WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International, SF Racing and Head of Plains Partners' Yoshida, a Grade 1 winner on dirt and turf, will be returning to the grass for his 2019 debut in the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 3/16-mile Pegasus World Cup Turf, the richest grass race in North America, joins the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on a blockbuster program of nine stakes, six graded, worth $17.125 million in purses.
WinStar also owns a share of 2018 Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible, who is set make his 2019 debut in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup for 15-time defending Championship Meet training titlist Todd Pletcher.
“We debated about whether to run him on the dirt or the turf,” WinStar president and CEO Elliott Walden said Friday. “The nice thing about Yoshida is he's a Grade 1 winner on both surfaces. We felt like with Audible being in the other race, this was a good place to start.”
Bred in Japan by Northern Farm, Yoshida brought $765,160 at the Japan Racing Association's 2015 sale of yearlings and weanlings and has gone on to earn $1,589,770 in 12 career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, five of them wins.
Yoshida's first career stakes victory came in the 2017 James W. Murphy at legendary Pimlico Race Course. He won the 2017 Hill Prince (G3) and 2018 Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) before capturing the historic Woodward (G1) last September at Saratoga in his dirt debut.
Most recently, Yoshida ran fourth by less than two lengths in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 3. Winner Accelerate and runner-up Gunnevera are both being pointed to the Pegasus World Cup.
“He's done great. He had a little bit of a break for the month of November and then started back training. He's had three breezes at Payson Park and Bill is really happy with him. He's continued to fill out and do well and we're excited about the upcoming year with him,” Walden said. “He's unbelievable. He's been a good horse from Day 1.”
In his latest work, Yoshida breezed a half-mile in 49.60 seconds Dec. 30 at Payson, ranking fourth of 13 horses.
Other horses pointing for the Pegasus World Cup Turf are Sunday Racing Co.'s Aerolithe, a Group 1 winner in Japan; Accelerate's John Sadler-trained stablemate Catapult, winner of the Eddie Read (G2) and Del Mar Mile (G2) and second in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) last year for Woodford Racing; and Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and M.J. Jooste's Magic Wand, an English Group 2 winner last summer that was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) Nov. 3 in her North American debut.
“It's very exciting. I give kudos to the Stronachs for what they're trying to accomplish in horse racing and how they've been an advocate for trying different things,” Walden said. “We just want to participate. It's a great opportunity, it's a big purse, it's a great idea that started with the Pegasus on dirt a few years ago and that's gained momentum. I give Frank and Belinda [Stronach] a lot of credit for trying to do different things to help move the industry forward.”
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