Several contenders for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) coming up Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park continued their preparations for the 1 1/8-mile test by putting in workouts at their respective bases Jan. 13.
Grade 1 winner Sharp Azteca breezed five furlongs in a sharp 1:00 3/5 over a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park West Saturday. The Jorge Navarro-trained son of Freud galloped out to six furlongs under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to finish off a workout that was the fourth fastest of 23 moves at the distance.
"He was sharp—visually, very impressive. He was clipping off 12's," said Pegasus World Cup stakeholder Ron Paolucci of Loooch Racing, who struck a deal with Sharp Azteca's owner Ivan Rodriguez last week to run the multiple graded-stakes winner in the world's richest race.
Sharp Azteca is coming off a 5 1/4-length triumph in the Dec. 2 Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) at Aqueduct Racetrack. The 5-year-old launched his 2017 campaign with a victory in the Hardacre Mile Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) and went on to also score victories in the Monmouth Cup Stakes (G3) and Kelso Handicap (G2). He finished second, a half-length back of victorious Battle of Midway , in the Nov. 3 Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar.
Loooch Racing's War Story was also on the work tab at Gulfstream Park West, covering five furlongs in a bullet :59 3/5.
"(Trainer) Jorge (Navarro) said last week this was going to be his money work for the Pegasus, and he's one of those he can work however you want him to work," Paolucci said. "I think we got out of it what we needed."
War Story, who finished fifth in the inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup last year, is scheduled make his first start since finishing fourth in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar.
Multiple graded stakes winner Gunnevera breezed at Gulfstream Park West as well, covering five furlongs in 1:03 3/5 under jockey Luis Saez. The Antonio Sano-trained 4-year-old—who will run in the Pegasus World Cup for stakeholders William Gallo, Bella Inizio Farm, and owner Salomon Del-Vallee—worked in company with stablemate Cheech Thunder.
"It was very good. The track was very sloppy this morning, so I told Luis to take it easy," Sano said. "He went in 1:03 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16."
Gunnevera finished in a dead-heat for fifth with inaugural Pegasus World Cup winner Arrogate in the Breeders' Cup Classic in his most recent start.
At Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Saturday, grade 1 winner Seeking The Soul continued preparations for the Pegasus with a five-furlong drill in 1:00 2/5, the second-fastest of 60 moves at the distance.
Owned by Charles Fipke, the son of Perfect Soul was sent out by trainer Dallas Stewart and galloped out to six furlongs in 1:14 flat.
"We're really happy with him," Stewart said of the work. "He went well, he came back great, and looked sharp. We're getting ready to march on and get ready. When you're two weeks out you want to get a good work in him and the next one, we'll just go slower."
Stewart said Seeking The Soul will record one final move next weekend before shipping out to South Florida Jan. 24.
In other Pegasus World Cup news, likely Horse of the Year Gun Runner is slated to record his final Fair Grounds breeze Jan. 14 prior to Sunday's first race, which has a scheduled post time of 1 p.m. Central time. The Breeders' Cup Classic winner will have his last workout before the Pegasus World Cup over the Gulfstream Park main track Jan. 21.
Stronach Stables' Singing Bullet—who most recently finished fourth Dec. 29 against allowance company—breezed five furlongs in :59.83, the fastest of 53 workouts recorded at the distance.
"He worked super," trainer Dale Romans said. "We're on the bench. We're training like we might be called in to play."
Giuseppe the Great, who has two wins from 10 starts, shipped from Palm Meadows Training Center for a four-furlong breeze in :47.85 over the Gulfstream surface.
"I'm very happy," trainer Nick Zito said. "Very comfortable, very relaxing. That's all I wanted. I'll work him back next week."