Green is the colour at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, when millions of dollars are up for grabs at the stakes-heavy Pegasus extravaganza. Cyberknife, Proxy, Skippylongstocking and Defunded chase a cool $3m in the centrepiece G1 Pegasus World Cup 2023, while there is less quality on display in the $1m G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf but a fascinating contest in store, with City Man, Lady Speightspeare and Ivar in opposition in the day’s second feature.
Pegasus World Cup Invitational
G1, $3,000,000, 1m 1f dirt, 4yo+, 5.40pm ET
The first big-money race of the year takes center stage at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, a Pegasus World Cup that unlike other years lacks a stand-out superstar but instead brings together a hugely competitive field of heavyweight contenders.
This is the valedictory appearance for morning-line favorite Cyberknife (5-2), who excels at a mile-eighth with victories in the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the G1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park as convincing evidence.
He was just outkicked by Cody’s Wish when runner-up, beaten a head, in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland and will be more effective stretching back out, but although he brings a stack of class to the table he has been done no favors by drawing post ten, with a short run to the first turn.
The inside post hasn’t hurt the chance of Proxy (9-2), who finally made his stakes breakthrough after a string of near misses in the G1 Clark Stakes over a mile-eighth at Churchill Downs, pressing the pace and getting up late for a narrow success, with Last Samurai (20-1) beaten seven lengths into fourth.
That wasn’t the strongest G1 in the calendar and this demands more, but now that Proxy has hit his groove there may be an improvement in store.
Local trainer Saffie Joseph comes with a triple threat headed by the progressive Skippylongstocking (5-1), who nailed the main prep for this when pressing the pace and easing clear to win the G3 Harlan’s Holiday here over a mile-sixteenth on New Year’s Eve, with track specialist Simplification (15-1) third, beaten two and a quarter lengths, and fellow Joseph trainee O’Connor (10-1) another two lengths back in fourth after losing a shoe.
O’Connor is expected to do better, although he’s hung out wide at the gate, and Simplification will always be a danger at a track where he has gained all his three wins, but along with Joseph’s third runner White Abarrio (10-1) – another local hero, unbeaten in four here, including the G1 Florida Derby – all this quartet are much of a muchness and will need a clear career-best to get this job done.
The best of the California shippers is plainly Defunded (6-1), at his peak right now after a gate-to-wire score in the mile-eighth G1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park and easy pickings in the G3 Native Diver at Del Mar. This distance brings out the best in him, which isn’t the case for G1 Cigar Mile runner-up Get Her Number (15-1), who works the sprint beat back west and could come up empty in the closing stages.
The pace in a race full of pressers and stalkers may come from Art Collector (10-1), who led all the way in the 2021 G1 Woodward at Belmont Park and did likewise when romping in the mile-eighth G2 Charles Town Classic two starts ago, but this is deeper water and he may not have the stickability to see it through.
Pegasus World Cup 2023 Odds & Betting Pick
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Ridin With Biden||Emisael Jaramillo||+5000|
|White Abarrio||Tyler Gaffalione||+1000|
|Defunded||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+450|
|Art Collector||Junior Alvarado||+1200|
|Skippylongstocking||Jose L. Ortiz||+600|
|Get Her Number||Luis Saez||+1500|
|Last Samurai||Lanfranco Dettori||+2500|
|Stilleto Boy||Mike E. Smith||+3500|
|O’Connor (CHI)||Javier Castellano||+1500|
|Hoist the Gold||Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.||+6500|
|Endorsed||Julien R. Leparoux||+7500|
Pegasus World Cup 2023 Betting Pick
An open race but class should prevail. Defunded will be a threat but CYBERKNIFE owns solid G1 form, relishes this distance, and can sign off a fine career in style.
Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational
G1, $1,000,000, 1m 1f turf, 4yo+, 4.40pm ET
The retirement of dual winner Colonel Liam has robbed the Pegasus World Cup Turf of a lot of its sparkle, but what remains is an incredibly wide-open contest just ripe for the taking if someone can step over the obstacles of class, distance, and post-position.
The recent form may be crucial, so City Man (4-1) has a distinct edge after taking the recognized prep. He has won four of his last five and posted a career-best last time when finishing his race off well to win the G2 Ft. Lauderdale over course and distance, beating longshot barn mate Decorated Invader (15-1) by a length and a half while spotting him 5lb, with the rallying Good Governance (15-1) dead-heating for fourth at boxcar odds, a half-length further back, also in receipt of 5lb.
At level weights, and with the likelihood of continued progression, City Man can confirm these placings. His outside post is a concern, however.
Morning-line choice Ivar (5-2) has distance issues to overcome. His best form has all been at a mile, third and fourth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile and runner-up in the G1 Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland, when Atone (12-1) – who was fourth in this 12 months ago and, almost unbelievably, has never even won a stakes race – was a well-beaten eighth. Ivar has won at a mile-sixteenth in a minor company but steps into the unknown at this level.
The open nature of this race is made plain by the fact that Lady Speightspeare (6-1) is third-choice, although she has never won away from the easier pickings at Woodbine. She excelled herself when a longshot third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland but still has a great deal to prove, although not as much as fellow Toronto favorite Who’s The Star (20-1), unbeaten in five at Woodbine but two-for-12 elsewhere.
Graham Motion puts two in the gate, headed by Speaking Scout (8-1), who ran a career-best when getting up late to win the mile-eighth G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar, pushing a rallying Wit (8-1) into third by a length. Both horses may appeal to exotics players, but Motion’s second-string Hurricane Dream (15-1) is a relatively unknown quantity on his Stateside debut.
He was G2-placed at a mile and G3-placed at ten furlongs in France last year, so the distance should suit, but all his best form has been gained on a soft surface.
Pegasus World Cup Turf Odds
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Wit||Jose L. Ortiz||+1000|
|Good Governance (GB)||Shaun Bridgmohan||+2500|
|Atone||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+1000|
|Hurricane Dream (FR)||Lanfranco Dettori||+1300|
|One More Bid||Mike E. Smith||+2500|
|Lady Speightspeare||Luis Saez||+500|
|Speaking Scout||Paco Lopez||+700|
|Who’s the Star||Emma-Jayne Wilson||+2000|
|Decorated Invader||Junior Alvarado||+1300|
|Ivar (BRZ)||Javier Castellano||+200|
|Master Piece (CHI)||Tyler Gaffalione||+850|
|City Man||Joel Rosario||+325|
|King Cause||Florent Geroux||+5000|
|Steady On||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+6000|
Pegasus World Cup Turf Betting Prediction
An upset is very possible given the openness of the race, but CITY MAN is firmly on the upgrade and his course-and-distance G2 victory gives him an extra edge.
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