Dissecting The Pegasus World Cup Invitational – Grade 1, Purse $9,000,000 1 1/8 miles
By George Sette
The Pegasus World Cup, Gulfstream Park, Grade 1, Purse $7,000,000 1 1/8 miles
There is nothing like having a big race a week before Super Bowl Sunday. It is a brand new year and soon enough the birds will be chirping, the trees budding and we will all be talking about the 3-year old Triple Crown Races and the ever anticipated first Saturday in May.
This is our 3rd time around since this mega race inaugurated back in 2017 when we witnessed Arrogate emerging victorious with Mike Smith in the irons. That was followed by last year’s masterful performance by Gun Runner ridden to perfection by Florent Geroux.
Yes, we have something to get excited about, a fabulous Gulfstream Park card, highlighted of course, by this 3rd running of our nations richest race.
Here is how I see it all happening. I listed my horses in my very best order of finish and probability of winning, and hitting the board.
# 3 City of Light… Castellano in the saddle for trainer Michael McCarthy who has his colt primed for what could be his absolute best effort. He’s always shown to be versatile in adapting to new surfaces as he makes his Gulfstream Park debut. He’s clearly never been better and never off the board. 9 out of 10 exacta finishes, winning 5 times and often impressively. He’s an instant pace factor and has been working brilliantly. It’s a tough race, but I just have the feeling this colt may be game for his very best yet.
#10 Audible….An interesting switch to Prat, up for Pletcher. I have always admired this hard-hitting NY Bred. He came back running in November to beat an easy field after spending the better part of 6 months on the shelf after his run for the roses last May. His last was terribly disappointing, failing to get up as the
1 to 9 odds on choice. He was wide in the slop over this Gulfstream Park strip, but I just think he never gave it his all. I am trusting Pletcher here to have him ready and to perhaps return to the magic he showed us at the end of 2017 and into the Spring of 2018. I am expecting him to menace this field with his best effort.
# 5 Accelerate… An absolute dynamic colt who needs no introduction, and now seeks his 5th straight Grade 1 win. He is just a neck away from winning 7 straight. He was my top choice at the BC Classic (click here to read Geo’s BC preview) and he made me a winner with his bold and confident burst through the stretch. He absolutely loves this 9-furlong distance. He makes his Gulfstream Park debut here. Rosario is back up for John Sadler, and for obvious reasons, he is capable to better my rating, but I am selecting him 3rd today, just feeling we are asking him to do too much.
# 4 Seeking the Soul… This guy was 2nd to my top choice City of Light in the BC Dirt Mile, but then disappointed those who backed him as the favorite in the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs. He is certainly dangerous on his best day and he comes into this race fresh and fit with a series of solid breezes.
Johnny V is up for Dallas Stewart, and I feel he should be used in your deeper gimmicks and when using multiple horses in your muti-race wagers.
# 8 Gunnevera... This colt will no doubt be the sentimental choice with the locals at Gulfstream Park, so with that you will lose at least some value at the window. You also get the great Irad Ortiz up for the 2nd time fresh off winning the Eclipse Award for best rider last night at a ceremony at none other than Gulfstream Park. He was a hard-charging 2nd to Accelerate in the BC Classic. He has had 3 shots at 9 furlongs and is 3 for 3 in the money, albeit, never getting to the wire first.
The locals love Antonio Sano and this is a nice horse, but to me he needs an electric pace and all kinds of room to pull this off. I’m just getting the feeling he will settle for where I have him at 5th.
# 12 Pattern Recognition… He’s won 2 straight, the Kelso and Cigar Mile. Any time you get Jose Ortiz riding for Chad Brown you must consider. He has high speed and should burst out from this 12 hole and make his presence felt early, but can Chad Brown turn an allowance horse into a mega champion? This is one tough field to try and get that done.
# 6 Tom’s D’Etat… Yes, he’s consistent, reliable and comes from a solid barn. I would consider him ambitiously placed in this field. He has won 4 straight and is unbeaten at this distance, but he would need his career best to shock the world in this spot.
# 1 Bravazo…. Believe it or not, his last 2 speed figures are his best ( 102 & 100) and he comes into the race with some steady January breezes. He’s making his Gulfstream Park debut and has never won at the distance of 9 panels. He’s a gutty colt who has found some nice paychecks, but he’ll really need to turn it up to another level here. Saez and Lucas will give it another try….
# 2 Something Awesome a Grade 2 winner who is well suited by the distance ( 2 for 2) but has only 2 races since May. He has a nice closing punch, and has proven to have a nose for the wire ( 9 for 26) but clearly he’s facing tougher colts in this spot. Winning in this spot would be a shocker. I have to pass on him.
# 7 True Timber… Comes off his career best in the Cigar Mile, making a 6 wide move when falling just short of the wire. I’m feeling that race took something out of him. Bravo up for Kiaran Mclaughlin whom I greatly respect, but feel collectively they are up against it today.
# 9 Kukulkan... Are you kidding me? 14 for 14 from Mexico City and 4 for 4 at the distance to boot. Is it possible? C’Mon man, he can’t go 15 for 15 and beat these colts? Can He? ( I’m smiling) I wouldn’t bet on it, but who knows? He did win his Gulfstream Park debut last month in a slow race against much lesser company. International riding star Frankie Dettori is scheduled to come in to ride. The owner is on Forbes richest people in the world list, I’m sure he bought Frankie a first class ticket……
# 11 Imperative….Nice guy Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle for Anthony Quartarolo. He’s 0 for 6 in 2018. Yikes, not much to endorse here. The numbers just don’t add up. I think he may scratch, or maybe should, let’s just call it an “Imperative” throw out….
Well there you have it. It’s a great racing card on Saturday. I feel this race has a world of possibility of making money on the day. Please consider all I have shared so you can make an informed window decision for yourself.