Unique Sleepy Eyes Todd heads for Pegasus

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Sleepy Eyes Todd will continue his whistle-stop tour of the United States when he tackles the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park later this month.

Owner David Cobb of Thumbs Up Racing and trainer Miguel Silva have confirmed the $3m contest on January 23 is the next stopping point for an in-form contender.

The grey son of Paddy O’Prado has got quite a story developing. His last nine starts have seen him partnered by as many different riders, while the journey has brought him to Sam Houston, Fair Grounds, Fonner Park, Lone Star, Charles Town, Santa Anita, Keeneland and Gulfstream Park as a four-year-old during 2020.

Trainer Silva revealed that Sleepy Eyes Todd makes light of the travel once his routine is maintained. Therefore, connections can pick the races they feel he’s best suited to, without any fears over distance or travelling.

“Management is always hard when you have a good horse, but with this guy it’s been amazing,” said Silva. “We’re able to pick races where we can win. We’re able to make the best decisions not for the owner, not for the trainer, but for the horse.”

Through those experiences, Silva has figured that Sleepy Eyes Todd needs a two-week period to acclimatise himself in new surroundings.

Groom Rafael Martinez and exercise rider Jose Sandoval are part of the team that go everywhere with him to maintain familiarity, though they are not alone. Go Speed Racer Go, an unraced two-year-old also owned by Thumbs Up Racing, makes the journeys too.

“They are good friends,” Silva said. “They like each other. They play a lot.”

Winner of four from eight starts in 2020, the $540,760 prizemoney pocketed by Sleepy Eyes Todd took his career earnings $744,825 – giving his owners quite the return on a $9,000 purchase at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Amongst his highlights last year were a sweeping 7½-length win in the Charles Town Classic (G2) in August, while he ended the year in supreme form.

He came from last-to-first for a ready success in the Lafayette Stakes as part of the Breeders’ Cup undercard at Keeneland in early November under Joel Rosario. He then signed off with a stalking ride from Tyler Gaffalione in the seven-furlong Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park on December 19 – repelling none other than Breeders’ Cup Sprint third Firenze Fire in doing so.

Track, trip and occasion don’t appear to faze Sleepy Eyes Todd and he’ll return to the mile-and-one-furlong trip for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational later in the month with connections ‘amazed’ at what he does.

“He can come from behind. He can be on the lead. He can be mid-pack,” Silva suggested. “He can run six-furlongs. He can run a mile-and-an-eighth. It’s just amazing what he can do.”