Flavien Prat, a rising West Coast star who is off to a torrid start in 2019 by winning 27 percent of his starts at Santa Anita Park, will come to Gulfstream Park on Saturday to ride Audible in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Prat, 26, the son of a Standardbred trainer, has won riding titles at Santa Anita and Del Mar since moving from his native France to Southern California at the end of 2014.
Audible will be making his third start off a layoff. He recorded the biggest victory of his career with an authoritative win in the Florida Derby last March before he missed second by a head in the Kentucky Derby.
Prat looks ahead to the Pegasus, North America’s richest race, in a diary written with Tom Pedulla for America’s Best Racing:
I have been excited since Mr. Pletcher called to say there was a possibility that I could ride Audible in the Pegasus.
Everything depended on whether Javier Castellano decided on Audible or City of Light. He won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with City of Light, so it was not surprising that he took that direction. So here I am.
Racing, as it is with so many things, is about opportunity. I have a great one here. Mr. Pletcher knows how to get horses ready for big races. Audible has been working steadily and this is his third race off a layoff. I am confident he will be ready to give his best performance.
He will need to be at his best because Accelerate, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his last start, and City of Light are two outstanding horses. While I respect everybody in the field, I see them as the main competition.
A lot of fans may overlook Audible because he was upset in his last race, the Harlan’s Holiday, a race he was certainly expected to win. He probably needed the start and it was a funny kind of race. The track was soupy that day. With that condition, sometimes anything can happen. I think Audible probably got enough out of it to be at his best on Saturday.
One thing I have going for me is that I definitely know he likes Gulfstream Park. He won the Holy Bull and the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby there last year and was in control of both races. He can go longer than the mile-and-an-eighth distance of the Pegasus, but I think the distance will be fine for him.
I am pretty sure I will get the solid pace I want. Patternrecognition, who won the Grade 1 Cigar Mile for Chad Brown, has a lot of early speed. So, of course, does City of Light, to mention just a couple of horses.
I am studying replays of Audible’s races and will know everything I can about him by the time we go into the starting gate. It does not bother me at all that we drew outside in post 10 in a field of 12. You have to start somewhere.
It will be important to be patient with him and allow him to settle into a nice stalking position because I know he is a strong finisher. I will want to keep as much in reserve as I can.
I will have a game plan, but I have also learned to keep an open mind. When the gates open, you can find yourself in an entirely different situation from what you expected. I will see what is going on at the break and make my decisions from there.
I feel that I am riding better all the time. When people ask me why, that is a hard question to answer. I think I have improved in the way I study for a race. I am able to anticipate a lot of what can happen. When it does, my experience kicks in and I know how to react.
I appreciate it that Mr. Pletcher and the owners trust me with so much on the line. This is what we work for. One big win tends to lead to another in this sport.
A Pegasus victory with Audible would definitely be something for me to build on. I cannot wait for the big day.