The inaugural running of the Grade I Pegasus World Cup in 2017 was billed as a match race between the 1-2 finishers in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic – Arrogate and California Chrome. It proved to be no contest, as Arrogate dominated the $12 million race while setting a track record in the process.
In 2018, the Pegasus World Cup purse was boosted to $16 million and proved to be a coronation for 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner.
This year’s $9 million Pegasus World Cup will be run on Saturday and once again the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic champion is the one to beat. Accelerate was winning his fifth Grade I race of 2018 in the Classic.
The race is far from a walkover, though, as 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner City of Light, who handed Accelerate his only loss last year in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap, will make his final career start before heading off to stud in the Pegasus World Cup.
Here is a look at the field:
Bravazo (12/1) – Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, he dances all the dances but hasn’t won in nearly a year. Has a chance to impact the Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, and Super High Five.
Something Awesome (20/1) – Has never faced the quality of competition he faces in this spot. Biggest plus is that he is perfect two-for-two at today’s 1-1/8 mile trip.
City of Light (5/2) – Breeders Cup Mile winner beat Accelerate at this trip in last year’s Oaklawn Handicap. He has speed and draws a very good post. A major contender.
Seeking the Soul (12/1) – He was a no threat fifth in this race last year and has done his best work on tracks in Kentucky. On his best day he can grab a share.
Accelerate (9/5) – Horse of the Year finalist (winner was to be announced Thursday evening) won five Grade I races last year including Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has trained well in California for this, but trainer John Sadler’s long term record shipping horses out of state is poor.
Toms d’Etat (20/1) – Tough spot to try Graded Stakes company for the first time, but he has looked very good winning two starts off a layoff by daylight.
True Timber (30/1) – Has done his best work to date around one turn. Should be forwardly placed but stamina is a question mark.
Gunnevera (8/1) – Overachiever finds ways to cash good checks in big races. He likes Gulfstream Park and will be rolling late. A must use in all exotic wagers.
Kukulkan (30/1) – Mexican Triple Crown winner earned a lowly 70 Beyer Speed Figure winning the Classico Del Caribe at Gulfstream in December. This is a huge class jump.
Audible (10/1) – Won the 2018 Florida Derby over this course and distance. Disappointed in prep for this December 15 and will need some luck from bad post.
Imperative (30/1) – A late addition to this race who has done his best work at Charles Town. He may be overmatched.
Patternofrecognition (10/1) – He is quick but will have to use that speed to flee extreme outside post. This is his first start around two turns.
From a wagering perspective, I like City of Light to come back and beat Accelerate in the Pegasus World Cup. Gunnevera, Audible, Tom’s d’Etat, Bravazo, and Seeking the Soul should all be used with Accelerate underneath the top choice to complete the exotic wagers.
For those in Las Vegas, you can get the very latest updates as well as wagering suggestions on the entire Pegasus World Cup card at Gulfstream Park in a free seminar at 6 p.m. Friday at the Rampart Casino in Summerlin with syndicated handicapper Bob Ike.
When is Post Time Not Post Time?
Gulfstream Park has been infamous for not starting races at post time. Apparently, this “post time drag” will now be employed at sister track Santa Anita.
P. J. Campo, the Vice President of Racing at The Stronach Group (owners of both Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita) told John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times that “the horses are on the track the same amount of time. They leave the paddock at the same time (it’s just the clock says fewer minutes). It’s just a fact that people like to bet closer to post time.”
It remains to be seen if this experiment will generate additional handle.
The best way to track the results will be to keep an eye on the toteboard odds when the horses are loading into the gate and checking again after the odds have recycled for the final time.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday Race 8 – Mr Paytience (No. 2). Comebacker from the Doug O’Neill stable showed plenty of ability last summer and is well spotted for successful comeback run.
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