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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Focus on the contenders for the $16 million Gulfstream headline-grabber

Gun Runner: will run in the Pegasus World Cup before retiring to stud
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International editor Nicholas Godfrey runs the rule over the confirmed contenders set to face Toast Of New York in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 27.

Gun Runner
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Best price 5-6

Set to be named US Horse of the Year after brilliant 2017 campaign culminating in decisive victory in nation's most prestigious race, the Breeders' Cup Classic; retires to stud after Pegasus.

Bob Baffert

Front-running star who won four last term – including when beating Arrogate in $1m Pacific Classic – before chasing home Gun Runner at Breeders' Cup. But flopped at odds-on last month at Santa Anita, when Mike Smith blamed himself for a bad ride.

West Coast
Bob Baffert

Breeders' Cup Classic third was arguably top dirt three-year-old in States last year; missed Triple Crown but really progressive as victories in Travers Stakes and Pennsylvania Derby catapulted him to head of generation.

Sharp Azteca
Jorge Navarro

Sharp five-year-old, always a factor in big races at up to a mile (third in Dubai, twice second at Breeders' Cup) before running away with Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct last month; steps up in trip but Gulfstream plays well for speed and could put others off their game up front.

Seeking The Soul
Dallas Stewart

Connections did a switcheroo by putting him in here in the place of Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled, who goes to Dubai instead; said to be working well at Fair Grounds and won Grade 1 Clark Handicap on most recent start.

Antonio Sano

Popular colt representing humble Venezuelan connections and who ran a series of solid enough races on last year's Triple Crown trail before coming fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic; loves Pegasus venue Gulfstream Park (won Grade 2 event from well back) and should get strong pace to run at.

Stellar Wind
Chad Brown

Set to represent Coolmore, who paid $6m for the six-time Grade 1 winner at Keeneland November Sales after downbeat effort in Breeders' Cup Distaff; with Pegasus specifically in mind, retirement plans were postponed for a couple of months and she was sent to champion trainer Chad Brown.

Giant Expectations
Peter Eurton

Four-year-old who came into the reckoning after surprise victory in last month's San Antonio Stakes, a Grade 2 at Santa Anita, where Collected was among beaten horses; yet to score in Grade 1 company.

War Story
Jorge Navarro

Dead-late closer is a Grade 1 veteran who finished fifth last year for owner Ron Paolucci, a big supporter of the Pegasus concept who could end up with interests in three runners; also fourth in Breeders' Cup Classic and will be running late.

Other possible runners: Game Over (Jorge Navarro), Leavem In Malibu (Mark Casse), Fear The Cowboy (Efren Loza), Giuseppe The Great (Nick Zito)

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Brilliant Breeders' Cup winner who will retire to stud after contesting the $16 million contest
E.W. Terms
Sky bet