Excitement is growing for the second edition of the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest race. The 1 1/8-mile contest, headlined by expected Horse of the Year Gun Runner, will be run on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Tom Pedulla spoke to trainer Dallas Stewart about his Pegasus contender, the newly-turned 5-year-old Seeking the Soul. Seeking the Soul enters the Pegasus off his first Grade 1 victory for owner-breeder Charles Fipke in the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare last Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs.
STEWART: We just decided to run one horse, Seeking the Soul, and we’ll take a different route with her. It’s just a deal where we felt we had a good horse in Seeking the Soul, and John Velazquez said that was the one he wanted to ride, so that’s what we went with.
PEDULLA: Any idea when we might see Forever Unbridled run?
STEWART: No, sir. Not yet. She’s doing well, though. She looks great.
PEDULLA: Is Seeking the Soul training as well as you could want?
STEWART: I believe he is. He trains hard every day. In all respects, I think he’s going to be fine.
PEDULLA: Is he a horse that is getting better with age?
STEWART: He appears to be. He’s by Perfect Soul and he’s in the family of Personal Ensign also. That’s a wonderful pedigree that will serve him well with age.
PEDULLA: Does his style suit the Pegasus? It looks as though there will be a lot of speed.
STEWART: He can lay right off of them. He wants to get up quickly into the race, but he really runs better when he gets in the middle and kind of fights his way through. He kind of likes to fight. If he’s got a target, he really likes that. I think he’s going to have a target here.
PEDULLA: You have John Velazquez riding for you. How important is that?
STEWART: He’s magical on these types of horses. It’s not a secret. He put a great ride on Forever Unbridled (for Fipke and Stewart to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff). He’s just magical. He can get it there.
PEDULLA: Do you think Seeking the Soul is sitting on a big year?
STEWART: Yes, sir. If he was to do well here, we’ll probably take him to Dubai for the World Cup.
PEDULLA: What is it like to train for Mr. Fipke?
STEWART: It’s been great. I’ve worked for him for a long time. He stays in touch with everything. He sets up all the breeding. We talk about the distances and the breeding and the surfaces – but the training, he doesn’t really get into it. He kind of lets you do your thing. He’s fun to work for, I’ll tell you that.
PEDULLA: Is the Pegasus important for racing?
STEWART: I think it is. I really do. We hope they’ll continue to have it and get the best horses around for the race.
PEDULLA: Lastly, do you see Gun Runner being beatable?
STEWART: He’s a damn good horse, one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. I’ve been chasing him since he was 2 at the Fair Grounds. Steve Asmussen has done a wonderful job with him. He’s a horse with a lot of talent. But it’s a horse race. There is always a chance, put it that way. There is always a chance.