Pegasus World Cup 2020 next for Grade 1 winner Higher Power

December 16, 2019 12:00pm

A year after their Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate went straight from the November championship event to the Pegasus World Cup (G1), Higher Power is posed to repeat the pattern for the connections of Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler.

Owner Kosta Hronis said the Grade 1-winning son of Medaglia d’Oro could follow the Pegasus on Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park by heading overseas for the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 29 and $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 28.

“It’s hard to resist when you have those good older horses that can do this with those purses,” Hronis said. “It’s hard not to dip your toe in the water.”

Hronis spoke to Horse Racing Nation, however, before The Stronach Group announced new terms for the 1 1/8-mile event: a diminished $3 million purse, but with no entry fees, and a medication-free. He said via text message that Sadler will decide if there's to be a change in plans in the coming weeks.

Since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Higher Power has worked three times at Santa Anita Park, most recently clocking a half mile last Wednesday in 46.60 seconds, second-fastest of 123 timed.

So continues a season that Hronis admits “has been a pleasant surprise.”

Lane’s End Bloodstock, serving as an agent, went to $250,000 in last April’s Keeneland sale to acquire Higher Power, who then had only won in allowance company. But the new connections banked on pedigree and potential when stretching to a quarter million.

“We’ve never been able to afford a Medaglia d’Oro,” Hronis said with a laugh. “It’s nice to have one in the barn who can shine the way he has.”

The 4-year-old went from the sales ring into the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), finishing fifth, before switching to turf to win a June 14 allowance race on the west coast. Higher Power earned his first stakes placing when second in the Wickerr, also on turf, but broke out over the main track by cruising to a 5 1/4-length victory in Del Mar’s Pacific Classic (G1).

“We’ve got to give a lot of credit to his previous trainer, Michael Stidham,” Hronis said. “He’s the one who talked to John about him and thought he’d be a good fit for the barn — a good fit for the west coast. A lot of credit goes to him for his foresight and thinking.”

The colt’s record could have been better in 2019 if not for some untimely gate mishaps. Higher Power stumbled leaving on his way to being third in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1), a final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, and got off a step slow in the Classic.

“We take him to the gate all the time and we stand him there. He’s like — no issues,” Hronis said of morning training. “Just weird things have happened (in races) where he kind of hops. I don’t know if he’s a little excited or what.

“We’ll just continue to work with him and hope and hope he’s gotten over this.”

Accelerate, who had won four straight Grade 1 races before the 2019 Pegasus, closed his career with a third over a sloppy Gulfstream Park track. Higher Power now joins a prospective 2020 Pegasus field led by the 3-year-old Maximum Security, unless he defects to head straight into the big-money overseas races.

2020 Pegasus World Cup (G1)

 

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