2020 Pegasus World Cup Preview

Pegasus 2020 Logo

January 22nd 2020 – Updated January 25th 2020 5:20 PM EST

Coming up Saturday, we get our first big horse race of the year with the fourth annual Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. The Pegasus World Cup was the richest horse race in the world in 2017 and 2018 with purses of $12 Million and $16 Million respectively. Last year, the purse was reduced to $9 Million. This year it was reduced again down to $3 Million, the same purse size as the Kentucky Derby.

This race would have been more interesting had Maximum Security been entered as everyone hoped. But Maximum Security’s owner Gary West is bypassing the Pegasus in favor of the $20 million Saudi Cup scheduled for February 29th.

Below are the official entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for this year’s Pegasus World Cup scheduled for Saturday, January 25th at Gulfstream Park. Post time is 5:34 PM EST.  The race will be televised on NBC with coverage beginning at 4:30 PM EST. All horses will carry 124 lbs weight.

2020 Pegasus World Cup 1 1/8th mile 

Post Position/ Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. True Timber – Bravo/McLaughlin – 20/1
2. Tax – J. Ortiz/Gargan – 12/1  
3. Diamond Oops – Leparoux/Biancone – 20/1
4. Seeking the Soul – Velazquez/Stewart – 30/1   
5. Omaha Beach – Smith/Mandella – 7/5  (Scratched)
6. Higher Power – Prat/Sadler – 6/1  
7. War Story – Rosario/Dobles – 30/1
8. Mr Freeze – Saez/Romans – 30/1  
9. Spun to Run – Castellano/Guerrero – 7/2  (Scratched
10. Mucho Gusto – I. Ortiz Jr/Baffert – 9/2    
11. Tenfold – Gafflione/Asmussen – 30/1
12. Bodexpress – Jaramillo/Gargan – 30/1  

Race Analysis: With the scratches of Omaha Beach and Spun to Run, this scrambles up my original handicapping. The race favorite and my new favorite to win will be Mucho Gusto. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr, who won beat Omaha Beach in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile aboard Spun to Run, opted to switch mounts and jump onboard Bob Baffert’s entry Mucho Gusto. This was a surprising move at the time but Baffert claims that Mucho Gusto has been training well of late.

Perhaps a step up from 8 to 9 furlongs is another reason that factored in Ortiz’s decision since Spun to Run’s best finish at 9 furlongs was his third place in the Haskell Invitational where he finished behind Maximum Security and Mucho Gusto.

I like Mucho Gusto being keyed to win in exotics with Tax, Higher Power, Mr Freeze, Diamond Oops and War Story. I will add that Mucho Gusto is no lock and I’m not betting big on this race. Respected handicappers are all over the board on who they think the race winner will be and a lot of them don’t like Mucho Gusto due to his last performance in the Remington Stakes. I asked my respected horse racing handicapping friends for their picks and nobody wants any part of this one. You have horses coming off long layoffs, so anything can happen. My advice, make smaller trifecta and superfecta bets. I did 10 over 2,6 over 2,6 over 2,3,6,7,12.

Right now, Mucho Gusto and Higher Power are both around 3-1. With Higher Power having issues eating a few days ago, you have to wonder how his stamina will be today.

I will update this blog clear up until post-time in case there are any scratches or the weather changes. Right now, weather.com shows it will be sunny and clear with temps in the 70s. Also note that you can find free past performances for this race by clicking HERE

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2017 Wood Memorial Stakes Preview

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

April 7th 2017

It’s been awhile since the Wood Memorial Stakes has produced a Kentucky Derby winner. Thirteen years and counting with Funny Cide in 2003 who finished second in the Wood Memorial that year. The last Wood Memorial winner to go on and win the Kentucky Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

Inaugurated in 1925, the Wood Memorial was named after New York state politician and horse racing enthusiast Eugene D. Wood. Wood founded the Jamaica Racecourse which where the Wood Memorial was run until 1960.  Long ago, “The Wood” used to be one of the premier final Kentucky Derby prep races. It has produced four Triple Crown Champions: Gallant Fox (1930), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Seattle Slew (1977).

However, like the Blue Grass Stakes, the Wood Memorial was recently downgraded for 2017 from a Grade 1 to a Grade 2 event. Below are the post-position, jockeys and morning line odds for this year’s running.

The Wood Memorial   1 1/8th Mile – Race #10 at Aqueduct – Post-Time: 4:52 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network & TVG

1.  Glennrichment – Carmouche/Rodriguez – 15/1
2. Mo Town – Castellano/Dutrow – 6/1  
3. Battalion Runner – Velazquez/Pletcher – 2/1 
4. Bonus Points – Saez/Pletcher- 20/1
5. True Timber – Lopez/McLaughlin – 12/1
6. Stretch’s Stone – Franco/Levine – 15/1
7. Cloud Computing – Ortiz Jr/Brown – 5/2
8. Irish War Cry – Maragh/Motion – 7/2 

Race Commentary:  Todd Pletcher has won four Wood Memorial Stakes races and I like his chances of number five with Battalion Runner. Battalion Runner was entered last Saturday in the Florida Derby as a backup to Always Dreaming. I liked his chances of a win in the Florida Derby then better than Always Dreaming in that race but he was scratched.

Who finishes second, third and fourth in this race is anybody’s guess. It depends upon which Irish War Cry shows up, the one who scored a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in his Holy Bull Stakes win? Or the version who finished a disappointing seventh in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. The same holds true for Mo Town who won the Remsen Stakes, then finished out of the money and in fifth place in Risen Star Stakes.

My Prediction:   For the above reasons with inconsistency of form from Irish War Cary and Mo Town, I don’t like exotic bets for this race. I am not sold on the second favorite Cloud Computing. And Todd Pletcher’s other entry, Bonus Points, hasn’t had shown enough in workouts or previous races to make me think he will be a factor. So I like straight win bets on Battalion Runner. I expect his live odds to shorten from 2/1 and be closer to 1/1.  Unless Irish War Cry has a return to form, I think Battalion Runner runs away with this one. This may be a better race to just watch than lay any money on.

My previews of the Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby can be accessed by clicking here: Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. Or by scrolling down if you accessed this from my home page URL address: thederbyhandicapper.com.