We could not be happier to learn that Game Winner will be kept in training to run as a 4-year-old.
I thought enough of the 2018 Eclipse champion to make him my Kentucky Derby selection as I believed at the time that he was the best of his generation.
But like many-year-olds in the class of 2019, he never had a chance to prove or disprove that notion.
On his decision, owner Gary West told Bob Ehalt of bloodhose.com that “I don’t know if that’s the best business decision, but it’s what we’re going to do.”
Bravo, Mr. West! Now, if only Spendthrift Farm would rethink their position about retiring Omaha Beach following the Pegasus World Cup Invitational in late January—just in time for breeding season—what a boon that would be to the sport, especially if Omaha Beach manages to win an Eclipse Award this year.
When last seen, Game Winner was winning the G3 Los Alamitos Derby, not exactly the test of champions but at least it got him off his 3-year-old schneid. “We just couldn’t get him to 100% this year, said trainer Bob Baffert, “and Gary wants to enjoy watching his horses run.”
When he will return depends on the horse. “There are a lot of Grade 1s around for older horses so he’s going to get a much later start.” There was some reference to a possible surfacing in April or May.
Sounds good. We’d like to see him have a sprint prep prior to a run in the G1 Met Mile on the Belmont Stakes undercard. A victory certainly would hurt his stud career. He is not yet syndicated so much will depend on that, after some deal is struck.
Obviously, West also owns Kentucky Derby first Maximum Security, scheduled to return in Saturday’s G3 Bold Ruler, which could set the table for a run in a pari of Grade 1s, either Churchill Downs’ Clark or Aqueduct’s Cigar Mile. He is also scheduled to race at 4.
Poor health notwithstanding, that would be a sensible progression to the Pegasus World Cup, a $9 million nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park JAN 25, the track over which he blitzed his Florida Derby rivals last winter, his fourth victory on the Hallandale surface.