Ivar wins the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in 2020,
After Ivar encountered a couple of setbacks the past couple of years, trainer Paulo Lobo is happy that everything has been clicking for the 7-year-old Brazilian-bred horse heading into Gulfstream Park’s $1-million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) Jan. 28.
Ivar had his penultimate Pegasus Turf work Saturday at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky., tooling five-eighths of a mile in 1:02.
“Ivar is ready,” Lobo said. “His work [Saturday] was very good, in company nice and easy, like he likes to do. His final work will be next Saturday here, and then we’re going to ship him either that Monday or Tuesday.”
Ivar has competed in the past three runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on turf. He finished fourth by a total of one length at Keeneland this past fall, third in 2021 at Del Mar and another good fourth at Keeneland in 2020. Six of the eight horses that finished in front of Ivar in those races came from Europe.
“I think his race was very good,” Lobo said of the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Mile won by European standout Modern Games. “He lost to a very top horse. Javier Castellano was riding him for the first time. He rode a very good race, and since then we’ve pointed for the Pegasus Turf and we’ve never missed a day and never had a bad day. Everything that we planned is happening, no problems.”
Ivar won Keeneland’s 2020 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in his fourth U.S. start after being a leading 2-year-old in Argentina. Lobo has had to adjust plans at times the past two years because of minor issues and turf cancellations. Ivar ran only three times in 2021 and four times last year, when he resumed competition off an eight-month layoff to win the Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial at Horseshoe Indianapolis. He was second in his two starts before the Breeders’ Cup, in the Woodbine Mile (G1) won by Modern Games and Keeneland’s Turf Mile (G1), a race Ivar won in 2020.
“We were ready to run last May and had a little foot problem that delayed his first race for 2022,” Lobo said. “But he’s been doing very well since. If you look at his past performances, he’s almost always running in Grade 1 races. It’s always tough. The three times he ran in the Breeders’ Cup, he ran very well. He has been representing America at a top level.”
Castellano will be back on board in the Pegasus, Lobo said.
Lobo said Grade 1 winner In Love will not run in the Pegasus Turf but that the 6-year-old Brazilian-bred mare Justify My Love will compete in the $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G1) on the undercard. Like Ivar, Justify My Love is owned by Bonne Chance Farm LLC and breeder Stud RDI LLC and was sired by the Japanese-bred and -raced Agnes Gold.
Justify My Love was a Group 2 winner and Group 1 placed in Argentina before being sent to Lobo last year. Off a nine-month layoff, she was sixth in her first two starts before capturing a Churchill Downs’ turf allowance race Nov. 19, her last start.
“She’s a very nice filly,” Lobo said. “It took a little while for her to adjust here, but she had a very nice win at Churchill Downs. She’s in top form now, physically and mentally. I think she’ll run well over there. The race is very tough, but I think she’s going to enjoy a mile and an eighth. She’s training super, this filly. Super.”