Boost for Pegasus World Cup prospects of Argentinian import Eragon

Star juvenile Satono Ares wins the richest race in the world last week, the G1 Asahi Hai Futurity at Hanshin. The son of Deep Impact (the world’s third-ranked sire) was ridden by Hirofumi Shii (who gains 9pts to move up to 148 in the TRC standings) and is trained by Kazuo Fujisawa (6pt gain; now world-ranked 71). And his owner moved into the top ten in the owner’s rankings (see below). Photo:

It may be tempting to write off the latest possible runner in next month’s $12 million Pegasus World Cup, the Argentinian 5-year-old Eragon, as a no-hoper, but the message from the newly updated TRC Global Rankings is clear: don’t.

Eragon, twice a G1 winner on dirt and once on turf, has been bought by U.S. owner James McIngvale, who owns one of the 12 slots for the January 28 Pegasus, with a view to letting him take his chance in the race. McIngvale had originally hoped to aim his Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Runhappy at Gulfstream Park, but the colt will instead be beginning a stallion career at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky after disappointing in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last month.

Eragon, a son of the late Offlee Wild (who is ranked #125 in the TRC sires’ rankings), was widely regarded as one of the best performers in Argentina, and that was underlined at San Isidro racecourse on Saturday, when the big mile G1 on turf was won by the 3-year-old Le Ken, who had chased Eragon home at a respectful distance on his last start in another G1 - over a mile on dirt at Palermo last month.

While Eragon’s peak Racing Post Rating (RPR) so far, 112, is some way below those of the Pegasus big two, Arrogate (136) and California Chrome (135), it is in the same ballpark as many of the other likely contenders - Connect, for instance, has a mark of 115 - and there are reasons to believe Eragon is still progressing on dirt.

McIngvale and new trainer Laura Wohlers can certainly take heart from Le Ken’s good showing, but it wasn’t necessarily a good weekend for Eragon’s former trainer, Roberto Pellegatta. Not only did the day highlight the loss of one of his stable stars, it also helped lose him considerable ground at the top of the Argentinian trainers’ rankings.

He was tied second (at world #160) with old rival Alfredo Gaitan Dassie until Saturday, when there were three G1s on the San Isidro card. Pellegatta had just one unplaced runner, but Gaitan Dassie, in true Aidan O’Brien style, won them all. The victories of Nashville Texan, Sixties Song and Le Ken mean the 65-year-old, long one of the outstanding trainers in South America, gains 14 points in the rankings and is now world #99 (and clear #1 in his home country).

The red-hot form of the Gaitain Dassie stable also helps jockey Juan Villagra, who rode Sixties Song and Le Ken, to a ten-point gain, which moves him up from 119 to 94 in the TRC jockeys’ rankings (and to #3 in Argentina), and, more spectacularly, Santa Elena, owners of Nashville Texan and Sixties Song, to a 12-point gain and a 207-place climb in the TRC owner’s standings - they are now #72 (and #2 in Argentina, up from 8).

Gaitan Dassie and Villagra, incidentally, won two Palermo G1s in 2015 with the Chilean-bred mare Furia Cruzada before she was transferred to trainer John Gosden (world #5) for a Northern Hemisphere campaign, highlight of which has been finishing second in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot in June (with triple U.S. G1 winner Miss Temple City in fourth).

TRC Global Rankings: other significant climbers this week

JOCKEY: Anton Marcus (Modal country: South Africa). Highlight of the week: third on Table Bay in the Grand Parade Cape Guineas at Kenilworth on Saturday (a rare South African G1); 6pt gain; climbs from 23 to 19.

OWNER: Hajime Satomi (Japan). Highlight: owns 2-year-old Satono Ares, winner of the G1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes at Hanshin on Sunday (see picture above) - the richest race in the world last week and the highest rated performance on RPR (117); 5pt gain; moves up from 10 to 9.

TRAINER: Vaughan Marshall (South Africa). Highlight: the multi G1-winning 65-year-old sent out William Longsword to win the Cape Guineas at Kenilworth; 9pt gain; climbs from 346 to 221.

SIRE: Midshipman(USA). Highlight: sire of Saturday’s Gulfstream Park G3 winner Dearest; the son of Unbridled’s Song stands at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky; 5pt gain; climbs from 335 to 240.

Click here for a list of the week’s biggest points gainers.

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