It’s a two-horse race with one major variable: pace. That’s the overview for Pegasus World Cup bets in the $3 million, 1 1/8-mile race Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.
Highly-favored Knicks Go and Life Is Good tower over the field, but their similar front-running styles allow the possibility of a speed duel that would let others contend.
Post time for the Pegasus is 5:45 p.m. ET on NBC.
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An expected field of 12 has become nine with the shortage of challengers for the reigning Breeders’ Cup champions. Knicks Go won the $6 Million Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 6 and is likely to soon gain a slew of Horse of the Year honors. Life Is Good captured the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on the same card. Now they clash.
In his farewell race, Knicks Go tries to become the first repeat winner of the six-year-old Pegasus.
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Post Positions And Morning Line Odds
1. Knicks Go (6-5)
The star of the show gets to break from the rail. The good news is that he should able to clear the horses to his immediate right.
Speed is an important ingredient. His four previous victories were wire-to-wire. His last loss came all the way back last June in the Metropolitan at Belmont Park. Knicks Go obtained a small lead in slow fractions. Usually that’s ideal. But horses came up to him and he was no match down the stretch.
It’s possible he can’t handle company on the lead. It’s also possible he didn’t like Aqueduct’s one-turn mile. A third factor is he didn’t have his usual explosive burst, period. By any account, Knicks Go is better having his way early.
2. Chess Chief (10-1)
Was a distant fifth in the six-horse field for the Lukas Stakes won by Knicks Go. Woke up to win the Tenacious Stakes at Fairgrounds in his last outing. That may account for respect from the oddsmakers.
3. Stilleto Boy (20-1)
Ran a game but not-in-the-same-zip code fifth to Knicks Go in the Breeders Cup. He also finished well behind the late Medina Spirit, Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie in that race.
Would have to make up about 10 lengths to be a match for Knicks Go. Nonetheless, must be given superfecta respect as he ran hard at the end of a race won by the world’s top horse.
4. Life Is Good (7-5).
Life is good, isn’t it? Todd Pletcher expressed satisfaction with the draw. Life Is Good should outgun the horses closest to him and try to break alertly for good positioning and an early shot at Knicks Go. Both trainers indicated that neither of the favorites can let the other shake free.
Handicapping variable is the fact he’s never gone 1 1-8 miles. The furthest is 1 1-6 miles. Bettors will have to decide whether that hand-ride victory in the Breeders Cup Mile in November indicates the stamina to handle this distance easily. Some gamblers will think he can do it. Others will consider this a significant edge for Knicks Go.
5. Empty Tomb (20-1)
Pace factor. Came up with a gritty second on the speed end in the $125,000 Queens County race at Aqueduct. From a class perspective, that’s light years away from this $3 million race. But it labels him as a possible pace disrupter for the favorites. He gets an excellent jockey in Paco Lopez, even in a race in which he should get outgunned.
6. Sir Winston (12-1)
Loves long races, and closing. He prevailed in the 1 1–2-mile Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine for leading trainer Mark Casse in December.
That was two years after his most famous race to American fans, the 2019 Belmont Stakes. He came from the back of the pack, saved ground along the rail and swung outside to triumph at 10-1 over 1 1-2 miles. His rider that day? Joel Rosario.
Now he’ll be chasing Rosario’s mount, Knicks Go. Arguably the best recent form of the underneath pack. The distance is not best suited for his late-charging style but there should be pace to run at. A live play in trifecta and superfecta considerations.
7. Title Ready (20-1).
Peaked last winter with a win in the Louisiana Stakes. Then finished 11th in the Dubai World Cup, off the board in an allowance race and sixth in the muddy Tinsel Stakes at Oaklawn. May flirt with the bottom of the superfecta, but hasn’t shown much down the lane.
8. Endorsed (20-1)
Was ticketed for the $150,000 Fred Hooper on the undercard of the Pegasus. But he became a late add to this race. Endorsed is 0-15 since his last win in 2020. He was second in the Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream in his last. Coming out of a seven-furlong race, could bother the speed horses a little.
9. Commandeer (30-1)
Made a late run from the back of the pack to prevail in allowance optional claiming at Churchill Downs in November, in the slop.
His odds reflect this monumental surge in class. Would need this race to collapse like that one and a sloppy track to make some noise.
Pegasus World Cup Bets: My Strategy
The class differential between the Breeders Cup champions and the rest of the field is severe.
The drop to nine horses means bettors may have to make a stand regarding Knicks Go and Life Is Good for the exactas. It could pay very small. Check projected payouts before betting.
Any trifecta also will be small if the favorites run in the first three spots.
Of the remaining horses, I thought Sir Winston and Stilleto Boy were moving best at the end of their recent races. Sir Winston has the back class of the Belmont victory, but isn’t in his comfort zone of 1 1-2 miles. Keep them in mind for the bottom of the superfecta or even to split the favorites in the event of a wicked duel.
Look at the $4 bets in superfecta keys to try nabbing something on the cheap. Taking Knicks Go and Life is Good in the first two spots, for instance, combined with Sir Winston and Stilleto Boy third and fourth, would cost only $4. That’s one ticket I will play.
The ticket would read $1 superfecta 1, 4, with 1,4 with 3, 6, with 3,6. Make that a $3 ticket and it only costs $12. This combo will work for any variations one makes with four horses used this way.
All of this is much cheaper than a $1 superfecta box for $24. One key betting strategy in this race is small investment on tickets.
Take at least one ticket with one of the favorites out of the top two places, in case the speed duel occurs.
Don’t be shy about tossing a bomb like Commandeer underneath in one ticket. He’s not as good as the others but has the right closing style if the race falls apart.
Good luck with your Pegasus World Cup bets. Even if betting values are hard to find, it’s a great race to watch.