2020 Pegasus World Cup Picks, Bets and Exotics Preview: Where to Find Value at Gulfstream Park
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: The field breaks from the gate at the start of the the Pegasus World Cup Championship in Hallandale, Florida.
All eyes in the thoroughbred horse-racing world will turn to Florida on Saturday, with the fourth annual running of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup taking place at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/8-mile-race featuring some of the world’s best horses has already had some major news hit it with the scratches of favorites Omaha Beach and Spun To Run. Omaha Beach, the even-money favorite, came up with a right hind ankle injury on Thursday and Spun To Run was scratched due to a skin infection.
The defections of Omaha Beach, a highly touted 2019 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown contender before a breathing issue led to his elimination from contention, and Spun To Run, who won last year’s Breeders Cup Dirt Mile, might have taken away two of the sport’s starts. However, it’s led to an array of solid wagering possibilities at the windows.
Coverage of the Pegasus and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf will be featured on NBC Sports, scheduled to air from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
These are my top plays for each race:
PEGASUS WORLD CUP TURF
3 – Without Parole (4-1 Odds)
The distance (1 3/16 miles) is a question for the Chad Brown contender, but I love the number on the horse tied to Justify’s breeding connections and the fact Frankie Dettori comes in from Europe to ride.
Without Parole has won a Group 1 race at Royal Ascot and ships in from overseas for the second time in his career after his third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Love this horse. Must use in all wagers.
12 – Magic Wand (7-2)
Your deserved morning-line favorite is back for the second consecutive year after finishing runner-up to Bricks and Mortar in the 2019 edition of the race.
The 5-year-old mare draws outside for trainer Aidan O’Brien, who is regarded as one of the top trainers in the world. I hate the post position and feel she will be compromised from the start, which means she will need to overcome plenty of things if she’s going from the winner’s circle.
10 – Instilled Regard (10-1)
The sleeper of the Brown barn. He gets Ortiz Jr. aboard and the connections hope he can improve off his winning effort in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale in December at Gulfstream. It’s impossible to ignore this horse and he could be poised to run the race of his life.
2 – Arklow (6-1)
Trainer Brad Cox sends out the savvy veteran, who will be making the 25th start of his career. He probably wants to go a little further, but I still think he can sit a trip close to the lead and be in the mix down the stretch.
Jockey Luis Saez is aboard and he’s consistently one of the best riders during the Gulfstream winter meeting. Add in the fact Arklow has finished in the money in five of his last six races (all graded stakes) and he has to be on your tickets.
WIN/PLACE/SHOW WAGERING: 3 – Without Parole
EXACTA: 3-12 over 2-3-6-10-12
TRIFECTA: 3-12 over 2-3-6-10-11-12 over 2-3-6-10-11-12
PEGASUS WORLD CUP
2 – Tax (8-1)
Love the way the Grade 2 winner has looked leading up to this race, lodging a couple of bullet works.
The Danny Gargan-trained contender, who won the Jim Dandy last summer at Saratoga, has consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in his last two races and has me feeling he will improve even more in the Pegasus. He is possibly the biggest benefactor of the Omaha Beach-Spun To Run departures and I’m looking for rail-running Tax and jockey Jose Ortiz to spring the upset.
6 – Higher Power (6-1)
If Tax can’t pull of the win, Higher Power is going to be the horse to do it. He won Grade 1 Pacific Classic winner in August at Del Mar before finishing third in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes and $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.
The key to trainer John Sadler’s horse will be the break. If he can get away from the gate without any trouble, expect a monster performance from him and jockey Flavien Part.
10 – Mucho Gusto (9-2)
Bob Baffert’s standout becomes the favorite with the top two contenders out of the race. However, his dismal showing in September’s Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby sent him back to the barn and left much to be desired, especially after solid efforts in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and Grade 1 Travers Stakes.
Mucho Gusto gets Irad Ortiz Jr. — the reigning and two-time Eclipse Award winner – but has not won a race since the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes in June at Del Mar. Looking elsewhere on top.
7 – War Story (30-1)
Seeking a long shot to possibly hit at a big price? This is your horse.
The gritty 8-year-old gelding, who has raced an unreal 38 times in his career, jumps into the Pegasus mix for the third time and hopes to pull off a stunner in South Florida.
He won the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday in his last outing at double-digit odds and should be on or close to the front when they turn for home. Use in exotics and sprinkle a little across the board.
WIN/PLACE/SHOW WAGERING: 2 – Tax (12-1)
EXACTA: 2-6 over 2-3-6-7-10
TRIFECTA: 2-6 over 2-3-6-7-10 over 2-3-6-7-10