Coastal Defense, Independence Hall In the Pegasus

By Emily Shields

The last two horses making it into the body of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) field are Independence Hall and Coastal Defense. The nine-furlong race, which is worth $3 million, takes place at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 23. While favorites such as Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Knicks Go and multiple Grade 1 winner Code of Honor look formidable, filling out the rest of the spots in the 12-horse field was more difficult.

Independence Hall has won four of his seven lifetime starts. A thrilling, unbeaten juvenile, he won the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes by 12 ¼ lengths, then took the Jerome around one mile by four lengths. He ran fifth in the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby here behind Tiz the Law last year, and went to the sidelines from March until November. Switched from Michael Trombetta to Michael McCarthy, Independence Hall won an allowance comeback race at Del Mar despite a subpar trip. He most recently was fifth in the Grade 1 Runhappy Malibu Stakes.

Independence Hall still needs to prove he can go the distance. He is a son of Florida Derby (G1) and Donn Handicap (G1) winner Constitution; the latter being now known as the Pegasus. Independence Hall’s dam Kalahari Cat hails from the same female family as dual Grade 1 winner Better Lucky and Gulfstream Park stakes winner Sahara Gold.

Coastal Defense was most recently seen running fourth in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs. The son of Curlin didn’t break his maiden until June of 2020, winning at Churchill Downs. Since then he has been second twice, won an allowance, and then ran fourth in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland before the Clark. Dale Romans trains the five-year-old colt, who was an $800,000 yearling purchase back in 2017.

Coastal Defense had a fantastic workout on January 16, breezing a half mile in :47.11. It was the fastest workout time of 101 works at the distance on the day. He is stablemates with last year’s Pegasus World Cup runner up Mr Freeze, who will be back to try again in 2021.

Watch and wager on every race from Gulfstream Park live with TVG. TVG is also the place you will want to check for up to date Pegasus World Cup odds.