By Michael Patricks
The Pegasus Word Cup is all set for Saturday and the Jockey Club will be open at 10 a.m. with full coverage. The day features the $7,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational for older horses alongside the grand daddy of them all, the $9,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Invitational which is the world’s richest horse race.
2018 horse-of-the-year runner-up Accelerate headlines the cast as the 9/5 morning line favorite. His primary nemesis on paper is the Mike McCarthy-trained City of Light at 5/2. Local hope Gunnevera is installed at 8/1 and Chad Brown’s Patternrecognition suffers the widest imposition at 10/1 odds from the number 12 barrier.
Be it known, the $7,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational precedes the Pegasus World Cup with a 1:51 p.m. PST start. The Pegasus World Cup is twelfth race on the banner program with a 2:36 p.m. PST start.
Make sure to join us on February 3rd for the big game live from the Jockey Club. After the races, we will offer free admission for the game along with food and drink specials throughout. Tell your friends and make plans to join us for the Pegasus World Cup and the big gridiron battle. Call 707-524-6340 for all the details.
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Falling back into stride with race analysis from the Pegasus World Cup. A field of twelve will contest the 9 furlongs from Hallandale, Florida.
1-Bravazo 12/1 ML- Seen this movie before. Calumet-bred draws the cozy inside slot in which Arrogate prevailed from in 2017, devastating California Chrome in a supposed match race which just never materialized. He’s winless in almost a year and lacks killer instinct to close through the lane; he will need to tear a page out of unanimous Hall-of-Fame inductee Mariano Rivera’s playbook if he’s to be taken seriously when push comes to shove–and that is something he’s been unable to do with the likes of this type of quality flesh in races past.
2-Something Awesome 20/1 ML– Race-envisioner Frank Stronach of Stronach Stables will take a shot in the dark with this guy. The lion’s share of his success has occurred against much less competition and quality of stock than he’ll be facing in the Pegasus. Grinding past War Story on a bull ring is a totally different task than knocking off the twin towers of Accelerate and City of Light when fully cranked. His best work has come at this distance, but again–against less stock, and for that reason I am not buying what he’s selling.
3- City of Light 5/2 ML– One tough hombre. Son of Quality Road has yet to toss in a clunker and has five wins over four different surfaces and is Grade 1 stakes-placed when sprinting at Saratoga in the Forego. City of Light got 2018 off on the right foot when taking down the then-streaking, but unfortunately ill-fated, Bobby Abu Dhabi in the Triple Bend before handing Accelerate his lone “L” in 2018 in the Oaklawn Handicap. Expect Rosario to spy Castellano every step of the way, but it’s my opinion Gulfstream Park’s main track can be the type of surface where horses can struggle to bridge the gap compared to many other surfaces. The price won’t be incredible, but he’s the best chance to play upsetter on Accelerate this Saturday.
4-Seeking the Soul 12-1 ML– A couple of things about this guy: I picked him to upset City of Light and Catalina Cruiser in the BC Dirt Mile and he did run quite well in finishing second with mild trouble. Owner Charles Fipke used Seeking the Soul as his entrant in the gate last year and he was manhandled by Gun Runner and crew at 41/1. While he does appear to be heading into the starting gate in better form this year than last, he appears to be a substantial reach to me. I think he’s a Churchill Downs course specialist and it would take more than The Monkees (1966), Neil Diamond (1967), Eddie Murphy (2001) or even Smash Mouth (2001) to ‘make me a believer’ in him, and especially at the reduction in value off last year’s para-mutuel white-washing.
5-Accelerate 9/5 ML– His resume speaks volumes–7-for-8 in 2018 (second only to City of Light on the race track in the Oaklawn Handicap and second only to undefeated Triple Crown-winner Justify as 2018 Horse of the Year). There is no question if he imposes his will he will be a real handful to deal with. Accelerate put to rest his inability to fire fresh off the layoff in the Pacific Classic and also dispelled the myth that he cannot ship and run last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The real question here is if he’s as sharp on Saturday as he was in November. Expect his odds to be in the 6/5 to 7/5 arena at post time with City of Light hovering around 3/1 on the board; obvious contender.
6- Tom’s d’Etat 20/1 ML– Seems to be getting good but this is his first time in graded-stakes waters, let alone a Grade I and he also must ship in for the assignment, while displaying no works over the local surface. At least his regular rider comes with him but he’s not facing the likes of Phat Man and Pioneer Spirit this time around and that will be reconfirmed when he looks just to his left in the starting gate; outsider.
7-True Timber 30/1 ML– Similar challenge exists here for True Timber as Tom’s d’Etat: late-bloomer who has gradually evolved into a nice overnight stakes type and did have his career highlight posted last time out with a runner-up at big balloons behind Patternrecognition in the Cigar Mile. This will also be his first time leaving the eastern seaboard but does at least have a work at Palm Meadows nearby and a couple triple-digit Beyer speed figures to boast. Prefer him over Tom’s d’Etat head-to-head for a beer if you want to accept that wager, but have no real fascination in going on further with him than behind proposition wagers.
8- Gunnevera 8/1 ML– Grizzled veteran and seasoned handicapper Kurt Jastrow of Petaluma espouses a view that instead of betting a multitude of races on any given day with a $200 bank roll, that a handicapper should find that “value horse” who can hit the board and bet that $200 bank roll to show on that one said horse. If a horse such a Gunnevera runs 1-2-3, you should likely receive somewhere in the neighborhood of a $3.40 show price which would be a net victory of $140. According to Jastrow, “That’s an amount equal to one day’s wages and certainly something to think about.” Jastrow later quipped, this type of play, “takes discipline”. Well, Gunnevera loves Gulfstream Park ( 8-for-9 ITM) and did finish third in this race last year (beaten 13 lengths). If you’re trying to make money in this race while getting around the top two choices, I wouldn’t talk you out of Jastrow’s theory of profit-making if you want to unfasten the money clip and flex your muscle for the show dough at the window a la Jastrow. However, Gunnevera’s chances at achieving top honors in this race remain speculative best.
9-Kukulkan (Mex) 30/1 ML– Comparing his 9 furlong fractions at Gulfstream Park to last year’s Pegasus featuring Gun Runner, Kukulkan would have been 21 lengths behind after six furlongs, 33 lengths after a mile and 37 lengths at the finish. He had it all his own way to the tune of a 70 Beyer figure last time out. The undefeated 14-for-14 comes down with a wrecking ball on Saturday as this guy’s about to be in for a rude awakening from this wrecking crew.
10-Audible 10/1 ML– Florida Derby winner has shown a penchant for the surface but was sidelined for most of the 2018 campaign before his recent re-emergence on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. He comes in off a decent effort in a sloppy Grade II event, defeated at 1/9 on the tote board. The price is better on him than it has been in the past eight races but cooling my jets dramatically is the understandable defection of Castellano to City of Light; puncher’s chance, but demand every bit of that 10/1 before ambitiously backing; needs to lunge forward dramatically.
11-Imperative 30/1 ML– Completely legless in 2018 and now we’re supposed to believe that 30/1 is acceptable? Would he win this race once every thirty times? Absolutely not. Would he win this race at this point in his career once every three hundred times? Doubtful. Why would I accept a 30/1 morning line on the outcome of an event that is more like one chance in 500 or 600? He’s done dealing.
12-Patternrecognition 10/1 ML– Long-winding project has become a much more professional conveyance in the back end of his 2018 campaign. He’s won three straight races on three different surfaces with three different riders, all since his recent change in tactics by sounding the alarm from the word go. He is well trained and doesn’t strike me as a quitter, but he’s going to feel some nipping at his heels and Ortiz will have his hands full crossing over to clear and keeping this guy from coming out of the bridal too fast. I do believe City of Light will pounce on Patternrecognition nearing the 1/2 mile pole, and that last half-mile sprint to the wire could prove quite problematic for this fella.