Champion mare Stellar lined up for shock return in Pegasus World Cup
The second running of the Pegasus World Cup, has received a major boost with the shock news that champion racemare Stellar Wind is back in training with an eye to representing the Coolmore team in the world's richest race at Gulfstream Park on January 27.
The five-year-old's racing career was thought to be over following a disappointing effort in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, after which she was knocked down at a sales-topping $6 million to MV Magnier at the Keeneland November Sale.
However, while the five-year-old is still expected to be bred to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah next year, she has now returned to training, having been transferred to US champion trainer Chad Brown at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.
On Sunday, she was back in action with a morning workout, after which Coolmore US spokesman Scott Calder issued an update.
"She's in training with Chad Brown and is under consideration for the Pegasus; the plan is still for her to be bred in the spring," he said.
Trained throughout her career by leading Californian-based handler John Sadler, Stellar Wind was America's champion three-year-old filly in 2015 and has six Grade 1 victories to her name. Sent off 4-1, she was last of eight in the Breeders' Cup Distaff behind Forever Unbridled, who is also being targeted for the Pegasus.
Despite Stateside rumours suggesting there are still slots available, Pegasus organisers are forecasting a full field of 12 runners for the $16m event, won this year by Arrogate.
Although the deadline for paying up for a $1m slot in the starting gate does not fall until later this month, several big shots have been named as intended runners, headed by Breeders' Cup Classic winner Gun Runner, who will be having his final start before retirement.
Classic runner-up Collected plus War Story and Gunnevera (fourth and fifth) are also in line to run, as is Sharp Azteca after his impressive win in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Saturday.
However, whether their connections have already purchased a starting place in the race or are holding fire to cut a deal is yet to be made public knowledge.
- The Delaware Handicap, a $750,000 event for fillies and mares, has lost its Grade 1 status for 2018. Champion filly Songbird won this year's edition.