- Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup is the first high profile horse race of 2021
- Breeders Cup Dirt Mile winner Knicks Go is the reasonable favorite
- Where can we find a reasonably priced option Saturday at Gulfstream Park?
The Pegasus World Cup, which has been won by champions like Arrogate and Gun Runner, has changed a lot in its short history.
When the Donn Handicap was rebranded The Pegasus in 2017, the event was restructured in a way that horses had to buy a spot at the starting gate for up to $1 million, and that created an enormous purse, $12 million in 2017 and $16 million in 2018. Now a more traditional high-end race with no buy-in, a $3 million prize still attracts top contenders.
Knicks Go, Code of Honor, and Math Wizard have all won grade one races and are seeking a second. Several contenders have won grade two or three contests.
Let’s look closely at odds to win the 2021 Pegasus World Cup, consider some of the top contenders, and factor in betting value.
2021 Pegasus World Cup Odds
|Code Of Honor||+500|
|Sleepy Eyes Todd||+1100|
|Harpers First Ride||+2000|
|Kiss Today Goodbye||+2000|
Odds taken January 21 at Bet365
The Pegasus World Cup will be contested over a-mile-and-an-eighth on the main track. Temperatures are expected to be in the high seventies with a minimal chance of rain.
Post positions may play a role in deciding the winner. Over a 13 year span only four-percent of those from number nine and further outside have won at Gulfstream at a-mile-and-an-eighth. That is a tough break for Last Judgment, Code of Honor, Mr Freeze, and Math Wizard.
NBC has television coverage with post time scheduled for 5:44 pm EST.
Favorite: Knicks Go
Since moving into trainer Brad Cox’s barn in late 2019, Knicks Go has gone from a competitive second-tier stakes horse, to a dominant force.
He won an optional claiming event by more than seven lengths in February, took off the summer, returned to crush optional claimers by ten lengths in October, and then won the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile.
Knicks Go has never run more than a-mile-and-a-sixteenth, and this will be his first race at Gulfstream. He has an ideal post position (fourth) and Cox has been white-hot over the last year or more.
Top Contenders: Sleepy Eyes Todd, Jesus’ Team, Tax, Code of Honor
Sleepy Eyes Todd has won back-to-back races including a graded event over the Gulfstream strip albeit at seven furlongs.
He won a graded event at this distance in August in West Virginia. Sleepy Eyes Todd has eight wins in 15 career starts.
Jesus’ Team won three times last year including in his last race, at the same track and distance as he will compete today.
Jesus’ Team finished second behind Knicks Go while going off at 62/1 in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile.
Tax got class relief last time out and won a stakes race at Gulfstream going away.
While Tax faces better horses today than he did in December, his five-race stretch without a victory prior to last month has more to do with facing strong competition than anything else. That said, his running lines are so so at best.
Code of Honor has won six times but just once in seven races dating back to September 2019.
He has faced elite competition too, and probably run better than Tax, though getting to the finish line first just once.
Longshots: Independence Hall, Kiss Today Goodbye
A pair of California invaders deserve a look at a price.
Independence Hall was a longshot Kentucky Derby contender, facing horses like Sole Volante and Tiz The Law when he was injured in the spring. He returned to the track in November and looked excellent.
He didn’t fair as well in his second race back, but faced the very tough Charlatan among others in a grade one test.
Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has Kiss Today Goodbye. He exits a win late last month.
The way Kiss Today Goodbye looked at the end of his last two races suggests he is in good form, will like a little extra distance, and perhaps is reaching his best now as a four-year-old.
The Pick: Independence Hall
Knicks Go is a reasonable favorite, but he has beaten strong competition exactly once. Because of that we can’t take a short price.
Tax and Code of Honor fit, but they aren’t exactly the type that you trust.
Independence Hall was terrific over his first three races, regressed a little before going down, and his comeback hasn’t been perfect but he has shown ability. His conditioning should be strong at this point, and the price is juicy.
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