Pegasus World Cup Handicapping Selections
We've handicapped the entire Pegasus World Cup card with ten of our savviest LBBS Partners. They're thoughts and recommended tickets ($40-50 budget) are below. Have a read and play along. We also created a LBBS Partner Pool, which has given us plenty of action for the day. You can see the tickets we played below the LBBS handicapping section.
Race 1: Allowance Optional Claiming $25,000 (turf)
Handicapper: Rob H.
They didn’t make it easy to start Pegasus day, as we have a wide open MSW going 1M on the grass to start the afternoon. There doesn’t seem to be an abundance of early speed in here, with the likely pacesetter to come from the group of #1 Gunesh, #3 Watch It, or #6 You Look Cold, but there is not one definitive speed ball. #3 Watch It makes a ton of sense as she debuted on the tapeta track last February with an 84 beyer to start her career. Pletcher then ran her back a month later and she disappointed on that day as the favorite. Something clearly went wrong that day as she was off for 8 months before making her return on the tapeta at GP and won impressively in December. The switch to the turf should be no issue with Galileo on the dam side, she has tactical speed and should work out the ideal trip. #7 Siempre Elegante has been a different horse off the layoff and off the trainer switch to Saffie Joseph Jr. I will give the expensive daughter of American Pharoah one more shot on the turf with Dettori aboard at 12-1 ML. Finally, for a price look, I want to try and get #12 Qualy into the exacta. This one makes the return off the nearly year layoff for a new trainer in Saffie Joseph Jr, a move that Joseph excels at (near 30% strike rate). By Quality Road and out of a Rahy mare, this one should appreciate the stretch out to a mile, and the switch back to the grass, in which she was 2nd by a neck debuting at Laurel in September of 2021. Shes clearly had some issues and will need to work out a trip from the 12 hole, but there is a bit to like at a big price of 20-1
How To Play It: $40 Total
$10W- #7 Siempre Elegante
$5 Exacta Key Box 3//4,7,12
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight
Handicapper: Brian R.
#7 One Fast Dream is our top choice in here. He gets back to the dirt, which looks like his preferred surface. They gave him a try on grass, had a troubled trip, but Rosario sticks with a trainer who he normally doesn't ride for all that much. He came back with a Casse-like work on Jan 21st and think he's ready to prove himself in this one. #6 Foxburg has some nice works for a trainer who doesn't typically fire bullets. He gets lasix and looks like a runner. I suspect he will be on or close to the lead and note Luis Saez riding for Bill Mott. Our third choice is the #8 Bourbon Resolve. He's had two decent works after a troubled trip in his first start. He also gets lasix, and draws to the outside. He should stalk and hopefully stay clear of trouble. It's good to see Tyler Gaffalione back with the mount. He will make it into the exotics.
How To Play It: $46 Total
$20 Win on #7
$10 Exacta box 6-7
$1 tri box 6-7-8
Race 3: Allowance Optional Claiming $62,500 (turf)
Handicapper: Rob V.
A race where I generally gravitate to trainers who might specialize in races of this distance. Mike Maker is the first person who comes to mind. #11 Onenightstandards seems to one that if you throw out the last couple efforts on dirt and synthetic, he looks much more appetizing as a win candidate. In race littered with question marks including the favorite #1 Corelli who hasn’t raced since the end of 2021, let’s take a stand with Onenightstandards.
How To Play It: $40 Total
$20 win 11
$5 exacta 11 with 126.96.36.199
Race 4: Handicap – Fillies & Mares – 1 Mile & 70 yds. on the tapeta
Handicapper: Jess T.
The morning line favorite here is #3 Cafe Society, who finished second last time in her first race off a three-month layoff. This race will be a bit tougher than that spot, but she should be better prepared. It was her third consecutive runner-up effort, and while she proved she can handle a synthetic surface in her previous two starts at Presque Isle Downs - including a second-place finish at 24-1 in the G2 Presque Isle Masters, - I think the horse to beat is the highweight #6 Keeper of Time. This mare won what was essentially last year's edition of this race in her only try on the tapeta. In her most recent race, she was beaten over five lengths finishing fifth in the G3 Suwanee River Stakes, but I expect her to be tactically placed behind what looks to be a pace duel between two longshots. Another horse that should get a dream trip, likely sitting in third, is #1 Kahiko. She was a non-factor in the Suwanee River after encountering trouble into the first turn. Prior to that, she won an OC $62k going 7 1/2 on the turf at Gulfstream. She also has a victory over this trip and surface in October of 2021, and finished second in a similar spot on September 25th of last year. She should be ready to go in her third race off the layoff, and will likely be the first to inherit the lead once the pacesetters tire. If the pace is too hot, look for #2 Love Her Lots to potentially get into the exacta or trifecta. She's a specialist at this distance and surface, with three victories from seven starts and only one off-the-board finish in a stakes here last November. Trainer Ronald Spatz wins at 30% second off the layoff, and as a newly turned four-year-old it's possible we haven't seen the best of her yet.
How To Play It: $44 Total
$20 win - #6 Keeper of Time
$2 Exacta Box - 1, 2, 3, 6 ($24)
Race 5: Allowance Optional Claiming $25,000 (turf)
Handicapper: Rob H.
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of early speed in this race, which is rather surprising at this kind of level going a mile on the grass. #11 Journeyman is going to take a lot of money here off the neck loss going the mile last time and the big trainer upgrade to Saffie Joseph Jr for Michael Iavarone of Big Brown fame. With all that being said, there are a few things counting against the probable favorite in here. As a horse who will be coming off the pace, he will have to work out a good trip in a race devoid of much early speed. Additionally, on the new Gulfstream turf course, you have wanted to to be on or near the lead more often than not. Now, lets get to the horses who make a lot of sense based on what I’ve spelled out above. Coincidentally, I landed on the other Saffie Joseph charge, #4 Axthelm. He comes in off a good effort on the tapeta track, drew well in the 4 hole and has enough ability to stay close enough to the pace that will likely be set by my second choice, #9 Tiz a Prince. Tiz a Prince comes in off an impressive win last time out in which he was able to set leisurely fractions and kicked away to win nicely. He is once again a major threat to take this field gate to wire based on expected race flow. Finally, I think the #13 Hoku has a bit of upside coming in from Tampa for Kelsey Danner off a debut win in which he closed off a slow pace and kicked clear to win. I like the confidence of the trainer to ship this one into deeper waters today, and while he will need to draw in off the AE list, is some nice value at 10-1 ML. If you are looking for a bomber who makes a little bit of sense to possibly get into the exacta, #12 Glider will have to get over from the tough outside post, but did show some more speed than he did previously as a three year old on the return race in December on the main track. By Quality Road and out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, he should enjoy the turf, and hopefully Geroux will use some of that speed to get some position early.
How To Play It: $40 Total
20 win- #4 Axthelm
$2 Exacta Box- 4,9,12,13
Race 6: La Prevoyante Stakes (turf)
Handicapper: Joe T
It will be interesting to see how this race unfolds early on. The #4 Beside Herself has some early speed, and with Luis Saez aboard you have to imagine they’ll be fairly aggressive early. The likely favorite, #5 Adventuring, also wants the front. With Rosario aboard, it’s hard to say how aggressive they’ll be early, which could leave Beside Herself a bit loose on the lead. There might be some distance limitations with Beside Herself, but she is certainly the most experienced at the distance. We’re making her top pick in here with the hopes of Luis getting an easy lead and this Gulfstream turf course carrying her around the track a little bit more than usual. The #6 Transient feels like the “wise guy” horse in this one. She’s run well off layoffs, and has tactical speed to benefit from a dual up front if one occurs. The #2 Personal Best should save some ground and look to make a run in the stretch. Personally, I’m not sure she really wants to go this far. We’re locking in on the #4 Beside Herself and focus on some horizontals with her.
How To Play It: $45 Total
$5 Double 4/1,2,3,7,11
$2 P3 4/1,2,3,7,11/3,7
Race 7: Handicap – 1 Mile & 70 yds. on the tapeta
Handicapper: Jess T.
The male version of race 4 looks like a fascinating race with a lot to dissect. The morning line favorite, #1 King Cause is the deserving highweight here but is cross-entered in the Pegasus World Cup Turf. If they choose to go in this spot, he can't be ignored. His last race was a disappointing effort, but he was much further back than he normally prefers and never looked particularly comfortable there. Prior to that, he won the G3 Knickerbocker Stakes, where he was able to set leisurely fractions and take the field gate-to-wire. With the likes of #5 Wolfie's Dynaghost and #6 Into the Sunrise in here, who both appear to need the lead for their best efforts and I expect to diminish one another's chances, along with the fairly quick #10 Steady On (who is also cross-entered in the Pegasus Turf), there's no chance he gets that kind of trip in here, but he's shown the ability to rate just off the pace without issue in the past. #3 Ramsey Solution deserves respect as well. While he's coming in off a four-month layoff, one of his best career efforts came two starts back over this track, surface and distance off an eleven-month layoff. Saffie Joseph Jr wins at 22% off this kind of layoff and at 27% switching from turf to synthetic, so I'm not worried about the break. A repeat of that race two back should win this time.
I think there's plenty of opportunity for value in this race, even if King Cause stays in. #2 Skyro deserves a long look off his most recent effort. That race on December 15th was very strangely run, with a very slow opening quarter in :24.08 before a horse rushed up and engaged the leader to push for a half mile time of :46.60. Skyro was perfectly willing to allow those two to burn out on the lead and won quite handily, turning away a challenge from #7 Summer Assault, who I think will be able to get the better of Skyro this time, with plenty of dedicated speed as well as tactical stalkers. Summer Assault seems to be thriving since being claimed by Michael Maker three starts back, with a win and a second over this surface and distance in his two starts for the new barn. Even prior to the claim, this is a consistent horse who always puts in his run with the exception of his race over a sloppy track at Churchill.
For a total bomb to possibly round out exotics or even win if the pace collapses, I find #11 California Frolic intriguing. This is a newly-turned four-year-old for Armando De La Cerda who has won three of his five starts over this surface and distance and hasn't been off the board since his debut. He hasn't been seen since last September, when he finished second in the Virginia Derby, and figures to be completely dismissed by the public. Despite being a 9% trainer in 2022, De La Cerda wins at 17% off a layoff of 61-180 days, and has won with two of his eight starters going from the turf to synthetic, with healthy ROIs in both stats. California Frolic doesn't have to improve much off his three-year-old form to be competitive here, and he figures to, as he has improved in every one of his nine lifetime starts to date. He's also shown the ability to win off a break, winning the English Channel Stakes off a 4 1/2 month layoff.
How To Play It: $45 Total
$5 win/place/show - #11 California Frolic
$.50 tri box - 1, 2, 3, 7, 11 ($30)
Race 8: Inside Information Stakes
Handicapper: Bill H.
The horse to beat is the #4 Obligatory with Jose Ortiz up for Bill Mott. She will definitely be the favorite and for that reason we’ll look to beat her. The #3 Colorful Mischief with Irad in the irons for Pletcher (21% J/T combo) will also be tough on here. This one ran a really nice third to Echo Zulu at CD in September. She cuts back a furlong, will sit off the speed and make first run on the leaders. The #7 Maryquitecontrary, with Luca Panici up for Catanese, has a ton going for her. She loves Gulfstream, and in my opinion, there’s no way Catanese enters this race unless she’s on top of her game. She cuts back a furlong and has one of my favorite pedigree betting angles – First Dude fillies. The play underneath is the #9 Last Leaf, with Miguel Vasquez up for Spatz – she’ll certainly be flying late.
How to Play It: $44 Total
20 win- #7 Maryquitecontarary
$2 Exacta Key- 3,7/3,4,7,9
$1 Trifecta Key – 3,7/3,4,7,9/3,4,7,9
Race 9: William McKnight (turf)
Handicapper: Tony C.
A bunch of old timers duking it out over a mile and a half on the turf--got to love it! #7 Channel Maker is listed as the 3-1 morning line favorite and, based on his long history of throwing down with the best turf marathoners around, perhaps he should be. At this price, however, I'm going to try to beat the 9-year old (Father Time is undefeated, right?). #4 Abaan is my choice in this event. First off, his game is to be on or near the lead and, while he won't be all alone, there doesn't appear to be a tremendous amount of pressure up there. Surely, Channel Maker will make his mark up front, but beyond that, there does not seem to be anyone else who truly wants to lay down the smoke early. It is interesting that Saez keeps the mount on Abaan despite having the saddle six times last year on Channel Maker. Piling on, I love that this is his second try off a layoff and his first effort was (A) at a shorter distance than he prefers and (B) he contested a blistering pace that day and (C) he's bounced back with several very strong works after that effort and (D) he and #11 Red Knight (another 9-year old) are the only two horses in this field who have both a win at this distance and a win on this track. Bottom line, I doubt very much that he will be 5-1--he takes a lot of money at the windows almost every time—but he looks like a standout play to me.
It’s a tough race to play as there are several old warriors in here either coming in after taking some time away from the track or simply not showing their sharpest form. Looking for some value, I’m intrigued by #3 Pao Alto. While his last effort was pretty dull, it was against some salty foes. The combination of Graham Motion and the jockey switch to Dettori lead me to think there might be a chance for improvement despite the fact that this distance may prove to be a stretch for him. He’s Beyered in the 90s in all 4 efforts in this country and a modest improvement puts him in the mix.
For a real stretch, I can’t ignore the current form on #1 Time for Trouble. I know, I know—he was an $8000 claimer 18 months ago. But, the fact remains that he’s won 4 of 5 since being gelded including a $166,000 allowance race and a restricted $100,000 stakes race. If he’s 20-1 as the morning line says, I’m not going to ignore him.
How to play it: $40
$20 to win on #4 Abaan
$5 Exacta Key Box 4 with 1, 3
Race 10: Handicap – Fred Hooper Stakes (turf)
Handicapper: Mike D.
There appears to be a ton of pace signed on to this one-turn mile, and many of the speed horses come out of races where they had things go their own way on the front end. This would appear to set things up nicely for the morning line favorite #1 Miles D (3/1). He is clearly the class of the race, but comes in off an 11 month layoff and is probably at his best going a little longer. I will be using him, but tough to endorse at a short price. The #9 Endorsed (5/1) is another one who should benefit from some early pace, and has been fairly sharp in his last two races. Although, he did not beat much last out and has had very little success at today’s distance. Using underneath. Of the four Saffie Joseph runners, #10 The Reds (12/1) should be the biggest price. After a brief freshening, this runner cuts back in distance after a less than ideal trip against a solid allowance field in Kentucky. The mile might be a little sharp for him, but he appears to be working well and will be running late. Interesting at a price. The #2 Noble Drama (20/1) has been a consistent, hard-knocking Florida bred, who likes to win races. Was up against it last out in Tampa while stuck behind a slow pace on a speed favoring track. Today he should get a similar set up to his race two back where he scored at 12-1 over the same track and distance. Will need to work out a trip from way back, but the price should be right. The selection.
How To Play It: $45 Total
$15 Win on #2
$5 Exacta Box: 1,2
$2 Exacta Box: 2,9,10
$4 double 2,10 with 2 (Dalika)
Race 11: Pegasus World Cup F&M Turf Invitational
Handicapper: Joe T.
Though the turf course seemed to even out a bit over the last day or two, it still feels like you’d rather be forwardly placed on the turf, especially at a route of ground. The horse with the most early speed in here is also my top choice - #2 Dalika. She’s at 5-2 on the ML and will probably be somewhere around there (though I think Chad and Wakanaka will take plenty of money). I’d love to get 3 or 4-1 on her. She fires well fresh and you know BJ Hernandez will be aggressive out of the gate. The #1 Artie’s Princess might be a bit troublesome if Jose Ortiz decides to send, and he probably will with that post, but Dalika has enough tactical speed to sit just off her flank if need be. The #7 Lady Rockstar is one I’m going to try to get into the exacta. She too has some tactical speed and looks like she prefers this shorter distance. She’s run just fine at 9F/10F, but this distance could be what she wants most. You know you’ll get a strong ride in the stretch from T-Gaff. #3 Wakanaka and #9 Shantisara will obviously be coming late and both have plenty of talent to win this race, but we’re putting greater emphasis on those runners that will be more forward early on. I don’t want any west coasters to throw shade at leaving the #6 Queen Goddess out of our analysis – so there it is.
How To Play It: $50 Total
$10 Exacta: 2-7
$5 Exacta: 7-2
$3 Triple: 2/7/3,4,6,8,9
$3 Triple: 2/3,4,6,8,9/7
Race 12: Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational
Handicapper: Rob V.
A race where I would without a doubt say one of my bigger plays of the day would happen if not for how the post-position draw. Lot of question marks in this race, how far does Ivar want to go? Can the mare beat the boys? Is Wit overrated but in a advantageous position because of the post? Can City Man overcome his post position? Does the Team Valor shipper with Frankie up deserve a second look?
I am going to take the posture that City Man is the best horse in this race at this distance and trust that Joel can navigate a trip from that post position. My biggest concern is just that Joel can’t find any opportunity to tuck in as this horse has a devastating turn of foot when he gets the chance to be covered up. Going to take an anti Ivar approach in this sequence, there is something about the distance that just rubs me the wrong way. City Man for the city guy…
How To Play It: $40 Total
$20 win 12
$5 exacta 12 with 1,4,6,11
Race 13: Pegasus World Cup Invitational
Handicapper: Brian P.
There are no Gunrunners or Arrogates in this race this year, so in my opinion, if you’re against Cyberknife, this is the most difficult race on the card. Guess what? I’m against Cyberknife on the win end due to the wide post/rider combo, so let’s dive in. I have 2 horses that I will be keying in on in the multi-race sequences, but for the purpose of this exercise I will take the #5 Defunded as my top selection. Irad/Bob so I will be surprised if the 6-1 ML holds but this horse appears to be the fastest on paper early, and should be able to get the lead before the quick run into the clubhouse turn. There are some other “speeds” on paper such as the #3 Ridin With Biden, #6 Art Collector and #11 Stilleto Boy but I don’t think any of them are quicker than Defunded. I could see him putting them in chase mode and turning for home with the lead and we all know Bob’s horses find something extra in the lane. The other horse that I will use on top is the #4 White Abbario. Full disclosure, I have NEVER been a fan of this horse and am quite surprised that I am today. However, this horse is 4 for 4 at Gulfstream, Saffie Joseph does his best work in Florida and I can see T-Gaff working out a trip much like he did in last years Florida Derby. From the inside draw, he should be able to save ground much of the way while sitting 2nd flight, and would not be surprised at all to see this runner turning for home while challenging for the lead. The 4 horses that I will be using to round out my trifectas will be the #1 Proxy, #7 Skippylongstocking, #9 Last Samurai and #10 Cyberknife. These are all horses who should be mid-pack or closers that could pick up some pieces late.
How To Play It: $46 Total
$20 to Win: #5 Defunded (Hoping for 4-1 or higher)
$5 Exacta Box: #4 White Abbario/#5 Defunded
$2 Trifecta: 4,5 / 4,5 / 1,7,9,10