Tom Pedulla presents five key takeaways from the Pegasus World Cup card on Saturday at Gulfstream Park:
ROOM TO GROW: If trainer Michael McCarthy goes on to an outstanding career, he will almost surely be able to thank City of Light for that. The 5-year-old Quality Road horse has had an incredible past four months, winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and then the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, his last start before heading to Lane’s End Farm to enjoy a stallion’s life. McCarthy, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher who is beginning his sixth year of training on his own, hopes the two major victories prove to be a boon to his 30-horse stable. “If you’re not growing in this game, you’re dying,” McCarthy said. “So I would like that.”
ASSIST TO PLETCHER: McCarthy is grateful to Pletcher for teaching him more than the nuances of the training game. “Not only from a horse standpoint but from a personality standpoint, from a maturity standpoint, he provided me with the tools to go ahead and not only win a race like today but to be successful in business and in life,” McCarthy said. “Some of the lessons you learn from him are not necessarily horses. I took a lot from that and all the guys who worked for Todd, the same thing.” Standing next to McCarthy was someone who reminded him why he strives so hard to succeed: his 8-year-old daughter, Stella.
FOURPEAT?: Chad Brown, winner of three successive Eclipse Awards as leading trainer in North America, is off to an auspicious start in his bid to make it four in a row. The job he did with Bricks and Mortar, winner of the inaugural $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, was something special. The 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway was running for only the second time following a layoff of more than 14 months. His only prep for this was a Dec. 22 allowance race at Gulfstream Park. “Not too many trainers can do that,” said winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr. “He’s got good horses, but he knows what he’s doing.”
INAUSPICIOUS START: Shamrock Rose, winner of the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter after she won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by a head, got her 4-year-old campaign off to a less-than-promising start. She could do no better than finish fourth to mud-loving Dream Pauline in the $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Hurricane Bertie Stakes, a Grade 3 contest run at seven furlongs. That led trainer Mark Casse to suggest his champion sprinter might want more ground with maturity. “She wants to go farther,” Casse said. “So we’ll look for races and run her back two turns. But I’m not disappointed in her.”
WORLD OF TALENT: The highly-anticipated rematch between Stormy Liberal and World of Trouble, the one-two finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, fell victim to heavy rain. West Coast-based trainer Peter Miller opted to scratch Stormy Liberal from the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Stakes rather than ask him to run on a sloppy, sealed main track. That left the stage to World of Trouble, who made the most of it with an eye-catching 2 ¾-length victory. “He broke well so I just tried to hold it together,” said Irad Ortiz Jr. “When I asked him to go, he just exploded.”