Seeking the Soul, winner of the Clark Handicap presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) in his last start, had his final tune-up before the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park, working a half-mile in :48 3/5 Jan. 21 under exercise rider Emerson Chavez at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The time matched the 14th-fastest for 163 works at the distance Sunday.
"It was the last work before the big race, so he did a nice sharp work," trainer Dallas Stewart said. "Came back in good shape. Looks good, and we're very happy."
Stewart said Charles Fipke's 5-year-old horse is doing "about the same" as heading into the Clark, which is a good thing.
"He was real sharp for the Clark, eating well and looking good," he said. "I think we're on the same path right now."
Though he ran third in both the 2017 Lukas Classic Stakes (G3) and the 2016 Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) in the past, the breakthrough in the Clark came on the heels of a nine-length allowance victory at Keeneland. It was the first time the horse won consecutive starts.
Stewart acknowledges that Seeking the Soul will have to step forward "a lot" to beat Gun Runner , the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner who is the prohibitive favorite to be voted Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards Jan. 25.
"Gun Runner is a great horse," Stewart said. "But now is the time to take a shot.
"It looks like there will be a lot of speed," he added. "We'll be very tactical and hopefully can come get them the last eighth of a mile. He's a real tough horse. He's gotten better with age. We always felt like he was talented. He's gotten better, stronger, and (he's) putting it together, knowing how to win. That's what matters: He knows how to win now."
Seeking the Soul will have a walk day Jan. 22 before resuming training Jan. 23. He is scheduled to fly on a Tex Sutton equine charter from New Orleans to Fort Lauderdale Jan. 24.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Seeking the Soul's rider in the Clark, has the mount in the world's richest horse race.