HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Bob Baffert was the first trainer to win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational twice. And now, he's the first to win it three times.
National Treasure, the Preakness winner last year, dug deep in the stretch to win the 1⅛-mile Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The Grade 1, $3 million race is the richest of the year at Gulfstream, and National Treasure -- the 5-2 favorite -- had to hold off hard-charging Senor Buscador in the stretch run to get the victory.
Crupi, a 30-1 shot, was third. National Treasure was ridden by Flavien Prat and returned $7.20, $5.40 and $3.80 after finishing in 1 minute, 50.51 seconds.
"I've always thought he was that good a horse," said Baffert, who has been dominant in the race with three firsts and two seconds out of his six career Pegasus entries. "And he's getting better and better. ... We felt good about him, but you still need a lot of luck. You have to ship well, you have to break well, I knew there was going to be a hot pace."
National Treasure handled it all with ease and was all alone in the stretch until the very final strides. Senor Buscador paid $7.20 and $5.20, and Crupi paid $12.60 to show.
The win snapped a four-race slide for National Treasure, which won the Preakness and then was sixth in the Belmont, fifth in the Travers, fourth in the Awesome Again and second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. But Baffert raved about how sharply the horse had been training coming into the Pegasus.
"Very brave, great preparation from Bob, he's always on point," Prat, who has a first and a third in four Pegasus appearances, said of National Treasure. "It was a great pleasure to ride him."
It was Gulfstream's biggest day of the year, replete with celebrities -- rapper Rick Ross was among those in the crowd -- and came a day after 1/ST Racing announced a Pegasus-type day will be held at one of its other tracks, Santa Anita, on Sept. 28. That will be a multimillion, Grade 1 race for 3-year-olds and up.
The California-based Baffert already is thrilled.
"Well, I'm here," Baffert said. "I hope I have a good one."
Jockey Ryan Moore made the bold move along the rail about halfway into the stretch run for trainer Aidan O'Brien. Defending Pegasus turf winner Atone -- sent off at 30-1 -- was fourth and favored Integration was fifth.
"We're absolutely delighted," O'Brien said. "It's incredible. Ryan obviously gave her an incredible ride."
Warm Heart returned $6.80 for the win in her final career race. The 4-year-old's retirement was planned before Saturday; her connections wanted to run her against males one final time.
Didia, a 7-2 favorite, was at the front most of the way and held off 27-1 shot Surprisingly to win the Grade 2, $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.
Didia got her ninth win in 14 career starts. She was ridden by Jose Ortiz for trainer Ignacio Correas IV and paid $8.60 to win.