2022 Pegasus World Cup Invitations Are Coming In, But Not Everyone Wants To Dance With Knicks Go

Written By Dave Bontempo on January 19, 2022 - Last Updated on January 29, 2022
Two men bathe a black horse at the Pegasus World Cup

Savor the hype, the buildup and the constant evolution of the Pegasus World Cup.

Something special is developing for the horse-racing industry surrounding this $3 million event at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, on Jan. 29. Bettors can access the action via TVG.

Gulfstream Park officials seek to propel this sixth annual showcase into a formidable winter-racing magnet.

Fans and bettors will have the opportunity to observe the ground floor of a budding powerhouse. There are momentum signals at the event: live music, celebrities, people with fancy outfits and a carnival atmosphere.

The net effect of these outlines is the possibility that, slowly, the Pegasus will become another Kentucky Derby. A January Jubilee, a Gulfstream Gala, a horse-racing destination.

At some point — in the coming years — this is possible.

The Pegasus has something else to proclaim this year: The nation’s top two horses, Knicks Go and Life Is Good, have accepted their invitations. Knicks Go triumphed in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Life Is Good won the Dirt Mile on the same card. They have been compared on numerous levels all year. Now, they go head to head. If that didn’t raise the emotional stakes enough, this is projected to be Knicks Go’s last race. He will try to become the first repeat winner of the Pegasus dirt race.

What you need to know for the 2022 Pegasus World Cup

What: The $3 million Pegasus World Cup
When: Jan. 29, Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, approximate post time of 5:45 p.m.
Race distance: 1/1-8 miles
Likely favorites: Knicks Go and Life Is Good, both recent Breeders’ Cup champions
Other betting highlights: Up for grabs is a total of $5.2 million in graded stakes races throughout the day.

The Pegasus World Cup was the richest horse race globally for its first two years. Organizers established a $12 million purse in 2017 and an unprecedented $16 million in 2018.

Wiser financial heads ultimately prevailed. The Pegasus relinquished that distinction to the Dubai World Cup, now $12 million and preparing to run on March 26. Gulfstream Park officials instead invested in strengthening the entire card and garnering all-day betting interest. The result was a program of seven graded-stakes races, placed throughout a card that starts around noon EST.

Keep checking TVG to determine exact post times.

The lineup includes:

Pegasus World Cup 1/1-8 miles dirt$3 million
Pegasus World Cup Turf1/1-8 miles, turf $1 million
Filly and Mare Turf1/1-6 miles$500,000
Inside Information7 furlongs$200,000
William McKnight 1/1-2 miles$200,000
La Prevoyante1/1-2 miles$150,000
Fred Hooper1 mile$150,000

How to interpret invitation news

The Pegasus does not operate like the Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup events. Pegasus officials extend invitations to owners rather than the horses running in qualifying in races that garner points toward nominations. After the invitations unfold, owners make multiple considerations. That’s a distinct angle in the makeup of the race.

Once hot favorites Knicks Go and Life Is Good were confirmed, owners of similarly matched horses declined the invitation.

Hot Rod Charlie is the best example of this dynamic. He finished a good, yet clear, fourth to Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6. Rather than enter and get perhaps second- or third-place money on a race with a $3 million total purse, his connections sent him to Dubai to prepare for the $12 million Dubai World Cup. Hot Rod Charlie is scheduled for a prep race there on Feb. 4. Thus, he had a 16-hour flight covering 8,300 miles this week (we don’t know if he got a first-class upgrade).

That’s what happened after Hot Rod Charlie’s owners did the math. Race in a $3 million or $12 million pool? For them, the Pegasus was a good race to bypass.

What remains in the wake of a Knicks Go-Life Is Good superpower summit is an invite for horses whose owners would be satisfied with a third-place purse.

There are still no guaranteed wins at the track

Yes, Knicks Go and Life Is Good tower above the field. They also have the same running style, bolting for the lead. Of course, there’s a downside to that.

If they both contest the pace early, the resulting speed duel could open the door for someone else to run them down in the homestretch.

Of the horses announced to participate, the best credentials belong to Sir Winston. The 2019 Belmont Stakes winner has been running steadily and comes off a win in the Grade 3 Valedictory Stakes at 1/1-2 miles.

Initial betting approach

Gamblers will have to make a stand regarding whom to bet on the win line. Knicks Go and Life Is Good should keep the win bet playable, but both will be short-priced.

Players who want to link them up in an exacta can determine projected payouts a few minutes before the race. Then, estimated totals will be posted on their screens. That’s extremely important.

Let’s say the exacta payout is projected at $22. A gambler taking a $10 exacta box would spend $20 and gain a return of $110 if these horses finished first and second.

What if the payout is $11 for Knicks Go on top and $18 with Life Is Good? For a big bettor, this box bet won’t be worth it. A player might instead put $15 on one of the combinations, $5 on the other. That’s why finding the payout in advance is beneficial.

Boxing a trifecta to boost payouts

A $1 trifecta box costs $6. Picking Knicks Go, Life Is Good and the right third horse would produce a payout. If the third horse in this mix has a nice price — say 4-1 or higher (an arbitrary number), back it up with a separate win bet.

Superfecta bets to consider

Play this wager with caution if you believe Knicks Go and Life Is Good will be first and second. A $1 superfecta box costs $24, but the return might not be there. So break it up for a low-cost alternative.

Let’s say one’s favorite horses are the 5 and 6. The next two in line are the 7 and 8. This wager can be split rather than spending $24 to combine all in one box. Take a $1 superfecta key with the 5 on top of the 6, 7 and 8, or the 6 over the 5, 7 and 8. It costs $6. Or, put the 5 and 6 in the first two spots. The bet would be a $1 superfecta key that reads 5-6 with 5-6 with 7-8 with 7-8. Cost: $4.

Colonel Liam headlines the Pegasus World Cup Turf

How good is this Pegasus program? There’s a $1 million race on the undercard. Colonel Liam does not have much company there — yet. That will materialize, and this race will probably be more wide open than the main race. Like Knicks Go in the dirt race, Colonel Liam is the defending champion on the turf and seeks to become a two-time champion.

Photo by AP | Lynne Sladky
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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