Pegasus World Cup Contender: Gunnevera

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By Emily Shields

One Pegasus World Cup (G1) contender with a genuine affinity for Gulfstream Park is Gunnevera. The five-year-old chestnut son of Dialed In has started over the Hallandale Beach oval nine times, winning four and running second and third twice each. His only effort worse than third was when he finished fourth in the Birdonthewire Stakes as a maiden in just his second start. Antonio Sano trains for Salomon Del Valle's Margoth.

Pros: Gunnevera has always been classy; he won the Saratoga Special (G2) sprinting at Saratoga in his fourth start. He won the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot to wrap up his juvenile season and put him well on the way to his current total of $4.1 million in earnings (not bad for a $16,000 yearling purchase). 

He won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park by 5 ¾ lengths, defeating standouts such as Practical Joke and Irish War Cry. He ran third in the Florida Derby (G1) one start later behind eventual Kentucky Derby hero Always Dreaming.

Seventh of 20 in the Kentucky Derby and fifth of 10 in the Preakness, Gunnevera had a little time off before returning at Gulfstream to win the Tangelo Stakes. He was second in the Travers (G1), fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and third in last year’s Pegasus World Cup. He was off four and a half months in 2018, but won an allowance at Gulfstream before finishing second in both the Woodward Stakes (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) behind Accelerate.

Cons: Gunnevera was only a length behind Accelerate in the Breeders’ Cup and was flying at the end, but missing the victory on a major stage seems to be a common theme for him. He lost the Woodward by two lengths as the favorite and was beaten 13 ¼ lengths in last year’s Pegasus behind Gun Runner and West Coast. For all his money earned and his 13 on the board efforts in 19 starts, he still does not have a Grade 1 victory to his name. Having to tango with Accelerate again – and throw in City of Light – makes the Pegasus look an awful lot like last year when he faced eventual 1-2 finishers Gun Runner and West Coast. However, Gunnevera does have the home field advantage over his California-based rivals.

Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. will have the mount on Gunnevera. Post positions will be drawn Tuesday at Gulfstream Park.

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