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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The fifth annual Pegasus World Cup (G1) is set for this Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Even though the purse (now $3 million) has been cut substantially since its first year ($12 million), the Pegasus still is a great race that attracted 12 of the country’s top older horses and anchors a loaded card that includes 7 total graded stakes.
First-race post time Saturday is 11:40 AM, while the Pegasus World Cup will be contested as race 12.
Headlining this year’s field is Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Knicks Go, who drew post 4. He’s undefeated in 3 starts since moving to the Brad Cox barn, who turned over a new leaf for the horse. Joel Rosario will have the mount once again.
Another horse coming off a big win last time out is the Danny Gargan-trained Tax. He was victorious over this track that day, winning the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) by open lengths in gate-to-wire fashion. He’ll break from post 7 with red-hot jockey Luis Saez in the irons.
One of the more consistent entries is Code of Honor, a Shug McGaughey trainee who gets a new rider in Tyler Gaffalione when he breaks from post 10. The biggest triumph of his career came in 2019 when he won the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, several months after winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) over this track.
The full field from the rail out: Sleepy Eyes Todd, Coastal Defense, Independence Hall, Knicks Go, Jesus’ Team, Kiss Today Goodbye, Tax, Harpers First Ride, Last Judgment, Code of Honor, Mr Freeze, and Math Wizard.
#4 Knicks Go – He’s shown “new life” since moving to the Cox barn, winning 3 straight without being challenged. Last time out, he set a wicked pace in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and still held on to win with ease. While this stretch out in distance is a major question, he might once again get an easy trip on the front end, and if he does, he’s going to be ultra-tough to pass. This pace should be much slower than what he faced last time out.
#7 Tax – His Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) victory last time out might have been the best of his career, so look for him to run well in this spot. He drew outside of the likely pacesetter Knicks Go, meaning he could sit just behind the favorite in a solid tracking position. If that happens, then he’ll get first run on Knicks Go and should be able to pass him if the distance proves too much.
#10 Code of Honor – This horse has tremendous class, but he hasn’t won since last June. He’s still running well, though, and must be respected in this spot. He’s also enjoyed success over this track in the past, which is a big help, but he needs pace to chase in order to have a shot and that could be a problem against a lack of speed on paper.
#1 Sleepy Eyes Todd – We love watching this old-school type run (and win) all over the country at a variety of tracks including Fonner Park, Keeneland, Lone Star, Charles Town, and Remington Park. He also excels at this distance and won over this course last time out, closing nicely in the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3). He is the logical alternative to the favorites.
#5 Jesus’ Team – He’s the classic “on the board” type who competes in many big races over his career, never looks intimidated, and slides his way into exactas and trifectas at a price. He could do more of the same here.
#8 Harpers Last Ride – He’s the mystery horse in this field. He’s won 4 of 5 starts, all stakes, but they were also all at either Laurel Park or Pimlico. This is a big jump in class, but this Pegasus has no monsters and thus seems like a good spot to take a swing at a huge purse.
#11 Mr Freeze – If we has in last year’s form at this time, then he’d likely be my pick to win, but his current form fell off so much that it’s hard to be confident in him this time around. Still, if he’s a big enough price, you might consider playing him, if for no other reason than he’s had a lot of success over this track.
#6 Kiss Today Goodbye – It’s a bit scary to leave this horse off considering he’s won 2 in a row including the San Antonio Stakes (G2) last time out, but that race came back pretty slow on paper. This looks like a much tougher challenge.
#12 Math Wizard – He just hasn’t shown a good enough form lately to seriously him back in a race of this magnitude. He has a lot of proving to do before we’ll play him in a tough spot like this.
#9 Last Judgment – We’ll see if he can wheel back on just a week’s rest for the biggest race of his career. He was impressive in his Florida-bred Sunshine Classic Stakes triumph last time out, but this is a much different ballgame.
#2 Coastal Defense – He’s been consistent lately, which makes him attractive, but he must improve from a speed figure standpoint. His prior efforts aren’t fast enough on paper to win this.
#3 Independence Hall – Why is he here? He did no running whatsoever in the Malibu Stakes (G1) last time out, and we thought it was widely known that he’s best when sprinting. This entry makes no sense.
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