Pegasus field a strong one

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The $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational will be run for the fifth time Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Previous winners Arrogate (2017), Gun Runner (2018), City of Light (2019) and Mucho Gusto (2020) have already esoakltablished the Pegasus as one of the premiere races for older horses each year. Another full field of top horses is expected when entries are drawn Wednesday.

The 2021 edition won’t lack for early pace with Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Knicks Go in the lineup. Trained by Brad Cox, Knicks Go comes off three straight wire-to-wire wins, but he has never raced as far as the 1-1/8-mile Pegasus and his last two wins came over his favorite Keeneland main track. Could he regress Saturday? Possibly.

Independence Hall failed to fire in the seven-furlong Malibu at Santa Anita, but he has plenty of tactical speed and can keep Knicks Go honest. Independence Hall may have distance limitations, so the Pegasus could be a good spot to take a shot at a price.

Sleepy Eyes Todd is proven at the distance, and comes off two excellent sprint victories, most recently in the Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream in December. His versatile running style gives jockey Jose Ortiz plenty of options and his eight-for-15 lifetime record shows he knows how to win. If he draws well (outside posts 9-12 can be considered a negative), he can post the upset.

Tax was eliminated at the start of the 2020 Pegasus, but returned from a seven-month layoff to post an impressive win in the Harlan’s Holiday in December. That victory should serve as a perfect prep for a try at redemption.

If the race falls apart late, Code of Honor figures to be making the last run. The Shug McGaughey- trained runner won just once in 2020, but he is another proven at Gulfstream and has been pointing to this race since his runner-up effort in the Cigar Mile in November.

Long shot in Pegasus Turf?

When it comes to Stakes races on turf, trainer Chad Brown is usually a good place to start, though his well-meant runners do not offer much wagering value. However, there may be an exception in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup Invitational Turf.

Greyes Creek, trained by Brown, appeared to be developing into a top grass performer when he hit the sidelines last summer. He returned from a five-month layoff to beat an Allowance field in deceptively easy fashion in December, and since he has yet to face Stakes competition, he may actually get overlooked a bit in the Pegasus Turf.

Colonel Liam won the Tropical Park Derby impressively Dec. 26, has plenty of room to keep improving, and may be the one to fear most. Keep an eye on Say the Word, too. Trainer Phil D’Amato is on a roll with horses he recently acquired at Woodbine.

Oaklawn opens Friday

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, known for excellent winter dirt racing and big purses, opens Friday and runs through May 1. Horseplayers familiar with California racing will recognize the names of trainers John Sadler, Peter Miller, and Phil D’Amato. All have set up satellite stables at Oaklawn again this year.

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned from The Stronach Group (TSG) tracks in the spring of 2019 when a rash of catastrophic injuries (including several Hollendorfer-trained horses) forced Santa Anita to shut down, study their track surfaces, and implement new safety protocols. Hollendorfer will also be busy at Oaklawn and has a new client. His name? Frank Stronach.

Oaklawn has added an early $.50 Pick Five on races 1-5 to a wagering menu that includes an early and late $.50 Pick Four and a late $.50 Pick Five on the last five races.

Unfortunately for Nevada horseplayers, Oaklawn has agreed to let Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) negotiate the simulcast rates for their signal. Churchill Downs is currently at an impasse with the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association regarding signal fees for CDI tracks Turfway Park, Fair Grounds Arlington Park and Churchill Downs, which means those signals are currently blacked out in Nevada. That does not bode well for an agreement being completed for Oaklawn’s signal prior to opening day.

Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday, Race 5: Chevelita (No. 2). Recent claim by trainer Bob Hess Jr. has looked like a router all along. With two sprint preps under her belt, she stretches out, draws a good inside post, and catches a soft field. A possible single in the early and late Pick Fives.

About the Author

Jon Lindo

Jon Lindo is a syndicated handicapper, long-time thoroughbred owner, and publisher of the Lindo Report. Jon is also a regular contributor to Race Day Las Vegas Radio show on KSHP 1400 in Las Vegas and Thoroughbred Los Angeles Radio show, heard in Las Vegas at thoroughbredla.com.

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