Post Draw Not Kind For Big Names In Pegasus World Cup

Pegasus World Cup (Grade 1)- $500.000 Purse
GP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
January 25, 2020

This Saturday, the biggest race on the calendar for the month of January in terms of its overall prestige occurs as the fourth edition of the Pegasus World Cup takes place. Unfortunately, the game still insists on running this like the Donn Handicap in regards to its purse. I’m surprised that the trainers who are good enough to consistently run in races like this do not put more pressure on the game to offer a more appropriate and lifelike purse. It’s not the $12 million that it was in 2017, and we see it continue to drop, but at a $3 million level right now, shouldn’t this be more then $500.000 here? At the time, the game said they would take a wait and see approach with the Pegasus World Cup in how they would handle it, and I think that now we have a general idea of how the race is going to be run. The game will increase or decrease the purses of other stakes as they happen in the real world, so that should happen with the Pegasus World Cup as well. The smaller then it should purse has not stopped some of the great older horses from be entered into this field, though a couple of them did not do well in the post draw. Let’s look at this star studded field!

#1- Marx On The Moon (Court Jester Racing, ridden by M E Smith)- His biggest wins of his three year old season came in long sprints, highlighted by Grade 3 Bay Shore last April. The trainer has been trying to get him to run longer, and it has started to work out even though he is still winless at races a mile or longer. Most recently, we saw him nearly get that win, but he would finish second at the Cigar Handicap, beaten by Splash Mountain. He’ll get his chance for revenge here, and have a big advantage over him in regards to post.

#2- Achilles (Diablo Diablo, ridden by T C Baze)- Last year was an inconsistent season for Achilles, but when he was running at his best, he rolled off three wins, highlighted by JC Gold Cup in September. Problem is, when he is off, he is no where to be found near the leaders, and has some depressing race lines recently, too. He has the ability, but that inconsistency makes him hard to support as an outsider. If you think he’s ready to run big then bet accordingly.

#3- Unfold (Fractious, ridden by R M Hernandez)- A month after he ran fifth in the PA Derby, former trainer Mb Stables sold him to Fractious in private sales for $300.000. It’s not often that you will see Mb Stables let a good one like this get away, but a couple weeks after the sale, Unfold debuted for Fractious in the BC Dirt Mile, and came from off the pace to get the win. Overall, he won four times last year, and that also includes the Grade 2 Dandy. This is the first race for him since the BC, and he’ll have his regular rider back as well.

#4- For The Boys (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J Bravo)- After a busy 13-race season resulted in two victories, For The Boys will be hoping to visit the winners circle more often this year. However, that will require a reversal of recent form, since his last two starts have seen him finish mid-pack. He was at his best in a stretch from May to October, that almost saw him win the Travers. The key may be a better start out of the gate, as his last two races has seen him start poorly, something that wasn’t an issue when he was running well.

#5- Gunpowder Choice (Night Rider Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- This one does not have the experience as many others in this field, but that does not mean we should be quick to write him off. He’s spent a lot of time running north of the border in ON-bred races, and won the $100.000 Sir Barton in his last start. It’s a tough assignment, but I do like that he is usually near the front at the end.

#6- Charlemagnes Command (Serenity Stables, ridden by L Contreras)- We’ll be seeing this one run in new silks for the first time, as he was acquired by Serenity a couple days after Christmas in private sales for $200.000. At times during 2019, he showed promise, but as of right now his signature victory is the Grade 3 LA Derby at LA in July. He is working quite well, so Serenity must be optimistic that he will get some great results as a four year old this year.

#7- Tactical (Mb Stables, ridden by A Beschizza)- This is a horse that probably has not been given the kind of attention that he really deserves, especially after culminating a strong three year old season with a runner up performance in the BC Classic. Leading up to that, he had been either first or second all year once he broken his maiden. His biggest win last year was the Grade 1 Woodward. In the Pegasus, he will return to the track for the first time since BC day, and with some recent bullets in workouts, he’s ready to roll. Much to like about him in this field especially with two other top threats starting from the outside.

#8- Eclipse My Knowledge (Nakamura Stables, ridden by R Santana Jr)- Enters this race on a three race winning streak, with the most recent triumph being the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at CD. Overall for the year, he was part of the exacta in six of eight races, winning half. He has not always gone up against rivals of this caliber, though when he has, we’ve been able to see him step up. This may be the toughest field he has ever been in, and it will interesting to see how he fares.

#9- Hindenburg Tour (Nakamura Stables, ridden by T Gaffalione)- Like his stablemate, Hindenburg Tour is coming into the Pegasus on a winning streak, and will look to make it three in a row. While there were graded stakes at times early in his career, it would not be a stretch to say that those two wins were the beginning of his becoming a regular in this type of field. He’s worked well and has earned this chance, so it would not surprise me in the slightest if he pulled off what would be considered an upset here.

#10- Dauzac (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by S Ryan)- Most recently, we saw him in the Grade 1 Handicap, and he was a disappointment, finishing ninth and losing by four lengths. That is a concern for this race, because there are several in here coming out of that race who fared much better. Good news for the trainer is that, perhaps, it was just a fluke, because he had been on a great run of form leading up to it. The Pegasus World Cup is a tough assignment for a needed bounce back race. S Ryan was about the last time he won, two starts ago.

#11- Phooeys Queen Blue (Estero Farms, ridden by J Talamo)- This four year old colt ran his best last year over the course of the prep race season, so the trainer will be hoping that he just likes to race this particular time of year. Despite not winning since the FL Derby, Phooeys Queen Blue has been agonizingly close in pretty much every other race he has been in, and Estero does have a few fourth place purses to show for it. Had a nice SRF (101) in the Malibu last month.

#12- Apples To Oranges (Mb Stables, ridden by M Franco)- One of the better performers over the three TC races last season, with a near miss in the BEL, placing second, as well as running third in the KYD. He was great in the prep races leading up to it, and remained strong afterwards, picking up a huge win in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at DMR. His last start was the BC Classic, and in it, he ran fourth. It just was not a good post draw for him and others that he’ll be seeing starting to his outside, so the biggest obstacle will be how he manages this post.

#13- Twin Towers (Smokey Stover, ridden by J R Velazquez)- In August, Smokey Stover set his sights on a horse that he wanted, and was willing to do whatever it took to get him. It would take $2,850.000 to acquire him in private sales from Fractious, a sum of money that many of us could never imagine spending on a single virtual horse. For Smokey, it wasn’t about the cost but the dream of winning the BC Classic. Two months ago, his investment paid off and Twin Towers would become a BC Champion. It’s not often in this game that these big investments accomplish their primary goal. Everything from here is just icing on the cake for Twin Towers, but we’re sure there is plenty out there left to accomplish, including winning this race right here. He did run last month in the Caribbean Classic, and that didn’t go well. But I am going to throw that out, as I expect him to be a threat here.

#14- Splash Mountain (John Henry, ridden by R Bejarano)- Finally, another great contender in this race starting on the outside. These are the types of post draws that will get some people wondering just how random these draws might really be. Splash Mountain will be forever known as the winner of the 2018 BC Classic, but after that race, he ran here in the Pegasus World Cup, and nearly went back to back in the two races. He would run second there while having a much better starting spot. Most recently, he ran in the Cigar Handicap, and took home the win. Can he overcome this post? And what about the fact that three major contenders all will have to account for their starting posts in some capacity?

Prediction: 7-13-12-8

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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