Question Mark Surrounds Trademark in Pegasus World Cup
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Victoria Oliver is hoping to reverse a stable trend when she saddles BBN Racing Inc.’s Trademark for a start in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Trademark is coming off a career-best victory in the Nov. 24 Clark Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs. Oliver is just hoping that the 5-year-old gelded son of Upstart will be able to maintain his winning form over Gulfstream’s main track in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile headliner on a 13-race program that will also feature the $1 million 1/ST BET Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G3) and four other graded stakes.
“It concerns me. A lot of my horses don’t run well on the dirt at Gulfstream. I don’t know why that is, maybe because I don’t train down there, and I don’t run many down there,” said Oliver at her winter headquarters at Payson Park in Indiantown, FL.
Oliver shipped Trademark to Gulfstream Sunday to give him time to get acquainted with the surface.
“It’s always in the back of your mind whether he’s going to like it or not, because I’ve had horses go down there and not like it at all,” she said. “Most people are in the same boat except the local horses, so it is what it is.”
Despite her uncertainty, Oliver has been firmly committed to running Trademark in the Pegasus, rather than point to other international races.
“It was always in the books, because I’m not sure we wanted to go out of the country, and he runs so well at Churchill. This could have been a good race to run him in and then give him a little bit of a break and then gear him up for the summer for the races at Churchill, because Churchill has a whole series of stakes, and he loves that racetrack, so this is where we landed,” said Oliver, who stables at Keeneland from April through November.
Trademark has been a graded-stakes participant since his 3-year-old season but finally broke through with a graded-stakes victory in the 1 1/8-mile Clark, capping a productive 4-year-old campaign in which he placed in the Salvator Mile (G3) and Iselin (G2) at Monmouth, and the Lukas Classic (G2) at Churchill.
The Oliver trainee was rated in fourth behind a contested pace before launching a strong stretch kick under Fernando De La Cruz to get up in time to defeat favored First Mission by a neck.
Trademark, who will be ridden again by De La Cruz, and Brad Cox-trained First Mission are scheduled to clash again in the Pegasus.
“I think Brad really likes his horse. I only beat him a short nose, so I don’t feel overly confident, because I think all these are really nice horses when you’re running for this kind of money,” Oliver said. “It’s just going to come down to whether it’s your day, if you get the trip, and it all sets up for which horse it is. Hopefully it sets up for me.”
Oliver, the daughter of prominent Kentucky breeder/owner G. Watts Humphrey, will chase her second Grade 1 victory in a career that began in 1998.
“It’d be huge. It’d be the biggest purse money I’ve ever won in my career, so it would be a big win. It would be a big win for that horse and for BBN. There’s no saying the feeling until you do it,” said Oliver, who saddled Personal Diary for a victory in the 2014 Del Mar Oaks (G1).
Oliver would derive added satisfaction from visiting the Gulfstream winner’s circle with owners Brian Klatsky and Brendan O’Brien and stable manager Braxton Lynch.
“It would be fantastic. I’ve known Brian for 25 years. Braxton’s one of my best friends, I’ve known him my whole life. Brendan, who’s one of Brian’s work partners, I’ve known him now for quite a long time, so we’re all really good friends,” she said.
Trademark is rated at 15-1 on the morning-line in a field that features 2023 Preakness Stakes (G1) winner National Treasure, the 9-5 morning-line favorite.