The fifth running of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational is Saturday, Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park. The favorite from Wednesday’s post draw looks to be the weakest in the five years of the event. Knicks Go (5-2) drew post No. 4, and he’ll break to the lead looking to wire the field as he did in his last race when winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November.
Favorites have won two of the four editions of the Pegasus Invitational, but I wouldn’t bet on Knicks Go at low odds. He’s won 5-of-17 starts and ran his best race in the Breeders’ Cup. But if finding value is your game, you’ll say no to betting Knicks Go.
Top track announcer Pete Aiello will make the call of the Pegasus and all the races on Saturday, Jan. 23 from Gulfstream Park. Race 12 post time is at 5:44 p.m. ET on NBC. For the second straight year, the Pegasus prize pool is $3 million. The first three years had a prize pool of $12 million, $16 million and $9 million.
The Pegasus World Cup looms large with the winner awarded an automatic entry into the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 20. Also, the race prior to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup is the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf. There are five other graded stakes races as part of the biggest day of racing yet in 2021.
|1||Sleepy Eyes Todd||8-1||J. Ortiz||M. Silva|
|2||Coastal Defense||15-1||C. Lanerie||D. Romans|
|3||Independence Hall||20-1||F. Prat||M. McCarthy|
|4||Knicks Go||5-2||J. Rosario||B. Cox|
|5||Jesus’ Team||8-1||I. Ortiz, Jr.||J. D’Angelo|
|6||Kiss Today Goodbye||10-1||M. Smith||J. Kruiljac|
|7||Tax||5-1||L. Saez||D. Gargan|
|8||Harpers First Ride||10-1||A. Cruz||C. Gonzalez|
|9||Last Judgment||20-1||P. Lopez||M. Maker|
|10||Code of Honor||9-2||T. Gaffalione||S. McGaughey|
|11||Mr Freeze||15-1||J. Velazquez||D. Romans|
|12||Math Wizard||20-1||E. Zayas||S. Josepth, Jr.|
aturday graded stakes races including the Pegasus World Cup Invitational from Gulfstream Park
The breakdown and analysis of the Pegasus World Cup contenders can be viewed in the TVG betting guide.
I reached out to the handicappers at Guaranteed Tip Sheet and its Horse Racing Radar site that provides articles and handicapping tools for horse racing. They provide a ‘Profile of a Winner’ on big races like the Pegasus World Cup.
PROFILE OF A WINNER
Based on the Profile of a Pegasus Winner, the 2021 Champion is coming off a win, ran the best speed figure in his last of three starts, topped 100 in all three, will be second or third for the first half mile, and be on the lead for good after 6 furlongs.
Five horses of the dozen in the 2021 Pegasus group hit triple digit Equibase speed figures in their last three races.
Handicapper Rich Bieglmeier notes that Code of Honor has not won in his last four starts, “but did finish runner-up in his last two races.” Bieglmeier added Code of Honor was the favorite in his last race, a 14 horse field in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. “His strong closing stretch run saw him pass Coastal Defense and Mr Freeze.”
Sleepy Eyes Todd and Kiss Today Goodbye are more closers or stalkers, and not likely to be near the front after the first quarter mile. But Sleepy Eyes Todd and favorite Knicks Go both won their last starts with their highest Equibase Speed Figures for their last three races. Harpers First Ride has won his last two races and 10-of-17 overall, but has never run in a Grade 1 or Grade 2 race.
Lead handicapper Chris O’Rorke adds that “Knicks Go best fits the Profile of a Pegasus Winner and will remain a public choice.” However, he notes that the lightly-framed horse will have to carry his speed an added distance following his record-breaking performance in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Guaranteed Tip Sheet offers picks on all the races from numerous racetracks around the U.S. and includes key notes and comments on the graded stakes races.
Mike Shutty, the handicapper and author of Horse Racing Nation’s ‘Super Screener,’ provides key race analysis based on a robust, time-tested research methodology driven by a powerful set of rules. The Super Screener provides detailed race and horse analysis with pace projections, race profiles and wagering suggestions.
Super Screener also has Code of Honor as a top board hitter with Knicks Go the speed runner and pace presser Tax key challengers and contenders. Knicks Go offers no value and is a bit vulnerable as the favorite.
If you’re looking for value and longshots, then Super Screener is high on both of trainer Dale Romans runners Coastal Defense and Mr Freeze, who finished second in the Pegasus World Cup last year after running on the lead. However, Mr Freeze also finished a well-beaten sixth behind winner Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Coastal Defense is a lightly race runner who finished fourth in the Clark Handicap but suffered some traffic trouble at the top of the stretch and still finished with his best-ever speed figure. The previous Grade II race Coastal Defense finished a very close fourth behind winner Mr Freeze.
With the handicappers insight, I like Coastal Defense and Mr Freeze as win contenders at longer odds and definite inclusions in your exacta, trifecta and Pick 5 wagers for a payoff along with Code of Honor.
You can bet on it.