2020 Pegasus World Cup Cheat Sheet – America’s Best Racing

2020 Pegasus World Cup Cheat Sheet  America’s Best Racing

Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park is the first marquee stakes race of 2020 and brings together several of the best older dirt racehorses in training to vie for a purse of $3 million.

The Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile race will be held for the fourth year under its new name — it was previously run as the Donn Handicap — and with some changes for 2020 (there no longer is an entry fee for contenders and all will compete without race-day medications).

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The headliner among the 12 or 13 expected Pegasus starters is Omaha Beach, who will be making his final career appearance before heading off to a stud career at Spendthrift Farm and could join luminaries such as Arrogate (2017), Gun Runner (2018) and City of Light (2019) as Pegasus winners.

Post time is expected to be around 5:40 p.m. ET, and the race will be televised live on NBC along with the $1 million, Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational during a broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Keep reading for the scoop on the 2020 Pegasus World Cup contenders. This list will be updated with post-position order as well as morning-line odds after entries are drawn the week of the race.

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Coady Photography

Bodexpress

Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo

Trainer: Gustavo Delgado

Owners: Top Racing, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing Stable

Career record: 10 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $264,000

Earnings per start: $26,400

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Bodemeister – Pied a Terre, by City Zip

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A longshot contender during last year’s run up to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, Bodexpress may have finally matured into a graded-stakes caliber racehorse entering his 4-year-old season. After unseating his jockey at the start of the Preakness Stakes (which followed a Kentucky Derby appearance in which he was involved in Maximum Security’s roughhousing through the far turn), Bodexpress took nearly a five-month break before returning with two easy wins – the first two of his career – at Gulfstream Park West in the fall. He set the pace in both victories, and tried to do the same in the Dec. 14 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park, but ran out of gas late and checked in third in a race won by War Story. Expect jockey Emisael Jaramillo, currently enjoying a solid meet at Gulfstream, to urge his mount out of the gate in the Pegasus and challenge Spun to Run for the lead. Bodexpress has run well in south Florida and could spice up payoffs in the Pegasus trifecta and superfecta if he brings his “A” game, but he’s an outsider as a win candidate. 

Bet Bodexpress in the Pegasus World Cup.


Nicole Thomas/Coglianese Photo

Diamond Oops

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Patrick Biancone

Owners: Diamond 100 Racing Club, Amy Dunne, D P Racing, and Patrick Biancone Racing

Career record: 12 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $646,490

Earnings per start: $53,874

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 117

Pedigree: Lookin At Lucky – Patriotic Viva, by Whywhywhy

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding has fashioned a successful career in sprint races, but has never competed at a mile and an eighth before. On the positive side, he’s 5-for-6 running on Gulfstream Park’s dirt track, posting four stakes wins. He also nearly pulled off an upset in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on grass at Keeneland on Oct. 5, losing by three-quarters of a length. But in his only start at a mile on dirt, he was outclassed by Spun to Run and Omaha Beach in the Nov. 2 Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita Park, finishing a well-beaten eighth. Diamond Oops returned to Gulfstream and impressed with a one-length score in the seven-furlong, Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes on Dec. 21. This “horse for course” will need to display a never-before reserve of stamina to win the Pegasus, but he is a game competitor and should give a better showing against Spun to Run and Omaha Beach on his home track than he did in Southern California.

Bet Diamond Oops in the Pegasus World Cup.


Eclipse Sportswire

Higher Power

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Hronis Racing

Career record: 15 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 6 thirds

Career earnings: $1,376,648

Earnings per start: $91,777

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115

Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro – Alternate, by Seattle Slew

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This late-blooming horse broke through with a visually impressive score in last summer’s Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar and then followed that with two respectable third-place finishes in the Awesome Again Stakes and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. He started poorly in both of those races and was defeated by a total of 16 lengths, but he did make up some ground late and kept trying. Higher Power has been a different racehorse since he was transferred to John Sadler’s barn last spring, and he should be one of the top three or four win contenders in the Jan. 25 Pegasus, which will mark his first start away from California since March 16, 2019. If he gets off to a better start and reclaims the form he showed in the Pacific Classic, he could spring the upset against Omaha Beach. Sadler saddled Hronis Racing’s champion Accelerate for his final career start in last year’s Pegasus, where he finished third as the 3-2 favorite.

Bet Higher Power in the Pegasus World Cup.


Coady Photography

Mr Freeze

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owners: Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister

Career record: 10 starts – 4 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $639,110

Earnings per start: $63,911

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115

Pedigree: To Honor and Serve – Heavenly Cat, by Tabasco Cat

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The 2018 West Virginia Derby winner cycled back into good form during the second half of 2019 and enters the Pegasus off of four consecutive good showings and a series of maintenance workouts at Gulfstream Park for trainer Dale Romans. His last three starts have all come in graded stakes: a win in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Stakes going a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs, and then a second and a third behind top-class Tom’s d’Etat in the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes and the Grade 1 Clark Stakes presented by Norton Healthcare, respectively. Mr Freeze showed a lot of heart in both the Fayette and the Clark but did get tired late in both route events, and he’ll need a career-best effort to hit the board in the Pegasus, especially as his pace-stalking style is shared by several fellow starters, including Omaha Beach.

Bet Mr Freeze in the Pegasus World Cup.


Lauren King/Coglianese Photo

Omaha Beach

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Richard Mandella

Owner: Fox Hill Farms

Career record: 10 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,651,800

Earnings per start: $165,180

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: War Front – Charming, by Seeking the Gold

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Despite having his Triple Crown prospects dashed last spring due to a throat ailment, Omaha Beach still gets well-deserved respect as one of the most talented racehorses to compete in recent years. He’s come back strong since a six-month absence, winning Grade 1 stakes at six and seven furlongs and finishing second to Spun to Run in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile after breaking slowly and being positioned well off the pace early by Mike Smith. He’ll extended back out to 1 1/8 miles for the Pegasus, a distance where he impressed fans and bettors last spring in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, and his high cruising speed should be a formidable asset racing on Gulfstream’s track, which often benefits horses on the front end in route races. Look for Omaha Beach to stay within a couple of lengths of Spun to Run and the other early leaders before Smith pushes the button entering the final turn. The Richard Mandella trainee had a momentary break in training a week and a half ago after shipping to Gulfstream as he dealt with a foot bruise, but returned with a solid five-furlong breeze on Jan. 12 and appears all set to conclude his racing career with another stellar performance before moving on to Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. Smith won the inaugural Pegasus World Cup on Arrogate in 2017.

Bet Omaha Beach in the Pegasus World Cup.


Eclipse Sportswire

Seeking the Soul

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Charles Fipke

Career record: 31 starts – 7 wins – 6 seconds – 7 thirds

Career earnings: $3,420,153

Earnings per start: $110,328

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 122

Pedigree: Perfect Soul – Seeking the Title, by Seeking the Gold

Color: Bay

Age: 7

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This veteran 7-year-old runner will attempt to recapture the form he showed in last year’s Pegasus, where he ran a good second behind City of Light to secure a $1.25-million payday. Three starts later, he won the June 15 Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at his home track of Churchill Downs, but then lost his good form in four consecutive Grade 1 races to close out the year, finishing seventh, fourth, and sixth twice and defeated by eight lengths or more each time. Seeking the Soul should be coming from the back of the pack and there projects to be enough early speed to set up his late run … if he can regain any semblance of his best form, that is. Seeking the Soul also finished fifth in the 2018 Pegasus, which was won by Gun Runner.

Bet Seeking the Soul in the Pegasus World Cup.


Eclipse Sportswire

Spun to Run

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Juan Carlos Guerrero

Owner: Robert Donaldson

Career record: 12 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $1,160,520

Earnings per start: $96,710

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 123

Pedigree: Hard Spun – Yawkey Way, by Grand Slam

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After emerging on the Pennsylvania circuit last summer and mixing in a sneaky-good third-place finish behind Maximum Security in the TVG.com Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park, Spun to Run broke through on the national scene with a commanding gate-to-wire win in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park, defeating even-money favorite Omaha Beach by 2 ¾ lengths. The pair square off again in the Pegasus World Cup and should be the two post-time favorites. Spun to Run does not need to secure the early lead to win, but expect his jockey to try to do just that, as this colt’s two best career performances – in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the race prior, a win in a one-mile stakes at Parx Racing – came when he was aggressively ridden and played “catch me if you can” with the field. Ortiz tried to rate Spun to Run behind Maximum Security in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap on Dec. 7 –  his only start since the Breeders’ Cup – and that did not work out as he could not keep up in the stretch and finished second by 3 ½ lengths. The Cigar Mile was held around one turn, and Spun to Run will return to his preferred two turns in the Pegasus. He shapes up as the main challenger to Omaha Beach and is a must-use in all exacta and trifecta tickets.

Bet Spun to Run in the Pegasus World Cup.


Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo

Tax

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Danny Gargan

Owners: R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable

Career record: 10 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $828,300

Earnings per start: $82,830

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Arch – Toll, by Giant’s Causeway

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding enters the Pegasus as an under-the-radar contender who has been patiently handled by trainer Danny Gargan. Through 10 career starts, he’s only failed to fire twice – in last spring’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (finished 15th, placed 14th) and in the Runhappy Travers Stakes three months later (finished a tired seventh). He has a career record of two wins, two seconds, and one third in five starts at 1 1/8 miles, with both wins coming in graded stakes. His most recent start, a runner-up finish in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Discovery Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30, was his first start since the Travers and could set him up very nicely for an improved effort in the Pegasus. Look for Tax to track the pacesetters but still be positioned prominently throughout the race, as he needs to be close once the field hits the top of the homestretch in order to engage with horses. Tax will need to step up his game against Omaha Beach, Spun to Run, and Higher Power in the Pegasus, but he’s not without a shot at posting a career-defining upset win.

Bet Tax in the Pegasus World Cup.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo

Tenfold

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds

Career record: 15 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $968,390

Earnings per start: $64,559

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Curlin – Temptress, by Tapit

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The epitome of a talented-but-inconsistent racehorse, Tenfold gave one of his better efforts in his most recent start, finishing fourth by a half-length in a listed one-mile and 70-yard stakes race at Fair Grounds Dec. 22. Prior to that, he’d been soundly defeated in four consecutive graded stakes races, his best finish in that string a fourth in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes won by Higher Power, who beat him by 9 ½ lengths. Tenfold’s two stakes wins came in the 2018 Jim Dandy Stakes, a Grade 2 at 1 1/8 miles, and the last year’s Grade 3 Pimlico Special at 1 ¼ miles, so handling the Pegasus’ mile and an eighth should not be a problem. He has never raced at Gulfstream before, however, and that track’s tendency to favor speed could be a big obstacle to his win chances on top of his inconsistency. A minor award appears to be his ceiling based on his current form. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen won the 2018 Pegasus World Cup with superstar Gun Runner.

Bet Tenfold in the Pegasus World Cup.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

True Timber

Jockey: Joe Bravo

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Owner: Calumet Farm

Career record: 22 starts – 4 wins – 4 seconds – 7 thirds

Career earnings: $950,550

Earnings per start: $43,207

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 113

Pedigree: Mineshaft – Queen’s Wood, by Tiznow

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This veteran’s past performances place him as a high-odds filler for the bottom rung of the Pegasus trifecta (or bottom two of the superfecta) but nothing more. His four career wins all came at distances of seven furlongs or less and none came in stakes. On the positive side, in his three previous starts leading into the Pegasus – all in graded stakes – he finished third each time, including the most recent of that trio when he made up some late ground to finish behind Maximum Security and Spun to Run in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Dec. 7 at Aqueduct. Aside from a well-beaten seventh in last year’s Pegasus and his subsequent ninth-place finish in Dubai, True Timber has not finished worse than third since Nov. 25, 2017, so he should not be overlooked as an option to spice up the abovementioned bets, even if 1 1/8 miles appears to be well beyond his preferred distance.

Bet True Timber in the Pegasus World Cup.


Bob Coglianese/Gulfstream Park

War Story

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Elizabeth Dobles

Owners: Imaginary Stables and Glenn Ellis

Career record: 38 starts – 8 wins – 7 seconds – 5 thirds

Career earnings: $2,984,996

Earnings per start: $78,553

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 124

Pedigree: Northern Afleet – Belle Watling, by Tapit

Color: Chestnut

Age: 8

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Five years after first surfacing on the Road to the 2015 Kentucky Derby, War Story is still competing at a graded-stakes caliber level, and the gelding will be making his third Pegasus appearance after skipping last year’s renewal. In his most recent start, he impressively won the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes on Dec. 14 at Gulfstream, his first start for young trainer Elizabeth Dobles (who is having a good meet at the track, ranking 10th in earnings through Jan. 15). He also won another Grade 3 race last year and placed in two other graded stakes, and has found success through the years racing in long-distance events such as the 1 ½-mile Brooklyn Handicap, which he won in 2017 and ran second in 2018. War Story runs best when he’s near the early lead, and it will be interesting to see where his jockey places him relative to Spun to Run and Omaha Beach, the two top Pegasus win contenders who also do their best work when forwardly placed. He finished a well-beaten fifth in the inaugural 2017 Pegasus and a no-show 10th in 2018 (beaten 31 lengths) but has a shot to do better on Saturday based on his 2019 form and the lesser quality of his opponents compared with previous years.

Bet War Story in the Pegasus World Cup.


Possible:

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Math Wizard

Jockey: TBD

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Owners: John Fanelli, Khalid Mishref, Cash is King, LC Racing, Collarmele Vitelli Stables, Ioannis Zoumas, and Bassett Stables

Career record: 14 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $1,040,623

Earnings per start: $74,330

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 121

Pedigree: Algorithms – Minister’s Baby, by Deputy Minister

Color: Chestnut

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last fall’s Pennsylvania Derby upset winner brought his eclectic ownership group and up-and-coming young trainer into the national spotlight, and Math Wizard is poised to carry those good vibes forward as a local favorite for the Pegasus World Cup. Gulfstream-based Joseph has put his charge through a series of solid workouts at the track but told Mike Welsch of Daily Racing Form that there was only a 10% chance Math Wizard would start in the Pegasus. If he does compete, Math Wizard profiles as an intriguing win candidate among the second tier of horses after Omaha Beach, Spun to Run, and Higher Power. He has a stalking running style that should put him right behind a group of early horses but in a better position than deep closers, giving his jockey the opportunity to judge the early pace and possibly make a move for contention at just the right time when the field turns for home. His recent training indicates Math Wizard may be ready to cycle back to the form he displayed last September at Parx Racing when he defeated Mr. Money, War of Will, Improbable, and, oh yes, Spun to Run – and that makes him dangerous in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup.

Bet Math Wizard in the Pegasus World Cup.


BENOIT photo

Midcourt

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Trainer: John Shirreffs

Owner: C R K Stable

Career record: 8 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $222,695

Earnings per start: $27,837

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Midnight Lute – Mayo On the Side, by French Deputy

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A class hike awaits this talented California-based gelding, who won four races in a row, including the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, last year before finishing third behind Gift Box in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes to close out his 4-year-old season. Midcourt set an uncontested pace in his Native Diver victory but showed an ability to rate in his other three 2019 wins, and it will be interesting to see where Victor Espinoza positions him during the early stages of the Pegasus compared with Spun to Run, Bodexpress, and the other projected front-runners. Midcourt is ambitiously placed in the Pegasus, but having him ship all the way across the country is a sign of his connections’ confidence, and he’s worth consideration as a longshot for exacta and especially trifecta and superfecta tickets. Espinoza was aboard two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome for his career finale in the 2017 Pegasus; Chrome finished a surprising ninth on a day that did nothing to diminish his status as one of the decade’s very best racehorses.

Bet Midcourt in the Pegasus World Cup.