The Pegasus World Cup Finally Gets Its Big Purse

The Pegasus World Cup (Grade 1)- $3,000.000 Purse
GP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
January 29, 2021

For the first time, the Pegasus World Cup will be run in the game. Yeah, I know, it’s been run before here, but 2022 will be the first time that the virtual race will actually look like its real-life counterpart, given that it will have a $3,000.000 Purse and not just be a repeat of the Donn Handicap conditions. It’s really good to see even though we always had outstanding fields in the previous editions of the race called the Pegasus World Cup. This year, the field is about as good as it could possibly be with five horses who ran in the BC Classic coming here, and bear in mind that a couple of the top finishers from the Classic have gone on to stud in the meantime. Other than them, we have five other horses in the race who ran in one of the other BC races. Last year’s winner, Space Commander, is back with top race mainstays Splash Mountain and Combat Wombat also in the field. Z Command crosses the gender barrier to run here. Excited yet? It will be a great race, let’s meet all fourteen horses!

#1- Space Commander (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J K Court)- The Strategic Command gelding started his 2021 off right by winning the Pegasus World Cup, coming two months after he had finished second in the BC Classic the year prior. As a five year old, Strategic Command ended up winning the Gold Cup and the Whitney as well, but oddly enough, each of them were a dead heat victory. Well, perhaps not an oddity here but you get the point. Strategic Command did not have as good of a BC Classic though, only finishing 11th as he never seemed to get going while dealing with the outside post.

#2- Z Command (Smokey Stover, ridden by G Saez)- This six year old mare has had a great career, winning twelve of her 34 career starts and she is a BC Distaff champion, capturing that race in 2019. Every year of her racing career has seen her run in a BC race, and the trainer wants to keep that rolling. It will not be the first time that Z Command has run against males, with her first try coming last summer in the Grade 1 Whitney. That would not be a good race for her, and her second try was not any better. If at first you don’t succeed, try again? And again?

#3- Howl Of The Hound (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- As a four year old, Howl Of The Hound enters the next stage of his career where the spotlight will not be on him quite as much. May this gelding go on to have the type of long and extended career like Splash Mountain or Combat Wombat? The first would be quite an accomplishment, of course, but for a horse that ended up winning two TC races you have to think right now that anything is possible. He hasn’t won since the PRK, but he continues to run well and consistently, and just missed a check in the BC Classic last year, finishing fifth. This will be his first race since then, let’s hope that he can continue to be one of the top horses in the game.

#4- Splash Mountain (John Henry, ridden by S R Bahen)- Here’s a horse that keeps on ticking and succeeding. We’ll no longer have the classic Splash Mountain and Tactical rivalry since the latter retired, but 2022 could be a year where Splash Mountain eclipses $10,000.000 in career earnings. He is just a little bit shy of nine thousand right now. It’ll be his first race since a fantastic close in the BC Classic to get up for third. He’s hit the board in each of his last six races, all against top competition. No reason to think that he can’t hit 10K this year, and that can start right here.

#5- Dutty John Crow (Night Rider Stables, ridden by J C Ferrer)- This gelding did not quite get rolling soon enough to be a threat in the TC series, though did get to run in the BEL, where he was seventh. It was the CT Classic in late August where he started to hit his best form and after winning the OK Derby, he would run in the BC Dirt Mile, and was third in the race. That would not be his last race of the year, though, as he closed it out by winning the Malibu. In this field, he’s not the first name that will grab your attention, but he is plenty capable.

#6- Just Wanna Blaze (Gdp Inc., ridden by M J Sanchez)- Last November, Just Wanna Blaze ran in the BC Dirt Mile, and finished second and missed victory by half a length. It highlighted a three year old season that saw him win three times in his twelve starts, with the OH Derby actually being his only graded win. After the BC, Just Wanna Blaze dropped down into an optional claimer to finish out the year. Ran second five times, with many of them being within a length of victory.

#7- Gran Z (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by R M Hernandez)- Only fitting that the gelding would start from post 7, with 28 career starts, 7 wins, 7 places, 7 shows (and 7 others) in his career thus far. What that means if you are superstitious is up for debate, but the trainer will hope that it does not mean a seventh place finish. He’s run in the BC Classic the last two years, finishing third in 2020, and seventh (what else?) in the 2021 race. Finished the year by winning the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes.

#8- Fashionable (Mb Stables, ridden by Mar Garcia)- One of the few horses in the field that did not run in the BC last year, but that won’t make her any less capable. That’s right, Z Command isn’t alone in taking on the boys in the race. She won three times last year, highlighted by the Grade 2 DEL Handicap, but after that she went on a little bit of a funk after that, which were all tries on the grass. Successfully returned to the main track by going wire to wire in the ten furlong Grade 3 Maple Leaf Stakes, giving her two consecutive wins in that race.

#9- Freddo Cappuccino (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by J Talamo)- Still a lightly raced horse as he enters his four year old season with just seven starts for his career. Made a big splash in his debut for Mo Mentum Farm, winning the Queens Plate after the trainer picked him up in private sales for $400.000. Six weeks later, he followed that up nicely by running second in the Grade 1 Awesome Again, but we have not seen him in a graded stake since then. It’s going to be exciting to see what he does with a likely full year of racing in store.

#10- Charleys Latte (John Henry, ridden by D E Centeno)- The second of two entries in the field for John Henry, and when combined they have accumulated $14,000.000 in career earnings. Charleys Latte has appeared in the last two BC Classics, and has finished both first and last in those races. Two months ago, he struggled in the BC Classic, and had a chance to redeem himself three weeks later. Unfortunately, in the Clark Handicap, he finished at the back of the pack again. With a little bit of rest, now, John Henry will be hoping he bounces back now.

#11- Combat Wombat (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by D Cohen)- Another horse that seems like he has been around forever, and the runner up in the 2018 BC Classic begins his seven year old season here. I was actually surprised in looking back at his history that he had not run in the BC since that year. That doesn’t mean he has not been productive, as he won three times last year though only one was one of the stakes that he ran in.

#12- Toxic Personality (Arindel, ridden by R Gutierrez)- In his 44th career start, the now eight year old gelding picked up the biggest win of his career by capturing the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at CD. Prior trainer Patterson Stables decided he would sell him off of that result, and two weeks later, Arindel would pay $150.000 for his services. For a horse that three times over his career, albeit much earlier, was claimed for an amount under $10.000, that was a great pick up. Now, will Toxic Personality be able to build off of that race by knocking off elite horses? It’s a tough assignment but he has earned it.

#13- Night Creature (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J Lezcano)- Last summer, this gelding was second in the Forego, a result that would get him into the BC Sprint. He did well there, making a late move to get up for fourth and this will be his first race since then. He has not exclusively been a sprinter, and in fact, has run over a mile for the vast majority of his career. His best victory going long came in mid-February last year in the $600.000 Grade 3 Razorback Handicap but has not been able to win a race since. Seems to be a little inconsistent at times during his career.

#14- Expert Eye (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J Stein)- Lastly, we have our second horse in the field that ran in the BC Sprint last year, so the post draw did not do either of them any favors. Unlike NIght Creature, Expert Eye was a sprinter for most of the 2021 season, and his biggest result was the Grade 1 Crosby, which he won. That played a big part in getting him to the BC Sprint, where he would run third. The trainer has not kept him on that path, though, and he would run and win the Grade 3 Harlan in December, which is over a mile. But this isn’t the Harlan. Can he handle a big time field going long, and starting from out here? It’s a tough task.

Prediction: 4-7-9-3

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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