Pegasus World Cup: Between Hard Races, Round Pen Plays Important Role For Jesus’ Team

On the morning after his hard-fought victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Jesus’ Team was very much on course for a planned start in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 23.

“Jesus came out of the race good and happy,” trainer Jose D’Angelo said.

Jesus’ Team spent Sunday morning winding down in a round pen at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach, after grinding out a victory by three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/8-mile headliner of Saturday’s 22nd Claiming Crown, a nine-race event that pays tribute to the claiming horses that provide the backbone of the daily racing programs at racetracks throughout the country.

“I’ll give him a week in the round pen before preparing for the Pegasus World Cup,” said D’Angelo. “In between the hard races the last five months, I think the round pen has been very good for him. It’s good for him mentally and physically,”

Jesus’ Team, a 3-year-old son of Tapiture, became Claiming Crown-eligible when he started his career in the claiming ranks but has developed into a multiple Grade 1 stakes-placed performer, having finished third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in his two starts prior to the Jewel to earn the 2-5 favorite’s role Saturday. The stretch-running colt worked hard to earn the victory over loose-on-the-lead pacesetting Storm Runner, who did his best to fight off the favorite. Jockey Luis Saez, who rode six winners Saturday, opted to keep Jesus’ Team closer to the early pace than usual to closely monitor the dangerous Storm Runner.

“It was a hard race. He had only one work before the race. I chose only one work to keep him happy and healthy. I had confidence in him,” D’Angelo said. “In his last two races, he ran back to front – only one move. [Saturday] he made two runs, like he did in the Jim Dandy. He ran close to the front early. That’s not good for him.”

D’Angelo said he expects the Jewel to set up Jesus’ Team perfectly for the Pegasus.

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