Knicks Go strolls to another easy win in the Pegasus World Cup

January 23, 2021

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 2021 racing season started the same way last year ended for Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) unleashed another display of sheer brilliance and class to capture the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1).

The Pegasus, a 1 1/8-mile event for 4-year-olds and up, and the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) co-headlined a 12 -race program that also included five other graded stakes.

Brad Cox-trained Knicks Go, who set a Keeneland track record with a front-running performance in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, showed his heels to his 11 rivals while capturing the 5th running of the Pegasus by 2 ¾ lengths.

“He is one of the top handicap horses in the country now. He’s a top horse. This is what you get up for every day, seven days a week, long days for moments like this,” Cox said. “I’m very proud of the horse and my team and thank the Korea Racing Authority for the opportunity with this horse.”

Knicks Go broke alertly to round the first turn on top to show the way along the backstretch while pressed briefly by Last Judgment and stalked by Tax. After setting fractions of 22.90 and 46.16 seconds for the first half mile, Knicks Go maintained complete control under a motionless Joel Rosario on the far turn and on the turn into the homestretch. Under just mild encouragement from Rosario, the 5-year-old son of Paynter offered a powerful kick at the top of the stretch and drew clear under wraps.

“He’s a very special horse. He just goes faster and faster,” Rosario said. “He was really enjoying what he was doing out there, so I was never worried about somebody getting close to me.”

Jesus’ Team, who finished second behind Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, settled behind the pace in fifth along the backstretch before making a wide move into the stretch and closing steadily in to finish second under Irad Ortiz Jr.  Independence Hall saved ground in fourth before making a bid in the stretch, falling just a neck short of holding off Jesus’s Team.

Knicks Go was timed in 1:47.89 while carrying his brilliant speed over 1 1/8 miles.

“I felt comfortable. Joel had a hold on him. He had a little pressure on the outside, but he was fresh from the Breeders’ Cup, so I was confident he would stay on,” Cox said.

Knicks Go, a Grade 1 winner at 2, was winless in eight starts in 2019 before being transferred to Cox for the 2020 season. The Maryland-bred speedster won all three starts last year by a combined 21 ½ lengths, all in front-running fashion.

“It’s a very prestigious race. I know it hasn’t been around that long, but when you look at past winners, it’s a very prestigious list of horses that have won it – world champions, actually, with Gun Runner and Arrogate,” Cox said. “They weren’t just national horses. They competed and won on the world stage, so it’s a big race.”

Pegasus World Cup Quotes

Winning trainer Brad Cox (Knicks Go): “He is one of the top handicap horses in the country now. He’s a top horse. This is what you get up for every day, seven days a week, long days for moments like this. I’m very proud of the horse and my team and thank the Korea Racing Authority for the opportunity with this horse.”

“I felt comfortable. Joel had a hold on him. He had a little pressure on the outside, but he was fresh from the Breeders’ Cup, so I was confident he would stay on.”       

“It’s a very prestigious race. I know it hasn’t been around that long, but when you look at past winners, it’s a very prestigious list of horses that have won it – world champions, actually, with Gun Runner and Arrogate,” Cox said. “They weren’t just national horses. They competed and won on the world stage, so it’s a big race.”

Winning Joel Rosario (Knicks Go): ““He’s a very special horse. He just goes faster and faster…He was really enjoying what he was doing out there, so I was never worried about somebody getting close to me.”

Trainer Jose D’Angelo (Jesus’ Team, 2nd): “I am very proud of Jesus, he’s a great horse. Today, he didn’t have the luck to win, because Knicks Go ran again along in front. I am very soon that Jesus will be on the top in big races. I feel proud of him.”

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Jesus’ Team, 2nd): “I got a good trip. The horse put me in a nice position. I just waited for my time to go and he responded when I asked. At the 3/8-pole, he started picking it up real good, but the winner was much the best.

Trainer Michael McCarthy (Independence Hall, 3rd): “It was a huge race. I thought he got a fantastic trip. It looked like he was loaded all the way up the backside. Around the turn, obviously coming off a bad race, I was wondering and hoping he had a little bit left, and he was game. To get beat what, a head, for second, he ran huge. He ran hard today. I thought Flavien [Prat] gave him a great ride.  The horse has had a tough couple of days here schooling and stuff, he’s challenging at times, but it was all worth it today.”

Jockey Flavien Prat (Independence Hall, 3rd)
: “It went well. He broke well and put me in the race without asking him for anything. I was travelling well. To be honest with you, at the quarter pole I though I was going to make a move on Knicks Go but he was too good.”

Gulfstream Park Press Release

Gulfstream Park Photo: Derbe Glass, Coglianese Photos

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