Saturday is Pegasus World Cup Day at Gulfstream Park, and with it comes an incredible card with an awesome wagering menu. There are three Pick Fours, plus a pair of Pick Fives, and there shouldn’t be any shortage of opportunities at value.
I’ll have full-card analysis in the form of several multi-race wagers (the early Pick Five, and the middle and late Pick Fours). If you came here Friday night or early Saturday morning, you saw analysis for a track that wasn’t hammered by rain. Unfortunately, the skies have opened up, which means I had to make some changes.
Enough chit-chat; let’s get down to business!
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
70 Bets, $35
If you want to play the early Pick Four, I think you can do so very cheaply. Here, we’re buying the first leg (an off-the-turf maiden race) in hopes of getting a price up to spice up the potential payoff.
I’ll take my first stand of the day in the second race. This is an optional claiming event, and I really like #9 SOUPER WISH. If you toss his race three back, which was his first outing in 17 months, he’s never run a bad race, and it helps that the second-place finisher from his last-out win came back to win himself. He’s 4-1 on the morning line, and I’d see that as a pretty significant overlay (anything 5/2 and up would entice a pretty significant win bet).
The third race is the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, which I hope they rename since it’s now off the turf. Unfortunately, I can’t see anyone beating #4 WORLD OF TROUBLE, who will likely be the shortest price of the day against a very small field. This was a much more intriguing race on turf, and I think it’s now a “free square” in any multi-race exotics you play.
The fourth is a puzzling maiden special weight event for 3-year-olds going a mile. I’m going five-deep, and I’m making the conscious decision to throw out #6 SAMARONTI, the 4-1 morning line favorite. DRF’s workout reports say that he hasn’t been working as impressively as stablemate #10 HIGH AMPLITUDE, who I’m using but in no way in love with. Of the ones I used, I most prefer the one that may be the biggest price. That’s #7 TRIPWIRE, who ran well against stakes company at Woodbine and has every right to move forward on dirt. We know the distance won’t be a problem, and the experience edge could be a big plus.
If we’re alive going into the fifth, we’ll be two-deep to finish it off. This is the Ladies’ Turf Sprint, which is now off the turf. I’m going two-deep and using #4 CHERRY LODGE and #7 RAZORBACK LADY, both of whom have shown talent (and substantial early zip) in prior dirt starts. Like the third leg, this was a much more intriguing race on the turf (where I thought #2 MIZ MAYHEM had a big shot at a nice price), but this is what we’re left with.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #5
32 Bets, $16
My aim here is pretty simple. I’m trying to get to one of my best bets of the day in the last leg, and hoping we can get a price or two home before that one to make this pay a bit.
This starts in the fifth race, which I’ve profiled above. If you want to buy the race, the ticket is still a reasonable $40, but I’ll attempt to keep the cost down and use the same two horses that finish off my early Pick Five.
The sixth is the South Beach Stakes for older fillies and mares, and thankfully, this is still on the turf. The short run into the first turn makes things difficult for likely favorite #12 ROAD TO VICTORY, so I need to go a bit deeper. My top pick is actually #9 DOLCE LILI, who comes back to the turf and got pretty good last year for Bill Mott. With the turf course wet, I’ll substitute #1 FIRE KEY for the scratched #13 CAPLA TEMPTRESS, as that one has run her best races over turf courses with give in the ground. I’ll also use a big price in the form of #5 LOVER’S KEY. She takes a big jump up in class, but loves this route of ground and may be flying late for a barn that’s enjoyed a very strong meet to this point.
The seventh is the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie. I’m using the four likely favorites, but while #4 SHAMROCK ROSE may be tough, I don’t think she’s unbeatable. There isn’t a ton of early speed in here, which could set things up for either #5 BLAMED or #8 STORMY EMBRACE to steal it on the front end. If there’s a speed duel, #2 DREAM PAULINE could also be running late, and if she runs back to her win in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl, she may be tough to hold off.
All of this leads to the eighth race, the Grade 3 La Prevoyante. Making a morning line is an incredibly difficult, thankless job, but I think the morning line man got this one very, very wrong. #9 SANTA MONICA is the 7/2 second choice on the morning line, and if she goes off much above 2-1 or 5/2, I’ll be shocked. She ran well against top-notch competition all year last year before a dud in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and her lone race at this 12-furlong distance was a very impressive win at Keeneland last spring. I’m not crazy about the rest of this field, and I’ll take a stand here. If Santa Monica doesn’t win, I lose.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #9
80 Bets, $40
And now, the fun starts. This Pick Four is hard, but if you hit it, I think there’s a chance at a real financial windfall.
We’ll start in the ninth, the Grade 3 Fred Hooper. This race suffered a major defection earlier in the week, as #1 COAL FRONT is expected to scratch. I’m going two-deep, and my top selection is the other Todd Pletcher trainee, #8 COPPER TOWN. I’m throwing out the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, and if he runs back to his races before that, he’ll be formidable. I’ll also use #6 AZTEC SENSE, a win machine trained by Jorge Navarro who cuts back to one turn. #4 BREAKING LUCKY was originally on my ticket, but he’s not the same horse on a wet track, so I’ll throw him out and add another horse in the second leg.
The tenth is the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight, and I think it sets up for a frontrunner. As such, my top selection is #8 HUNTING HORN, who’s shown some speed in the past and gets some class relief after chasing Enable twice late last year. I’ll also use #2 SOGLIO and #4 ZULU ALPHA, in addition to #9 HUNTER O’RILEY, who would be way too big a price at 20-1. He comes off a long layoff, but has been working steadily and is a first-time gelding who has run well at this distance before.
That brings us to the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf. This may not be the strongest Grade 1 for the purse it’s offering, but it’s an incredibly difficult betting race. #2 YOSHIDA is the horse to beat, but this may be a hair further than he wants to run. I can make cases for eight or nine of the 10 horses in this race, so I’ll happily buy it and hope for a price.
And with all of that said and done, we’ve reached the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup. #5 ACCELERATE burned me in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and maybe it’s foolish to go against him again. Having said that, #3 CITY OF LIGHT beat him on the square at this distance in last year’s Oaklawn Handicap, and I’d argue that his Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile win was more impressive than Accelerate’s Classic triumph. The off track is an unknown, but he’s bred to like it (a 413 off-track Tomlinson figure gives me some confidence). I’m backing him in hopes of a mild upset, and if we cash, chances are it’ll be for a nice chunk of change.