The 2021 Pegasus World Cup
The Pegasus World Cup might not be the world’s richest race anymore and might not have a star-studded field this year, but I think it is a competitive race, and it anchors an all-stakes pick 5 that looks like a good wagering opportunity.
The race favorite will likely be Knicks Go off a lightning-fast performance and win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile over a super-fast racetrack. Knicks Go has never been the Pegasus distance of a mile and an eighth, but I remember what Bob Baffert told me a few years ago. Gulfstream Park is a track where a miler can get a mile and an eighth.
All that said, I am willing to take a shot against Knicks Go. I respect his speed, I think he gets the lead easily, and logically he makes a lot of sense and maybe dollars at a short price. I think there is a better horse in the race, and I’ll go there. Hopefully, somebody goes at him early and softens him up a bit, or the horse I like is good enough to run him down anyway.
The Breeders’ Cup Mile Knicks Go won may look better than it actually was. Sure, he ran fast, but the track was souped-up, and track records were falling all day. The field was not the strongest for a Breeders’ Cup Mile, and the short run to the first turn helped Knicks Go on the lead. His trainer Brad Cox was on fire, and everything went perfectly for him. I don’t believe he has beaten a horse as good as one I think he will have to beat in the Pegasus.
I like Code of Honor. I believe he was pointed for this race after Shug decided to skip the Breeders’ Cup Classic with him in favor of the Clark at the Pegasus distance. Shug is as good as it gets pointing for a specific race. While he didn’t win the Clark, he ran a good second to Bodexpress, who ran the race of his life that day. Code of Honor is training and looking on paper like a horse who is sitting on his A race and possibly a career race, so I land here. His A race or a career race can be more than Knicks Go can handle, especially at this distance.
I am not sure how much help Code of Honor will get pace wise. I like the move to Tyler Gaffalione. Nothing against John Velazquez at all, I just think a change to a strong finishing young and hungry rider can be a good thing. Tyler rides Gulfstream really good, and this is a nice mount for him to pick up. Johnny V gave the call in the Pegasus to Tiz the Law, who subsequently retired. That left Code of Honor open, and that is how Tyler landed here.
Sleepy Eyes Todd, who has the rail, Coastal Defense, Independence Hall, who comes out of two sprints, and Mr. Freeze all might be able to put some pressure on Knicks Go, but I am not 100% sold on that. I am hopeful, but not sold. This may wind up a scenario where Code of Honor just has to man up and run-down Knicks Go if he can. I’m willing to wager on that.
Kiss Today Goodbye will be a big price, and it looks like he is Mike Smith’s lone mount on the card. Mike wouldn’t fly in if he didn’t think he had a shot and I agree with him. This improving horse, who goes first time as a four-year-old is two for two since moving back to the dirt from the turf. He handled Del Mar and Santa Anita and now gets an east coast track, and I think that will suit him fine. He’ll need a fast pace to set him up and a career-best effort, but I think he will be coming late. He can definitely slip into the exotics at a big price
I’ll look to be alive to Code of Honor in the all stakes Pick 5. I’ll also use Kiss Today Goodbye just in case. I’ll also use Code of Honor on top in the triples and superfectas with Kiss Today Goodbye and “all” keyed in all the other slots.
It is always scary playing against a speed horse like Knicks Go. Double down on that at Gulfstream Park. The race can be over pretty fast for you if things don’t go right. It is also a pretty good feeling when your horse is running at the speed down the stretch, and you just feel that momentum going your way. That is the scenario and feeling I will be looking for on Saturday.