In the eyes of many handicappers, Saturday’s Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park is a two-horse race.
No. 1 Knicks Go, the likely 2021 Horse of the Year, will make the final start of his career in the race, one he won a season ago. His primary opposition is No. 4 Life Is Good, who has won all but one of his career starts to date and figures to use his early speed to challenge his older rival from the jump.
The morning line tells the story here. Knicks Go is the 6-5 favorite, Life Is Good is the 7-5 second choice and no other entrant is below 10-1. One of these two horses is likely to win.
However, this does not mean the other runner has to be second.
The race comes down to Knicks Go or Life Is Good, but not both
Knicks Go has been in front at every point of call in each of his last four races. Life Is Good has never trailed at the midway point of any of his races. This isn’t to say that neither horse can rate, but it does mean that at least one of them will be out of their element as the field races up the backstretch.
With that in mind, as I look at the Pegasus, I’m taking an alternative approach, to an extent. While I think either Knicks Go or Life Is Good will wind up winning, I don’t think the other will run second, and my action will focus on that stance.
Longtime racing fans may remember No. 6 Sir Winston for winning the 2019 Belmont Stakes. His 2020 season was one to forget, as he won just once in four tries. However, he came back in 2021 at Woodbine and ran four sharp races late in the year. Since shipping to Florida, the Mark Casse trainee has put together a very strong string of workouts at Palm Meadows, including a recent bullet drill on Jan. 20.
Pegasus World Cup betting strategy
Do I think Sir Winston is incredibly likely to win? No. However, he’s going to be a big price, and if Knicks Go or Life Is Good falls out of the top two, exactas are going to pay very well. With that in mind, I’ll box Sir Winston with the two favorites in exactas, and I’ll box all three in a small trifecta as well.
$5 exacta box: 6 with 1, 4 ($20)
$1 trifecta box: 1, 4, 6 ($6)
Other plays for Pegasus day
The Pegasus World Cup finishes off a long day of racing. It’s the last of 12 races on the docket, and there’s plenty of money to be made in the undercard races as well.
I’m against a pair of Todd Pletcher trainees that will likely take money in the fourth. No. 10 Swing Shift and No. 12 Congressman are both first-time starters, and my question is, if one of them was exceptionally well-meant, why is this barn running two?
I prefer fellow first-time starter No. 5 Mackillop, who debuts for Chad Brown following a steady series of drills at Payson Park and is bred to be a good one. He’s by world-class sire Into Mischief and out of a Malibu Moon mare who is part of a strong female family. That mare, Tres Osos, is one of seven foals from her dam to race, and every one of them is a winner. I’ll also use No. 6 Bourbon Heist on a few tickets, as he’s got an experience edge over this group and cuts back to a one-turn route he’ll likely prefer, but Mackillop is the top pick.
One of my biggest price plays of the day, meanwhile, comes in the ninth. This is the Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and while likely favorite No. 4 Regal Glory is logical, there’s another who hits me as a must-use. No. 5 Gift List is a closer in a race full of early speed, and she’s been working very, very quickly ahead of her first start since June. None of her prior American starts were poor, and she looked great when winning the Grade 2 Edgewood at Churchill Downs last spring.
I think Gift List is ready to run and that she’ll get the trip she needs at a big price. She’s 15-1 on the morning line; I don’t think she’ll drift down too much off of that number. She could get the late Pick Four off to a flying start for those who have her on their tickets.