12/31/2016 6:19PM

Send It In has eye on Pegasus after Robb victory

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Paul Pompa Jr. opted not to point his Grade 1 winner Connect to the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. But that doesn’t mean he may not have a horse in the world’s richest race.

Send It In, a Pompa homebred, may have auditioned for a possible spot in the Pegasus with a 3 3/4-length romp in Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes for New York-breds at Aqueduct. Stalking a pace battle between Becker’s Galaxy and Iron Power,  Send It In, ridden by Manny Franco, took control at the three-sixteenths pole and drew off convincingly. Empire Dreams, last year’s Robb winner, finished second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Testosterstone. Becker’s Galaxy, Good Luck Gus, Iron Power and Wake Up in Malibu, who stumbled badly at the start, completed the order of finish.

The win was the seventh in 14 starts for Send It In, a Todd Pletcher-trained gelding by Big Brown out of the Awesome Again mare Sharp Instinct. It was the first stakes victory for Send It In, who had never run in a stakes race.

Send It In has won six of his last eight starts. His two losses in that span have come by a head and a neck.

Send It In won a second-level open company allowance race last March for his fourth consecutive win. He was later diagnosed with a spiral fracture that needed surgery to repair, according to Pompa.

“They put in a screw, we gave him the right time, he went to WinStar [Farm] and came back the right way,” Pompa said.

Send It In returned in a high-quality allowance race Dec. 9 and fell a neck short to the front-running Doyouknowsomething over a speed-favoring inner track. The inner track was certainly favoring speed Saturday, but Franco was able to keep Send It In within a length of dueling leaders Becker’s Galaxy and Iron Power, who went at it through fractions of 25.26 seconds - into the wind - and then 49.07 and 1:12.98 for six furlongs.

Send It In made a three-wide move approaching the quarter pole and took control from there.

Send It In covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.41 and returned $3.30 as the 1-2 favorite.

“I think this horse has been a stellar performer and I’m very proud of him,” Pompa said.

The Pegasus is a 1 1/8-mile race in which 12 individuals or groups have put up $1 million each to run in the race, which offers $7 million to the winner. The race is headed by California Chrome and Arrogate and there are, as of Saturday, three other confirmed runners in the race. That still leaves seven slotholders searching for a horse.

There is also the $400,000 Poseidon, also at 1 1/8 miles, on the same card.

“There is interest in him coming for either the Pegasus or the Poseidon, but I have to make that decision,” Pompa said. “The timing is right.”

Pompa felt the timing wasn’t right for Connect, winner of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 26 and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in September. Pompa said he talked to several people who had slots, but no horses, in the Pegasus about Connect, but in the end Pompa decided not to make a deal.

“We’d have to rush the horse into it and we don’t want to do that,” said Pompa, who has Connect with trainer Chad Brown at Palm Meadows in Florida. “He has a big campaign ahead of him.”

Pompa said his first major objective in 2017 with Connect is the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on June 10 at Belmont Park.