Osborne still smiling after Toast Of New York is drawn nine of 12 at Gulfstream
Jamie Osborne said he was "very happy" with Toast Of New York's draw in gate nine under Frankie Dettori in a maximum 12-runner field for Saturday's Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
With a very short run to the first turn, wide posts have a shocking record at the Pegasus trip of 1m1f at the Florida venue, which is hosting the second running of the world's richest race, now worth $16 million and set to be shown live on ATR at 10.40pm.
Although Osborne had been hoping for a middle gate, he said he was content with nine, despite gates nine and above scoring at only a five per cent strike-rate – one winner from 20 – at Gulfstream since the current meeting started last month.
"Nine is not going to disadvantage us so we're very happy," said Lambourn-based Osborne, who saddled Toast of New York to win at Lingfield last month on his comeback after 1,130 days off the track which included a season at stud in Qatar.
He added: "When a lot of those middle gates were gone I started to worry and when our announcers said 'number 12' and he started by saying 'New York', I was thinking, oh no. But thankfully he said 'New York-bred' [Giant Expectations] so it was a huge relief we weren't out there."
Osborne is expecting a pace battle inside Toast Of New York. "I would imagine there are gonna be three or four horses who are gonna go pretty hard and they're gonna run the first quarter in 22sec, so that should put him hanging on to their coat tails," he said.
"That's the idea – and with Gun Runner outside of him, that maybe throws a new dynamic into it," he added. "If Toast's comfortable and Gun Runner's gonna come forward, he's gonna have to go hard to come around us."
Gun Runner remains 4-5 favourite on the indicative morning line at Gulfstream, where Toast Of New York is rated a 20-1 chance. "I clearly think he's got a better chance of winning this race than the market does," said Osborne. "I wouldn't have him as a 20-1 shot."
European contenders are thin on the ground at the 47th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony on Thursday night at Gulfstream, although Juddmonte and Godolphin are in the running for top owner while Breeders' Cup winners Talismanic and Wuheida feature among finalists for the male and female turf categories.
1 Singing Bullet
2 West Coast
3 Stellar Wind
4 Sharp Azteca
7 Fear The Cowboy
8 War Story
9 Toast Of New York
10 Gun Runner
11 Seeking The Soul
12 Giant Expectations
Also eligible: Giuseppe The Great, Game Over
Why the draw can be crucial at Gulfstream
With post position such a crucial factor at Gulfstream Park, the draw could be of paramount importance in the Pegasus World Cup – and the bad news for Toast Of New York is that (as of Tuesday night) gate nine has produced no winners from eight starters in races beyond a mile on dirt at the current meeting at the Florida track.
A wide draw is seldom a plus at any US venue, but the negative effect seems to be magnified at the 1m1f distance on the dirt at Gulfstream. "The first turn comes up in the blink of an eye, and horses from outside post positions are susceptible to losing ground so critical that it can’t be overcome," says Daily Racing Form analyst Mike Watchmaker. "Wednesday’s draw for the Pegasus is more important than any other draw for a race I can think of."
In races on dirt beyond a mile at Gulfstream's current meet, only one horse had won outside gate eight, which also raises questions for hot favourite Gun Runner in gate ten.
According to Daily Racing Form stats, boxes nine to 14 are 1-for-20, compared to 10-for-68 from the inside four gates. That's a 5% strike-rate compared to 14.7%; gates five to eight are 6-for-53.
Watchmaker last year produced statistics suggesting that only one horse had managed to win from gate 12 over nine furlongs there since the venue was rebuilt in early 2006. That horse was none other than subsequent Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, who claimed the 2008 Florida Derby making all from the outside box.
California Chrome, drawn 12 of 12 in last year's race, offers a case study: he was five wide at the first bend, and never recovered. Admittedly he was below par anyway, but the gate was hardly a plus. Easy winner Arrogate set a track record from gate one.
Flowers For Lisa, a 16-1 scorer in the Claiming Crown on December 2, is the only horse since Big Brown to win from gate 12; she shot to the front and was allowed to set moderate fractions. Such a scenario seems unlikely in the world's richest race.
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