Jan 23 2021: The Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
2021 could be the year when ads for this special day of horse racing promote the fastest horses on the planet rather than the parties and celebrities, given that attendance will be capped at 50 percent of track capacity and tickets will likely sell out quickly.
$3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational starters
Post Horse Trainer Jockey Morning line odds
1 Sleepy Eyes Todd Miguel Silva Jose Ortiz 8-1
2 Coastal Defense Dale Romans Corey Lanerie 15-1
3 Independence Hall Mike McCarthy Flavien Prat 20-1
4 Knicks Go Brad Cox Joel Rosario 5-2
5 Jesus’ Team Jose D’Angelo Irad Ortiz Jr. 8-1
6 Kiss Today Goodbye Eric Kruljac Mike Smith 10-1
7 Tax Danny Gargan Luis Saez 5-1
8 Harpers First Ride Claudio Gonzalez Angel Cruz 10-1
9 Last Judgment Mike Maker Paco Lopez 20-1
10 Code of Honor Shug McGaughey Tyler Gafflione 9-2
11 Mr Freeze Dale Romans John Velazquez 30-1
12 Math Wizard Saffie Joseph Jr. Edgar Zayas 20-1
$1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf
Post Horse Trainer Jockey Morning line odds
1 Next Shares Richard Baltas Drayden Van Dyke 20-1
2 Breaking the Rules Shug McGuaghey John Velazquez 10-1
3 Storm the Court Peter Eurton Julien Leparoux 12-1
4 North Dakota Shug McGaughey Jose Ortiz 10-1
5 Colonel Liam Todd Pletcher Irad Ortiz Jr. 7-2
6 Largent Todd Pletcher Paco Lopez 9-2
7 Aquaphobia Mike Maker Joe Bravo 20-1
8 Anothertwistafate Peter Miller Joel Rosario 5-1
9 Cross Border Mike Maker Tyler Gafflione 15-1
10 Pixelate Michael Stidham Edgar Zayas 15-1
11 Say the Word Philip D’Amato Flavien Prat 6-1
12 Social Paranoia Todd Pletcher Luis Saez 8-1
The Stronach Group, owner of the Hallandale Beach, Florida, track, told the Thoroughbred Daily News that upward of 7,000 fans could be admitted under the half-capacity plan for the 90-day “Championship Meet,” that began on Dec. 2. Fans also will be subject to social distancing and other restrictions.
Whether or not you can attend, the headline races — the $3 million Pegasus World Cup it and the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf – should both be well worth watching. The undercard isn’t half bad either, featuring five other stakes races.
The Pegasus World Cup, a 1 1/8th mile race for 4-year-olds and older on the main track, will be run under its current name for the fifth time after being conducted for decades as the Donn Handicap for lesser money. To the winner goes more than $1.6 million in purse money and a guaranteed spot in the $20 million Saudi Cup – the world’s richest horse race – on Feb. 20.
This year’s running also will usher in what reformers hope will be a new era in U.S. racing, with no race-day medication allowed, including the near ubiquitous Lasix.
The two top races will be broadcast live by NBC Sports from 4:30 pm-6:00 pm ET.
The Pegasus World Cup Horses 2021
With seven of the 10 starters from the Breeders’ Cup Classic retired shortly after the race – including the top three finishers – the World Cup field figures to attract several 2020 Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup starters still in training, as well as some fresh faces looking to make an impact in the older horses division in 2021.
The fields for both marquee races are just beginning to take shape, but the connections of Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont and Travers Stakes, and Jesus’ Team, runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, are both being pointed toward the Pegasus World Cup.
In keeping with Gulfstream Park’s overall profile, forwardly placed runners tend to have an advantage in the race, with all four winners since the race became the Pegasus World Cup racing within two lengths of the lead at the first call.
It also typically doesn’t pay to drift too far from the favorite, since previous winners Arrogate, City of Light, Gun Runner and Mucho Gusto were all either first or second in the wagering.
Betting Odds & Picks
U.S. horse wagering sites, such as TVG and Amwager, available in 40+ states, will offer odds and betting lines on the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in 2021, Amwager’s experts will offer their best horses predictions and best picks on the favorites. Check out all bonus and promo offers for the horse racing events.
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Knicks Go is the one to catch in Pegasus World Cup
Some stars will be missing from the firmament of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the second-richest race in North America won’t sparkle.
The list of absent horses that would have been serious contenders in the 1 1/8th mile race for 4-year-olds and up at Gulfstream Park is long – including marquee names like Charlatan, Tiz the Law and defending champ Mucho Gusto. But the runners filling their spots in the starting gate are hardly slouches.
Headlining the cast is Knicks Go, the blazing fast winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Keeneland. Other top contenders include Code of Honor, winner of five graded stakes; late-blooming Sleepy Eyes Todd, who has captured four of his last six starts; and Tax, best known for his victory in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes last summer at Saratoga.
The card also will feature the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, a 1 1/16th mile race on the lawn that would be a starring attraction on almost any other racing day.
Broadcast and ‘jockey cam’ livestream
NBC and TVG will broadcast both races beginning at 4:30pm EST, and a limited number of fans – roughly 6,000 or 7,000 – will be on hand to provide an authentic soundtrack, all while wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executives with 1/ST (pronounced “first), a new consumer-facing brand recently launched by racetrack owner The Stronach Group, also plan to pioneer a new “second-screen experience” for those who can’t attend: a livestream of jockeys’ helmet cams during the race on Facebook, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Handicapping the race
While the pace of many races is open to interpretation, there’s little guesswork in handicapping the Pegasus World Cup: Knicks Go is almost certain to jet to the front and play “catch me if you can.” With his dominating speed, he also figures to be favored by bettors.
There are other horses with early foot in the field, but none appears capable of matching strides with Knicks Go in the early stages. And speed has been a valuable commodity in the first four runnings of the Pegasus, renamed in 2017 after being run for many years as the Donn Handicap, with all the winners running on or close to the lead.
The biggest potential weak spot for the 5-year-old Maryland-bred son of Paynter, who is trained by Eclipse Award finalist Brad Cox and will be ridden by top jockey Joel Rosario, is the distance, which is a half furlong farther than he has ever run in 17 career starts.
It’s possible that he’ll be 10 lengths clear at the top of the stretch and won’t have to worry about that final 110 yards – about the length of a football field. But it’s also possible that another horse will apply pressure on the second turn or upper stretch to see just what he’s made of, which could trigger a calvary charge down the stretch.
Cox didn’t win 1,481 races last year by accident, and Rosario will certainly be mindful of the need to save some energy for the finish. The speed-favoring Gulfstream track won’t hurt either.
But it makes for a dicey betting proposition, and not one where you want to loosen the rubber bands on your bankroll.
Knicks Go will probably be around 2-1 in the wagering, which is too low to consider for anything other than possible use in exotic wagers.
I’ll box him in exactas with the horses I see as the most likely upsetters — Code of Honor and Sleepy Eyes Todd.
I’m taking a chance by leaving out Tax, but I think he’s more speed oriented than Code of Honor and is most likely to pay the price by trying to stay in proximity of the front-runner.
I’ll toss in a couple bombs in a few small trifectas as well – the always-overlooked Jesus’ Team and Coastal Defense, an allowance winner who finished fourth in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes, just over a length behind runner-up Code of Honor, in November at Churchill Downs despite breaking a step slow.