2021 Pegasus World Cup Entries: Harpers First Ride

In the days leading up to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, usracing.com will profile the horses in the race set for Jan. 23. The profiles will be updated on Jan. 20 with morning-line odds, post positions and jockeys.

By Lynne Snierson

The Maryland-bred Harpers First Ride looks to build upon the ‘Big Mo” he established during his outstanding 2020 season, when he won four of his last five starts in stakes races, all at the Maryland tracks. One of those stakes scores was in the storied Pimlico Special (G3) on Preakness Weekend in early October.

Trainer Claudio Gonzalez caught lightning in a bottle when he claimed this  son of Paynter for $30,000 out of a win at Churchill Downs in September 2019. Harpers First Ride has gone on to win nine more times for Gonzalez, who dominates the Maryland circuit and topped the year-end standings for the fourth straight year.

This gelding took seven of 11 races last year and Gonzalez said that he keeps getting better and better in every race. But the Pegasus (G1) presents a big class hike from the $100,00 Native Dancer, which he won last out at Laurel Park on December 26 at 1 1/8 miles. Nonetheless, he is proven at the Pegasus distance and he doesn’t need the race to go all his way.

“He’s the kind of horse that can run all day. He does everything right,” said Gonzalez. “When he runs if you push him, he can be on the lead or he can come from behind. This is just a nice horse.”

Harpers First Ride had his first breeze at Gulfstream on January 16, and just got a feel for his new surroundings, traveling 4 furlongs in :59.25. His time was the slowest of 101 horses working the same distance.

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Pegasus World Cup Profile: Harpers First Ride

Post position: TBD

Odds: TBD

Trainer: Claudio Gonzalez

Jockey: TBD

Owners: MCA Racing Stable LLC

Age: 5

Career record: 17 10-2-1

Career earnings: $573,055

Top Equibase speed figure: 110

Pedigree: Paynter- Polyester by Tiz Wonderful

Color: Dark Bay

Running style: Versatile

Notes: Gonzalez, who worked his way up from the bottom on the Monmouth Park backside over15 years before going out on his own with five horses in 2012, is looking for his first G1 victory. Last July he returned to Monmouth to run Lebda in the Haskell (G1) and saddled Harpers First Ride in the Monmouth Cup (G3) to a fifth-place finish…No matter the Pegasus result, Gonzalez is also a winner. He beat testicular cancer in 2008 while being unable to come to the barn to work at his job for trainer Ben Perkins, Jr. for the entire six months he underwent surgery, chemotherapy and treatment. Perkins and his owners rallied to support Gonzalez and his wife and children for the entire time.

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Pegasus World Cup Contenders

Code of Honor
Shug McGaughey
W.S. Farish
Harpers First Ride
Claudio A. Gonzalez
MCA Racing Stable LLc
Jesus’ Team
Jose D’Angelo
Grupo 7C Racing Stable
Kiss Today Goodbye
J. Eric Kruljac
John Sondereker
Knicks Go
Brad Cox
Korea Racing Authority
Mr Freeze
Dale Romans
Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister
Sleepy Eyes Todd
Miguel Angel Silva
Thumbs Up Racing, LLC
Danny Gargan
R.A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch
True Timber
Jack Sisterson
Calumet Farm
Math Wizard
Saffie Joseph Jr.
John Fanelli, Khalid Mishref, Cash is King LLC, LC Racing LLC, Collarmele Vitelli Stables LLC, Ioannis, Zouas, Bassett Stables
Independence Hall
Michael W. McCarthy
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC, Verratti, Kathleen and Verratti, Robert N.
Coastal Defense
Dale Romans
Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Helen K. Groves Revocable Trust
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