- Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup is the first huge American horse race of 2022
- Breeders Cup winners Knicks Go and Life Is Good provide a sexy match-race of sorts
- How will the Pegasus be run, and could that provide an upset?
On paper Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup at Churchill Downs should be exactly the type of race the average sports fan can gravitate towards. Knicks Go and Life Is Good, arguably the best two horses in the US get together, and both appear to want an all out battle at the front for the full mile-and-an-eighth trek at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
We are used to horse racing revolving around the Triple Crown. Kentucky Derby odds are out, prep races are being run, and the countdown has begun. That said, three year olds aren’t fully mature. This is likely to be the final race of Knicks Go’s career. Had Life Is Good been healthy last year, he would have been a massive favorite in the Kentucky Derby. And with two marque favorites, the odds will be juicy on everybody else.
Let’s examine the prices and consider what sort of wager we could make.
2022 Pegasus World Cup Odds
|Life Is Good||+140|
Odds as of January 26th
This is the sixth running of the Pegasus World Cup, which was very different and innovative originally. The first three times they ran the Pegasus, there was a significant entry fee ($1 million in 2017 and 2018). With the entry fee going into the purse, the pot was $12 million when Arrogate won in 2017 and $16 million when Gun Runner triumphed a year later. Recently, the entry fee has been eliminated, and the total prize is $3 million.
Because of the way that betting on horse racing takes place, with two big favorites in the field, the pari-mutuel pool necessitates everyone else being a square price. That said, what if you think Knicks Go or Life Is Good will win? The answer is probably an exotic bet of some sort.
Post time is slated for 5:34 pm EST between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. NBC has television coverage. Temperatures are expected to be in the 50’s with no strong likelihood of rain.
Aside from the $20 million Saudi Cup in February, and his ho-hum performance upon return from the Middle East at Belmont Park in June, Knicks Go has been perfect for two calendar years. Eight wins in ten races during that span include November’s easy triumph in the Breeders Cup Classic.
Every race Knicks Go wins comes with the same script. He gets out well, establishes an easy lead, and coasts home. Many thought he would find company at the start of the Breeders Cup Classic. When he found himself alone on the back stretch, the race was over. In fact, it looked a lot like last year’s Pegasus World Cup.
Knicks Go will break from the rail, and there is little doubt what his tactics will be. That said, Life Is Good has a similar style.
At this time last year Life Is Good was the Kentucky Derby favorite. When he pushed his record to three-for-three in early March, he became a heavy Run for the Roses chalk. However, he got injured, and didn’t return to the track until August. Having never run more than a-mile-and-a-sixteenth, he passed on the Breeders Cup Classic, and romped in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile.
It is fair to ask how good Life Is Good’s competition has been. There is no doubt it is inferior to Knicks Go’s. This is also an eighth of a mile longer than Life Is Good has run before. It is his first race at Gulfstream Park. A winner of five of six races, while it was his first race in more than five months, he lost to Jackie’s Warrior, the best horse he has ever faced when they met in August.
Life Is Good seemed truly special, Kentucky Derby/Triple Crown type elite early last year. There really is no reason to think he isn’t that horse, we just were denied the opportunity to see if he’d win the classic races. Like Knicks Go, he is always on the lead. Will either horse switch styles, or do they go at each other from the get go?
The styles of Knicks Go and Life Is Good make finding a longshot really tempting. While both are unquestionable among the best horses in the country, if they go at each other’s throats from the start, somebody running hard late should be in a great position with the two champs having taken a lot out of each other over the first mile of the race.
Knicks Go has won seven graded stakes races and five grade ones. Life is Good has taken four graded stakes. The rest of the field has four graded stakes scores combined. The most prominent among those is Sir Winston’s victory at +1020 in the 2019 Belmont Stakes.
Sir Winston has three wins since that magical afternoon. Recently he has been running very well on a synthetic track at Woodbine in Toronto, Canada. He comes from the rear, and has showed some versatility in 2021 running effectively at a-mile-and-a-sixteenth. He has never beaten horses of this caliber, but is in good form, has a track record of upsets, and has earned almost $1.2 million.
Like Sir Winston, Chess Chief does his best running late. He wasn’t particularly close to Knicks Go when they faced each other in October, but earned a graded stakes victory in March, and last time out was sharp in a stakes race at the Fair Grounds.
Chess Chief may not be strong enough to win, but should be running late and could easily hit the board. If the pace is super hot, and the two champions blow each other out, somebody has to swoop in and win. Chess Chief has five career victories, and has routinely faced top horses.
Pick: Life Is Good (+140)