Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A powerhouse slate of weekend races in Florida and California provided some hints about what's in store in the next few months in the $20 million Saudi Cup, the $12 million Dubai World Cup and their rich attendant races.
Action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby was limited, mainly because things really heat up next weekend with four official preps for the big race scattered around the country.
How things shook out:
Pegasus World Cup / Classic / Dirt Mile
National Treasure put on a show in Saturday's $3 million Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Unable to get the early lead, the 4-year-old Quality Road colt chased Main Event down the backstretch and around the stretch turn before taking lead. He then gutted out the final furlong, holding off Senor Buscador by a neck.
National Treasure, winner of last year's Preakness, finished his 3-year-old season finishing second by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile to Horse of the Year Cody's Wish.
"I've always thought he was that good a horse," trainer Bob Baffert said. "He was just very immature and he's getting better and better the way he's training."
The victory could open the door to the $20 million Group 1 Saudi Cup in February and/or the $12 million Dubai World Cup a month later.
"Not sure yet," Baffert told UPI Sunday morning. "But [he] came out of the race in great shape."
Senor Buscador was issued an invitation to the Saudi Cup after his runner-up finish, and his connections said they're likely to take the offer.
Elsewhere in the division:
At Santa Anita, Newgrange shot to the lead in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II San Pasqual and held off a late bid by Newgate by 1 length under the wire. Newgrange a 5-year-old son of Violence, earned some consideration for the Group 1 Dubai World Cup on March 30.
"I think we'd been talking about if he had run a race like this, you know, maybe taking a big swing at something like Dubai," said Newgrange's trainer, Phil D'Amato.
Runner-up Newgate also gives his trainer, the aforementioned Bob Baffert, some options about trips to the Middle East in the next two months.
Tumbarumba outfinished Castle Chaos by a nose to win Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Fred W. Hooper Stakes.
Promise Keeper led virtually gate-to-wire in Saturday's $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn Park, holding off the favorite, Seize the Night, by 1/2 length.
Filly & Mare Turf
Coolmore's globetrotting filly Warm Heart, thanks in no small part to a cool and gutsy ride by Ryan Moore, got home first in Saturday's $1 million Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park.
Warm Heart, in her career finale, looked stuck on the rail in the final furlong of the 1 1/8-mile test on firm turf. But Moore bravely urged her through a sliver of an opening to gain the lead and held off the late runs of all rivals.
Didia and jockey Jose Ortiz got an unexpectedly forward spot in Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational at Gulfstream and rolled home first by a neck over Surprisingly.
Alpha Bella got the jump on six rivals in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III La Prevoyante Stakes at Gulfstream Park and held on at the end of the 1 1/16 miles to win by 3/4 length from R Calli Kim.
Dynadrive stalked pacesetting Ocelot into the stretch run in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston Racecourse, quickly put that one away and drew off to win by 3 3/4 lengths.
Francesco Clemente, the solid favorite, left all his running to the stretch in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III William L. McKnight Stakes at Gulfstream Park, passed almost all of his rivals and kept on going to a 2 1/4-lengths victory.
Neat worked to the lead heading for the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston Race Course and quickly drew off to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Illustrator.
Bellamore rallied four-wide around dueling leaders to win Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston Racecourse by a neck.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Olivia Darling stalked a longshot pacesetter early in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream Park, took the lead with more than a furlong left and drew clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
Hot Fudge dueled down the lane with Dr B in Saturday's $150,000 Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct before prevailing by 1/2 length. The other four were well strung out behind.
B G Warrior opened up a gaping advantage in Saturday's $125,000 Wishing Well Stakes at Turfway Park and coasted home first by 5 3/4 lengths.
The Road to the Roses
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent Speak Easy for his first start against a "loaded" field in Gulfstream Park's second race and the Constitution colt responded with a 1 3/4-length win, running 7 furlongs in 1:21.96. Mage won the same race a year ago and continued on to win the Kentucky Derby.
At Aqueduct, odds-on favorite Bergen tracked the early speed in the $100,000 Jimmy Wakefield Stakes, took over when asked by jockey Manny Franco and kicked away to win by 5 1/4 lengths.
Faced with a muddy track, six of the nine entries scratched from Saturday's $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at Laurel Park. That left Guanare as the odds-on favorite, and the Runhappy colt responded with a 2 3/4-length win after stalking the other two.
Things heat up again Saturday with Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Fierceness slated to make his 3-year-old debut Saturday in the $250,000 Grade III Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and other major preps at Oaklawn Park, Aqueduct and Santa Anita.