WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners' Yoshida, 5-2 program favorite for Saturday's $7-million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), may find himself back on dirt after competing in North America's richest grass race.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott hinted a second international trip may be in store for 5-year-old Yoshida, a Japanese-bred son of the Sunday Silence stallion Heart's Cry who finished fifth by 1 ¼ lengths in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) last summer at Royal Ascot.
“I guess if he comes out of the Pegasus well, we'll probably try to go to the Dubai World Cup with him,” Mott said. Boosted to $12 million for 2019, it will be held March 30 at Meydan Racecourse.
Yoshida is a rare Grade 1 winner on both surfaces, having captured the Turf Classic on the 2018 Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard in his 4-year-old debut. He made his first 10 career starts on the grass before a two-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward (G1) Sept. 1 at Saratoga.
“Going into it, he had never actually had a race on the dirt. He had worked on the dirt all the time and he had worked well enough, but you never really know until you put them out there in the afternoon,” Mott said. “To see him split the field at the head of the lane and run on the way he did was very pleasing. I had no idea what the outcome was going to be. You can pretend to have that crystal ball and know what the outcome is going to be but until you actually see it I think you don't really know.”
Mott kept Yoshida on the dirt for the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), where he was a rallying fourth under jockey Jose Ortiz – 1 ¾ lengths behind Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate, the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's $9-million Pegasus World Cup (G1) – and a nose out of third. Gunnevera, who returns in the Pegasus, was second. Ortiz returns to ride in the Pegasus Turf.
“He ran so well in the Breeders' Cup Classic. I think he got beat less than two lengths, had a little bit of a wide trip turning for home. He opted to swing wide in that particular spot and he was beaten by two very good horses,” Mott said. “With a great trip, maybe he would have been second. Who knows? He's shown us time after time between the Woodward and also the Breeders' Cup Classic that those are the races that he should be in at the moment.”
With the same ownership group having 2018 Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible in the Pegasus World Cup, the decision was made to put Yoshida back on grass for the Pegasus Turf. He has been first or second in seven of 10 career turf races, earning $889,770 of his $1.6 million bankroll.
“I think it would be great [to win the Pegasus Turf],” Mott said. “When he goes to stud I think he's going to be a fashionable stud for people that are looking for a good turf horse or a good dirt horse. I think he could have international appeal with people from Europe or Japan or wherever it might be looking to run on the turf, as well.”
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