Pegasus World Cup 2022 Entries: Knicks Go v. Life Is Good on Saturday

The crowds will be gathering ... it's Pegasus Day at Gulfstream Park! Anchoring the big card is the World Cup, and it has a titanic match-up ... check out this guide below ...
The crowds will be gathering ... it's Pegasus Day at Gulfstream Park! Anchoring the big card is the World Cup, and it has a titanic match-up ... check out this guide below ...

Race 12: 1 1/8th (Dirt), Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), Purse $3 million, 4+ (Saturday)

Since the Donn Handicap became the Pegasus World Cup back in 2017, Gulfstream Park has continued to make a significant investment as far as purse money in the race. The founding of “Pegasus Day,” and utilizing the word, “Invitational,” creates a certain mystique they seemed to argue. Of course, when it came to purse money, lofty intentions led the way … in 2017 the purse was $12 million, then $16.3 in 2018 … before steadily coming down to $3 million by 2020. Still, the “World Cup” creates quite a bit of buzz, and has attracted quality runners since the Donn Handicap days. Celebrated winners like Cigar (2x), Skipaway, Medaglia d’Oro, Invasor (ARG), Quality Road, Constitution, Arrogate, Gun Runner, and of course, last year’s victor, Knicks Go form quite an honor roll. It should be another intriguing race once again!

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Knicks Go (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: B. Cox):

The HOY … Longines, check … most assuredly the Eclipse Award, check … is there anything this runner cannot do? Maybe Saudi … Trainer Brad Cox famously took this one over from Ben Colebrook (I am sure Colebrook is tired of hearing about it), and the son of Paynter responded in all sorts of ways. In Colebrook’s defense, the horse did win for him (@KEE), but clearly the Korea Racing Authority has enjoyed this run with Cox. This is the beautiful grey’s last race … it’s time to retire … With Joel Rosario aboard, he will once again be the one to beat! Exiting from the rail, and am sure ‘cappers will try to find a way to beat him. Unless he absolutely blows the start, we could be looking at yet another front-running victory. Unless … Unless …

Grade: A-


#2 Chess Chief (Jky: R. Gutierrez/Trn: D. Stewart):

Here is a popular pick that many a fan would like to see upset the favorites. I am not sure if Dallas Stewart’s entry has what it takes to succeed in a spot like this one—Grade 1. It is not that he is without class; mind you, he did win a G2 at the Fair Grounds last March. But that was not near as high-caliber a race as this one. What the horse by Into Mischief does have going for him is the hot-riding ability of Rey Gutierrez. That young man has increased his stock by aggressively pushing his mounts early-on in races. Maybe he can marshal some strength late in this contest? Otherwise, accessing the minor awards is about all that can be expected.

Grade: C+


#3 Stiletto Boy (Jky: K. Desormeaux/Trn: E. Moger):

Since last summer at Prairie Meadows, this runner has steadily improved for the Moger Barn … especially after that amazing score in the Iowa Derby $250k. Even though this gelding by Shackleford faced Knicks Go and the gang in the BC Classic (G1) at Del Mar, and Flightline, the magnificent, in the Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita, he has not visited the winner’s circle since Iowa. The wily Kent Desormeaux makes the trip east from SoCal, and maybe he can pull a rabbit out of a hat. This will be his 6th attempt aboard this one, so that classifies as experience.

Grade: C+


#4 Life Is Good (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: T. Pletcher):

Like his rival Knicks Go, the Into Mischief star has not been since early November at Del Mar. In the BC Dirt Mile (G1), the colt with Irad Ortiz in the irons, put on a front-running exhibition that impressed the throng. Of course, he was favored to score, but it was the capstone to what amounted to a tough year. Recall, he was a Derby Trail prospect … probably The Derby Prospect … and after suffering an injury, he was put on the shelf by trainer Bob Baffert. WinStar Farm then decided to transfer their prize over to Pletcher, after Baffert’s Medina Spirit woes deepened. This comeback race in S. Florida was on the books it seems months ago. One has to think that even an injured Irad Ortiz will rise to the occasion. He would not want to miss out riding him to victory. The main threat to Cox’s retiring steed …

Grade: A-


#5 Empty Tomb (Jky: P. Lopez/Trn: R. Falcone):

Rob Falcone claimed this son of Speightstown from Mike Maker back in early August after the horse ran in an OC80k at Saratoga. His new barn took the then-5-yr-old and sent him to train for a high-level “Non-G” distance test at Belmont. Facing aces like Locally Owned and Lone Rock, he was clearly overmatched … the same should be the case here. Even with local jock Paco Lopez in the saddle, it is hard to imagine that the WinStar-bred runner belongs in a G1 like this. Is this just filler by the Stronach folks? Seems to be the case.

Grade: C


#6 Sir Winston (Jky: E. Gonzalez/Trn: M. Casse):

If you scroll down the PPs of this 6-yr-old, you will find a race that he competed in that might be familiar … the 2019 Belmont Stakes. Winning nicely that day at odds of 10/1 (giving Casse another Triple Crown race to his credit), he went on the shelf for 6 months. A series of fits and starts ensued, and Casse finally has the son of Awesome Again ready to try another G1. Some think he is a sleeper pick, and worthy of a hard look. With Edwin Gonzalez aboard, that could make for an interesting team. He has never ridden this one in competition, so proceed at your own risk when it comes to backing him at the window. Still, it is not often we get a former Trail winner back … almost 3 years later. His recent back class up at Woodbine will be difficult to interpret.

Grade: B


#7 Title Ready (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: D. Stewart):

The last really “big race” that this horse by More Than Ready competed in was another World Cup … in Dubai. Trainer Dallas Stewart made the trip over for Charles Fipke, and even though his charge did not run very well against Stidham’s Mystic Guide, it was still a valiant move. After a good 8 months off, the horse headed back to the work tab, and he came back nicely in an OC150k at Churchill … finishing 3rd. Stewart then sent him up against some tough Oaklawn competition, where he ran into Diodoro’s Lone Rock. It was not a good effort, so one has to think that he is outclassed coming into Gulfstream. I am not so sure that is true … If I had to pick a “sleeper,” this would be my selection. I think the choice of Tyler Gaffalione is splendid, and he has the ability to make a difference. Outsider … Stewart … love it!

Grade: B+


#8 Endorsed (Jky: U. Rispoli/Trn: M. Maker):

It would not be a major stakes race in S. Florida without the presence of Mike Maker. A conditioner of excellent ability, he has a stable that can get hot at a moment’s notice. Last time, in the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream, Maker sent this 6-yr-old by Medaglia d’Oro in, and he was the favorite as they entered the starting gate. Even though he did not have enough gas in the tank, it was a solid effort. Of course, Umberto Rispoli, who is in-town from SoCal, is going to have to find more, if he wants to compete at this level. It might not be enough, but Maker has been underestimated before … he can make you pay.

Grade: B-


#9 Commandeer (Jky: J. Leparoux/Trn: J. Toner):

There are outsiders … and then there are true outsiders … This is the latter … I am not sure if Jimmy Toner’s gelding by Street Boss should be in this contest, but I suppose you have to fill the gates somehow. Previously trained by Eoin Harty, it is good to see that he is 2/2 with his new barn. Of course, those were ALLW/OC Co. races, and this is a Grade 1. Maybe those great workouts will assist, because it looks as though he is firing some bullets over at Palm Meadows. Julien Leparoux is one of those riders that is probably in the “most underrated” category. He knows how to handle difficult assignments on the biggest of stages. I would not write him off … maybe, just his mount.

Grade: C


Join us Saturday for all of our Pegasus Day selections! Should be a great set of races from Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet! Be sure to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!