Independence Hall, Coastal Defense, Ride a Comet Grab Pegasus Invites

With Charlatan and Mucho Gusto passing up Pegasus invites, Independence Hall and Coastal Defense became the latest two invites for the Jan. 23 $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational. They earn spots on the also-eligible list for the Grade 1 race.

Ride a Comet-Pegasus Turf Invite
Ride a Comet outdueled Casa Creed down the Gulfstream Park stretch to win the Tropical Turf last weekend. Duplicating that in the Grade 1 Pegasus Turf Invitational will be a much bigger ask for the 6-year-old. (Image: Lauren King/Coglianese Photos)

Along with that, Ride a Comet parlayed his victory in Saturday’s Grade 3 Tropical Turf into an invite to the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf. He too, hits the also-eligible list.

Those moves fill the spaces of 2019 Pennsylvania Derby winner Math Wizard and 2020 Tampa Bay Derby winner King Guillermo. Both move off the also-eligible list and into the main field for the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus. In the 1 3/16-mile Pegasus Turf, Next Shares and Field Pass take spots in the main field.

Baffert Loses Two Out of Pegasus Main Field

Both trained by Bob Baffert, Charlatan and defending champion Mucho Gusto earned initial invites for the Pegasus. But Mucho Gusto retired last week and Baffert announced Sunday the Charlatan would pass the Pegasus for the $20 million Saudi Cup in late February.

The also-eligible horses earn spots in the 12-horse field based on availability.

Here is a look at the new Pegasus invites:

  • Independence Hall (trained by Michael McCarthy): The one-time Kentucky Derby favorite fell off the trail after a poor fifth in last year’s Florida Derby. The 4-year-old son of Constitution took the next eight months off before coming back with a flourish with a November allowance win at Del Mar. Last time out, Independence Hall finished fifth by 10 lengths to Charlatan in the Grade 1 Malibu on Santa Anita Park’s opening day Dec. 26. McCarthy won the 2019 Pegasus with City of Light.
  • Coastal Defense (Dale Romans): This 5-year-old son of Curlin gives Romans his second Pegasus invitee, joining last year’s runner-up – Mr. Freeze. Coastal Defense ran nine times in 2020, winning twice and finishing second twice. We last saw him finish fourth in the Grade 1 Clark in November, with a career-best 108 Equibase. A month earlier, Coastal Defense finished fourth in the Grade 2 Fayette.
  • Ride a Comet (Mark Casse): The definition of “lightly raced veteran,” this 6-year-old son of Candy Ride is unbeaten in his last three races coming off a 25-month layoff. Ride a Comet dind’t run from September 2018 to last October. Taking his form back further, Ride a Comet captured six of his last seven, dating to June 2018. This includes his half-length victory in the Tropical Turf and – before that – his November Grade 2 Kennedy Road Stakes win at Woodbine.

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