven of his eight starts, including a runner-up effort in the Sunset Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood July 18, and has earned $358,520.
In addition to Champ Pegasus, Diamond A has been represented by many other graded stakes winners over the years alone or in partnership, including grade I victors Stop the Traffic, Dixie Union, Noches de Rosa, and 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Pleasantly Perfect. As breeders, Diamond A is additionally represented by multiple grade I winner Devil May Care.
Champ Pegasus was produced from the graded stakes-winning Salt Lake mare Salt Champ, who was bred in Argentina and named champion 3-year-old filly in that country in 2004. A three-time group I winner, Salt Champ was sent to the United States following her championship year, where she won the 2005 Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) for Mandella before retiring to become a broodmare.