Baffert's National Treasure Made 9-5 Favorite For $3 Million Pegasus At Gulfstream

FILE - National Treasure, bottom left, with John Velazquez, leads the pack toward the first turn during the148th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, May 20, 2023, in Baltimore. Treasure was picked Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, as the 9-5 favorite for Saturday's $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)
FILE - National Treasure, bottom left, with John Velazquez, leads the pack toward the first turn during the148th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, May 20, 2023, in Baltimore. Treasure was picked Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, as the 9-5 favorite for Saturday's $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Bob Baffert is the only trainer to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational twice. And oddsmakers say he’s got a chance to win it for a third time this weekend.

Preakness winner National Treasure — trained by Baffert — has been installed as the 9-5 favorite for Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus over 1 1/8 miles of dirt at Gulfstream Park. The 4-year-old has won only one of his last nine starts, but the show he put on to win the Preakness eight months ago and a strong second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt evidently set him apart from the other Pegasus invitees.

Baffert won the inaugural Pegasus in 2017 with Arrogate and the 2020 version with Mucho Gusto. The Pegasus draws were held Sunday; National Treasure drew the No. 7 post in the expected field of 12.

“It's nice to have a horse of that caliber in a race of that caliber,” Baffert said. “I'm pretty lucky. National Treasure, he's been pretty good all year.”

Baffert has had enormous success in the Pegasus overall; out of his five starters in the seven previous runnings of Gulfstream's richest race, he's had the two winners and two others finish second. And National Treasure's recent works suggest he'll be ready for Saturday.

“He's coming into it in great shape,” Baffert said.

Godolphin's First Mission — with three wins and two seconds in five career starts, all of them last year as a 3-year-old — is the 7-2 second choice.

With just over $1.6 million in career earnings, National Treasure has won more money than any other entrant in the 12-horse Pegasus field. He is only slightly ahead of Skippylongstocking in that department; the 5-year-old who finished seventh in last year’s Pegasus is back this year and was given 8-1 odds.

Skippylongstocking — who'll have to overcome the outside post — is tied as the third choice with Grand Aspen and O'Connor.

PEGASUS TURF

Warm Heart — a filly that ran second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita in November — was installed as the 9-5 favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million Pegasus Turf, just ahead of 3-1 second choice Integration. Defending race winner Atone is one of the longer shots on the board, with a morning line of 20-1.

It's a big jump forward for Integration, who has won all three of his career starts but will run against Grade 1 company for the first time.

“I realize that and they realize that,” Integration trainer Shug McGaughey said. “We're coming from 3-year-olds to 4-year-olds. But he showed a lot of talent in all three of his races. He's going to have to show it again Saturday.”

PEGASUS FILLY & MARE TURF

Star Fortress is the 5-2 favorite in the morning line for the Grade 2, $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf, ahead of 9-2 second choice Fluffy Socks.

Defending race winner Queen Goddess is listed at 6-1, as is Didia.