Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible has returned to Todd Pletcher's training base at Palm Beach Downs to continue preparations for a planned start in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26.
The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief is scheduled to make his next start in the Dec. 15 Harlan's Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream in preparation for North America's richest race on the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series program that will also feature the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), North America's richest turf race.
Owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm, Audible made his first start since finishing a troubled-trip third in the May 5 Kentucky Derby (G1) on the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup undercard at Churchill Downs, registering a thoroughly professional two-length victory in the seven-furlong Cherokee Run Stakes.
“We were thrilled with that performance. He hadn't run since the Derby and we were looking for the right kind of race to bring him back in. We have our goal set for the Pegasus and we were trying to figure out the best path to get there. We felt like the Cherokee Run was a good starting point and the spacing from that to the Harlan's Holiday was good. Of course, the spacing between the Harlan's Holiday and the Pegasus is good,” Pletcher said. “It was kind of Step 1 of a three-race plan, and the first step went very smoothly.
“I'm proud of his performance and he came out of it well. He's settled in well here at Palm Beach Downs,” he added. “We're looking forward to getting him ready for the Harlan's Holiday and hopefully the Pegasus from there.”
Audible, who is scheduled to have his first breeze at Palm Beach Downs Nov. 24, demonstrated a distinct fondness for the Gulfstream racing surface during the 2017-2018 Championship Meet, winning the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull (G2) by 5 ½ lengths and the Florida Derby by two lengths at the Pegasus World Cup distance of 1 1/8 miles. Audible had previously finished third in his career debut at Belmont, before winning back-to-back races at Aqueduct to set himself up nicely for his eye-catching performances in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby.
“He seems versatile. He's run well at Aqueduct; he's run well at Belmont; he's run well at Churchill; and obviously, he's run two huge races at Gulfstream – and that aspect makes the Pegasus very exciting,” Pletcher said. “We're hoping he continues to improve. He's an exciting 4-year-old prospect.”
Pletcher, who is the 15-time defending Championship Meet titlist, had several opportunities to revisit Audible's third-place finish behind Justify in the Kentucky Derby during Breeders' Cup Week. Although the New York-bred colt checked in 2 ½ lengths behind the future Triple Crown champion and a head behind runner-up Good Magic, he bolstered his trainer's confidence in him.
“He was closing really strongly at the end. Every time I saw the replay of the Derby while I was at Churchill for the Breeders' Cup, I still can't believe he didn't win that photo for second,” said Pletcher, who saddled Bulletin for a victory in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. “It was a big effort from him and I think it solidified how strong the efforts he put forth in the Florida Derby and Holy Bull were. We're excited to have him back at full strength and looking forward to his next couple races.”
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